Rebranding Your Company

Stephen DeAngelis

October 17, 2011

Today, my company, Enterra Solutions®, LLC, officially announced the launch of its new web site and a new slogan, “Welcome to the mind of Enterra.” The new web site is first step in a rebranding campaign to let potential clients know that the Enterra® focus is primarily on supply chain optimization. The press release announcing this rebranding effort reads:

“Enterra Solutions, LLC, announced today that it has launched its new website and Facebook page to focus on its commercial and critical infrastructure businesses. Enterra has introduced a new, clean look and feel that reflects the cutting edge technology used in its product offerings. Based around the slogan, ‘Welcome to the Mind of Enterra,’ the new web site and Facebook page underscore the unique, capability that allows organizations and global supply chains to ‘Sense, Think/Learn, and Act.’

‘We are extremely excited about these first steps in our new corporate branding and marketing campaign,’ said Stephen DeAngelis, Enterra’s President and CEO. ‘We wanted our website and Facebook page to be the first elements brought to market that help us more clearly and simply describe our technological innovations. We also wanted a venue to describe to a broad audience how Enterra’s Core Sense, Think/Learn, Act Kernel™ offers intelligence through the use of an automated ontology and rules, combined with probabilistic logic and reasoning that enable real-time insights and agile responses, as well as systemic experiential learning.’

Because the Kernel combines large and complex data ingestion capabilities with artificial intelligence to sense, think/learn and act in real time, it helps decision makers identify challenges and take appropriate actions within established decision cycles. Enterra currently applies this technology to service manufacturers and their supply chain partners in the consumer products and retail sectors. The value of this new approach was recognized earlier this year when Enterra was selected as one of 25 companies featured in the Editors’ Pick section of Consumer Goods Technology (CGT) 2011 Readers’ Choice Issue.

Mr. DeAngelis stated that Enterra offers cloud-based, Solution-as-a-Service (SaaS) products because they provide real-time intelligence, 24-hour control, and large-scale results. In what supply chain analysts are calling the coming era of ‘big data,’ only cloud-based solutions can provide the necessary scalability for clients of all sizes.

The website launch is the first phase of the company’s new marketing and branding campaign, Enterra is positioning itself to be premier provider of leading supply chain solution in consumer products and retail industries. Enterra will soon launch its Twitter capability which will be linked to Mr. DeAngelis’ blog as well.”

As the news release states, in the near future this blog will connect to social media outlets that as a part of the rebranding effort. The blog will probably get a new look as well. Wikipedia states, “Rebranding is the creation of a new name, term, symbol, design, or a combination of them for an established brand with the intention of developing a differentiated (new) position in the mind of stakeholders and competitors.” Enterra’s rebranding activities don’t involve a name or logo change, but they do include elements of design. As the Wikipedia articles notes, “Far from just a change of visual identity, rebranding should be part of an overall brand strategy for a product or service.”

 

Readers who have followed this blog over the past few years know that Enterra has worked in a number of areas (from security to international development). With the success of our supply chain optimization solutions, however, we’ve decided to concentrate primarily making them even better for our clients. As the Wikipedia article states, “The main reason for a re-brand is to communicate a new message for a company, something that has evolved.” That certainly describes why my company has undertaken its rebranding effort.

 

Several years ago, John Williams, founder and president of LogoYes.com, a do-it-yourself logo design website, wrote, “There are just about as many reasons to rebrand a business as there are ways to do it.” [“The Art of Rebranding,” Entrepreneur, 3 July 2006] Even though there a number of ways to rebrand, Williams insisted that “there are right and wrong ways to go about it.” REBRAND, a company “focused on effective brand transformations,” agrees that there are at a lot of mistakes that companies can make. [“The Top 20 Mistakes Marketers Make When Rebranding — And How to Avoid Them,” Rebrand.com] REBRAND asserts that smart companies “evolve their brands over time to keep them relevant. Some do it well, while others become the target of cynical bloggers.” Williams reminds us, for example, about how New Coke flopped. One of the re-branding missteps that the REBRAND article indicates companies should avoid is “clinging to history.” It states:

“Rebranding well means staying relevant. Assumptions made when the brand was established may no longer hold true. Analyze changes in target markets when exploring opportunities for brand expansion, repositioning and revitalization.”

The first thought that comes to my mind are cereal companies that have changed from trying to sell their products based on sugary taste to selling them on their healthy side effects. That doesn’t mean that sugary cereals have disappeared, but branding has certainly changed. The next mistake that companies make, according to REBRAND, is “thinking the brand is the logo, stationery or corporate colors. Brands encompass everything from customer perception and experience to quality, look and feel, customer care, retail and web environments, the tone and voice of communications, and more.” Williams, for example, pointed out how Sprint rebranded itself after it merged with Nextel. He wrote:

“The company eliminated the angular logo (and red corporate color) that seemed indicative of inflexibility and replaced it with a more fluid logo–placed on a cheerful gold background–that reflects the company’s friendliness and flexibility.”

Sprint soon discovered, however, that customers were becoming more aware of network capabilities and it began losing ground to companies like AT&T and Verizon that had better coverage. Today, Sprint is stressing the value of its networks. The next mistake that companies make, REBRAND claims, is trying to navigate the rebranding process “without a plan.” As Lewis Carroll wrote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” When a company sets out to rebrand itself, it obviously has a reason and an objective. To reach that objective, make and follow a plan.

 

Another mistake that companies make, according to REBRAND, is “not leveraging existing brand equity and goodwill.” The article states:

“Dismissing brand equity when rebranding alienates established customers, while unnecessary overhauls can irreparably damage a brand’s perception. Consider the needs and mindset of the target market carefully before digging into the process. Sometimes a small evolution – or a new coat of paint – is all that’s needed to rejuvenate and make a brand relevant.”

I recently read an article that indicated that a number of companies that sell products that have been around for generation are repackaging those products to look more “retro.” They are rebranding with an old coat of paint rather than a new one. They may have adopted that idea from the National Football League, whose teams have played a number of games in retro uniforms. On the other hand, REBRAND states that a true rebranding can’t be just a “superficial facelift. The rebrand’s story must be believable given the existing brand experience and customer perception. It must also hold credibility internally. If employees who live the brand day-to-day don’t believe, the target audience won’t either.” Another mistake companies make is failing to include improved customer service along with rebranding. The article states:

“Simply calling your own 800-number or receptionist may reveal challenges customers face and inform your rebranding strategy. Take the time to navigate your own website, buy your products and return something. Better yet, ask a friend or family member to do so and learn from their experiences.”

We spent a lot of time navigating our new web site before we launched it. Obviously we want our customers to have a good experience when they go there. For more on customer service, read my post entitled To Survive the Current Economic Malaise Retailers Should Try a Little Customer Service. Another big mistake companies make, REBRAND says, is “forgetting that people don’t do what they say. (They do what they do.)” The article states:

“Use caution when basing rebranding strategies on focus group-type research. Unless you’re physically in the customer’s environment observing them using your product or service, you’re not getting the full story. Actual observation, while not perfect, will get you a lot closer to the right solution.”

The folks at IDEO call this taking the “The Deep Dive.” I would go even further than the folks at REBRAND and state that sometimes listening to the customer is simply wrong. Luke Johnson pointed out that Henry Ford, at the launch of the Model T, stated: “If I’d asked the customer, he’d have asked for a faster horse.” [“Why focus groups tell you the obvious,” Financial Times, 24 March 2010] Johnson and the folks at REBRAND have a different perspective on the value of research. REBRAND asserts that you shouldn’t rebrand without research. Johnson claims, “Over-reliance on researchers means owners and managers are separated from the consumer. Successful [business people] I know put more effort in talking to customers themselves, than they do working with costly experts who tell them what they should have learned long before.” Personally, I have found that industry experts can be very helpful.

 

Earlier this year, Judith Aquino, from Business Insider, provided her list of The 10 Most Successful Rebranding Campaigns Ever. The companies she singled out were: J. Crew, Burberry, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Harley-Davidson, McDonald’s, Target, Walmart, Old Spice, Apple, and UPS. Click on her article to read why she believed these were great rebranding campaigns. Aquino concluded, “A successful campaign requires more than a revamped logo. It demands a vision that inspires customers, investors, and others to see the company in a new light.” At Enterra, we hope that our efforts do just that.