By Josh Ledgard
Let’s talk about Kentucky Fried Chicken.
No, it’s not lunch time– it’s rebranding time, and no one can tell that story better than Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC, is a company that’s rebranded itself several throughout its history.
To better align with the health-consciousness of the 90s, Kentucky Fried Chicken (emphasis on fried) became KFC. The brand wanted its customers to know that they could buy more than just fried chicken from its restaurant.
Then again, in 2015, they brought Colonel Sanders back to life– not through mad science, but through a series of comedian impersonations. Their hope was to reinvigorate the KFC brand with a human face that their customers could connect to– and it appears to be working.
But, what does fried chicken have to do with you?
My point is that KFC’s rebranding is very customer-aware.
And at the heart of any successful rebranding strategy is the customer. It’s not about what you’re selling, it’s about who you’re selling to. What type of experience does your customer want to have with your brand?
Let’s talk about how to create a customer-aware rebranding strategy.
Why are you rebranding your business to begin with? There’s no one size fits all here. There are a ton of reasons why you could rebrand. You’ll start by asking yourself the following:
Do you have new leadership?
Have you merged with another business?
Have you expanded your products or services?
Have you shifted the scope of current offerings?
Are you just tired of your brand and want to reinvigorate it?
Is there a new player in your industry that’s changed the game for everyone?
Has your industry updated in someway, and you’re still behind the standards?
Has your ideal customer changed?
Do they have different priorities now?
If you’ve experienced significant changes to your business, it may be a good idea to rebrand. But, rebranding isn’t something to jump into without serious consideration and a well thought-out strategy. Which leads me to my next point:
Sometimes, businesses can do more harm than good by rebranding. Depending on how long you’ve been in business, your customers can feel betrayed by your rebranding– yeah, it’s that serious.
When handled incorrectly, rebranding can feel like a breach of trust, or a bait and switch. The customer signed up for one brand, but then a few months (or however long) down the road, now has to do business a new brand– a new brand whose message and values may not reflect the customer’s.
While your rebrand may just be a face lift of the visual elements of your business, it may not be worth it if you alienate your current customers.
Just because you may feel restless, it doesn’t mean you should get rid of everything you’ve built in favor of new, shinier branding.
When building trust, consistency is important. And consistency is one thing you’ll lose in your rebrand. Keep in mind that you’re jeopardizing trust with your customers when you rebrand.
Get your team involved in your rebrand attempt. And, I’m not just talking about your executive team, either. Every member of your team, from the CEO to the intern needs to be included in your rebranding strategy.
Too often, the team doesn’t find out about a rebrand until the website’s redone, and the printed materials have been delivered. That’s a sloppy way to find out.
And you’re doing yourself a big disservice by not getting your employees involved from the beginning.
Your team can also help you pinpoint gaps in your rebranding strategy. They are probably more connected to the customers so they have more immediate and personal insight into what the customer needs that the brand is not fulfilling.
Encourage your team members to share their ideas for how your rebrand should look, feel, and respond to customers. Get them involved early on in the development process of your rebranding strategy.
This can help you ensure employee loyalty, too. Once your team feels like they’re part of your new vision moving forward, they’ll be more invested in your new brand because they helped build and shape it.
Rebranding doesn’t need to happen behind closed doors. Transparency is a core value that you can take with you from your old brand to your new one. And, it’s a value that your customers can appreciate.
Here’s how you can involve your customers:
Survey your customers. During the research stage of your rebrand, get your customers involved. You want to have a clear understanding of what your customers need and what they’re hoping to get from you.
My favorite survey is a simple poll that you can add to your website. One question, maybe two, that can help you better define your customers and their needs.
Simple questions you may want to ask include:
Remember to keep this survey short and informal. The easier it is for the site visitor to participate, the more likely they will.
Prepare a series of questions to ask your customers and place them on your highest performing pages on your website. Use Google analytics to help you find the most popular pages on your website.
All feedback is good feedback, but I love negative feedback even more because it can help you understand what’s resonating with your customers.
Use social listening tools to find out what customers are saying about you (and your competitors) on social media.
Scour through your emails to find out what prompts customers to reach out.
Ask your team what common questions, concerns, or criticisms your customers share with them.
All of the above can give you insight on what needs to be addressed in your rebranding.
Once you’re sure that rebranding is imminent, send your current customers a heartfelt email explaining that your business is transitioning in some way (but be more specific than that).
There’s nothing worse (for your customer) than to come back to your website or place of business and see something completely new in its space. It’s disorienting for your customers, and it can leave them feeling uncertain about doing business with the new you.
So, take the time to explain that you’re in a transition and why. Share the story of why you decided to rebrand. Customers these days expect a certain level of self-awareness in marketing, so it’s okay to break the fourth wall and show your customers a more vulnerable and human side of your brand.
Start with an email. Share your imminent launch of your new brand with your email subscribers. Give them the exclusive on your exciting news. Paint it as a happy time, because it is, and you want them to see the rebrand as a good thing.
Continue with a landing page. You won’t be able to go into all the details of your rebrand on an email. No one wants to read a lengthy email message. But, you can link to the full story on a dedicated landing page. Here, you’ll go in depth about your new brand, from conception to launch. Include behind the scenes photos of your team, a heartfelt video of your CEO, a timeline or any other content that makes the rebranding feel deliberate, thought out and customer-centric.
Make sure that the customer feels validated and supported in your decision to rebrand. And you’ll do this with a dedicated landing page that you can also direct press, industry influencers, and other interested parties to. Here’s how to get started with creating a landing page for your rebrand.
Even after you’ve transitioned, it’s still a good idea to remind your customers who you are— using terms like “formerly known as…” can help your customers connect the dots between this new name or logo with the old and trusted brand they already know.
You’ll need to keep reminding your customers for a while. You’ll do this on your website, on your email newsletters, on your printed materials, on your social media handles, and everywhere you interact with your customers now.
Be sure to link back to your landing page where you discuss your rebrand. People will want to inform themselves.
Rebranding your business is exciting and overwhelming all at once. Of all the things to consider, the most important is making sure that the customer feels hopeful about your new brand. You’ll do this with a strong team who can support your customer through the transition, and by following the above tips. Rebranding isn’t going to be easy, but if you can pull it off successfully, you’ll emerge with a stronger identity and a even better relationship with your customers. Good luck!