When Is It Time to Rebrand? Lessons from Meta, Block and More

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The last few years have brought countless changes to our lives. After the onset of the pandemic, many companies adapted and adapted to a new business model at an unprecedented rate. Others took it upon themselves to change things, giving themselves a new name, appearance, and sometimes domain name in the process. And many found themselves in both categories, adjusting their public facet to reflect the changes that were taking place internally. These companies included Facebook, now Meta, and mobile payment company Square, now Block.

Why now? While companies are changing their brand for a number of reasons, there are some catalysts behind this recent wave. Below are possible explanations for the changes, along with conclusions if you plan to take advantage of the current momentum and change the brand of your own business.

Rebrands that reflect internal changes

Companies tend to change their brand when their name or image becomes obsolete due to external or internal changes. Internal changes that make companies change their brand include a different customer base they want to attract, new products / services, or a merger or acquisition.

In October 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the media titan would change the brand to Meta, a look at the emerging metavers. Block, formerly Square, also changed its name to better encapsulate its expanded product portfolio and growing interest in blockchain technology. Both brand changes indicate to investors that companies will devote more resources to exploring these new frontiers, proving that they are more than the synonymous technologies of their previous names. Once positioned as standalone platforms, Meta and Block are now the main players leading the technology sector.

Mergers and acquisitions that tend to lead to internal remodeling also push companies to change brands. 74% of S&P Global 100 companies changed the name of an asset acquired during the seven years following the acquisition, and for good reason. Brand Finance studied all public procurement between 2015 and 2020 with an agreement size of more than $ 500 million and found that unnamed acquisitions were 56% more likely to be serious business damage to the purchaser. The brand change as a result of a major internal change can help establish a new company culture and reorient both employees and customers.

Related: When to consider a brand change (and how to do it right)

Rebrandings caused by social change

On the other hand, external social changes can cause companies to question their long-term relevance, and also drive them to change brands. The brand change from Dunkin Donuts to simply Dunkin, for example, can be explained by a larger shift in Americans’ outlook on food. Archer Daniels Midland’s research found that 77% of Americans plan to take steps to be healthier in the future. Hoping to stay relevant during this turn, characterized by an increase in plant-based diets and a growing distrust of sugar, Dunkin Donuts decided to remove the word Donuts from its name in 2019, simply becoming Dunkin .

While Dunkin’s brand change can be attributed to increased health awareness, a shift in social awareness may explain the changes to previously well-known brands such as Washington Redskins and Aunt Jemima. In the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement continued to provoke intensified conversations about race. Both Aunt Jemima and the Washington Redskins received a reaction for using language and images rooted in racial stereotypes and changed their names to Pearl Milling Company and Washington Commanders, respectively. Brands that traded with unfavorable racial stereotypes were at risk of appearing deaf or utterly offensive as public awareness of racial issues changed. What was previously tolerated or ignored became unacceptable and backward.

But perhaps the pandemic has been the biggest change of all. According to McKinsey, 75% of Americans have changed their buying behavior and brands as a result, and countless brands have had to pivot their brand or value proposition to adapt to a new audience and consumer needs. While Meta’s brand change was a way to capitalize on an emerging market and move away from the controversy associated with Facebook’s name, it’s hard to imagine that this strategic move would have happened so quickly if we hadn’t been closed to house for a whole year. Commenting on the benefits of metavers, Zuckerberg said it will be “like we’re right there with people, no matter how far away we really are,” showing a clear link to previous months of social distancing.

Related: Important lessons I learned from a brand change

Food for your brand and business

As previous brands show, brand change can be a smart strategy to stay relevant and reflect company-wide changes to customers, but it can also be a massive business. Fortunately, a little forethought can go a long way. If you are considering changing the brand of your own business, here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Decide on the scope of the change: First, decide how many changes your audience can tolerate. While some companies make small tweaks, others, like Block, completely revised their name and brand. Block decided to give their parent company a new name, look and feel, but they still kept the same products. While the change was important to the company itself, it had little effect on the people who use its products and services, and therefore did not alienate customers.

Design a communication strategy: A communications plan is critical to maintaining customer trust and confidence. Explain clearly the reasoning behind your brand change and take advantage of all the channels you use to connect with your customers and audience. Assure them that their experience with your business will not change, or only change for the better, as a result of your new identity.

Reconsider your domain name: When you change your brand, your domain name is a vital tool for communicating your new approach and values. Aligning your domain with your new brand helps create a consistent digital identity. Make sure you choose a domain that is short, memorable, and descriptive, without confusing prefixes, suffixes, or hyphens. A descriptive domain, which uses meaningful keywords to the left and right of the dot to tell your audience who you are and what you do, is a great option. Help your new brand stay in the minds of your audience and customers. Examples are oat.haus and switchboard.live.

Think critically about your digital identity: Your brand change should prepare you for success in our rapidly changing world, which requires thinking about possible disruptions on the horizon. With the advent of metavers, it is crucial that brands have a cohesive identity that encapsulates who they are and why they matter. Perfect your voice, your image and your domain name, and what everyone communicates to your customers.

Related: Behind the scenes of a company brand change

Embracing change in uncertain times

As we simultaneously recover from the pandemic and embrace new economic and social changes, from the rise of the blockchain chain to greater social and health awareness, brands will continue to reshape their images.

The world will continue to change, and those who seize the opportunity to attract new customers, audiences and markets will remain at the forefront, while others risk falling behind. Some will face change with resilience, while others will adopt a new normalcy and take advantage of emerging opportunities. Which group will you be in?

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