It’s no different for a business wanting to reinvigorate its product or service by doing a rebranding. And in these economic times, a fresh look can mean new customers or better selling products.
“There are a number of reasons why a company would do a rebranding,” said Holly Clark, principal and creative director for Candour, which recently did a rebranding for the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce and won two Addy silver awards from the American Advertising Federation for designing its own brand. “The chamber was looking for a completely new and invigorated look, something a little more applicable to the personality of their organization. They wanted to look professional, but appeal to a dynamic group of demographics.”
For retail clients, Clark said, many started small as mom-and-pops and they’ve grown over time and they’re looking to advance their image by growing into new markets and adapt to new demographics.
Philip Geist, Ed. D, area director for the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida, said it’s important for small businesses to do something that differentiates them from the competition.
“It’s very important to have something that jumps out at the competition, that makes you different,” Geist said. “It can be real or it can be perceptual. Real in the sense that we’re open 24/7, we’re always here; or it could be a plumber that arrives on time and wears cologne, things that make you remember the name of the company.”
Anibal Rodriguez, a creative director at and part-owner of The Media Group 3, which redesigned the Marion County logo, said some companies need to rebrand because they started backwards.
“They started going into business and they didn’t have an image,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of times what they have is something that somebody put together that wasn’t very well thought out and doesn’t represent what the company is really about.”
Rodriguez said they point out to clients that there is potential to brand their company in a more cohesive way so when a person sees the logo they can have a better understanding of the company.
“It seems like an insignificant thing, but it sets the tone for anything else you put out there as far as your overall company,” Rodriguez said.
Though budgets are tight, now might be the best time for companies to consider a rebranding.
“Now is the best time to reinvent yourself,” Clark said. “I think it pays dividends in terms of re-inspiring your organization, reinventing yourself as a company. I think a lot of the time when we’re dealing with the new economics, you have to reinvent yourself. A lot of times we try to let our clients know it isn’t an expense, it’s an investment back into your business.”
Rodriguez agrees this is a good time for rebranding because companies can focus on that and when the economy bounces back they’ll be in good shape. Of course, he said, businesses are strapped for cash so they might have a hard time seeing the value and putting money into it at this point.
Geist said if business is slow, companies really need to separate themselves from the competition and rebranding might be the way to go.
“Is it a good time? Probably yes,” Geist said. “If you’re doing something people weren’t aware of a fresh look could keep them interested. You need to stay in front of folks.”
Some companies, Geist said, might be hesitant to make a change because they don’t want to create confusion in the marketplace.
“Most rebrand is just a slight change of focus or direction,” Geist said. “If you’re going to change your logo, you don’t change it so drastically that you aren’t visible anymore.”
Clark said Candour is seeing more companies looking to rebrand.
“A lot of people are finding the need to go a completely different route based on the economy,” Clark said. “It’s giving them new obstacles, new challenges. A lot of them are seeing this as a good opportunity to take a look to see how things are working internally and then deciding to go ahead and rebrand when it’s not as busy.”
Mike Austin, lead pastor at CenterPoint Church, said this was an ideal time to make a change.
“It was a good timing for us to do it,” Austin said. “We weren’t really happy with the old image. We didn’t feel like it represented the church as well as it could.”
Austin hired The Media Group 3 to do the work. The church told the firm what is was looking for, what they would like it to look like and the result was four arrows pointing together that make up a cross.
“It was an expression of what we do and who we are,” Austin said. “We’re getting a lot of really positive feedback from people. It’s clean, it’s catchy, it seems to do what we wanted it to do. We’re very, very, very happy with it.”
Austin said it’s hard to tell if the rebranding increased attendance, but during Easter several people came to church because they saw the new sign.
“It does say there’s been a change and that’s usually refreshing,” Austin said. “Some people don’t like change, but change like this that isn’t really striking at the core values but only reinforcing the core values is usually accepted and embraced.”
Marion County recently hired The Media Group 3 to design a new county logo. Part of the goal was to create better customer service, said Heather Danenhower, the county’s public information manager.
“The big reason we wanted to do a countywide brand was because we found that we had more than 16 different identities out there,” Danenhower said. “Part of good customer service is creating an identity so Marion County citizens can identify Marion County as a provider of services. When you have more than 16 identities out there it’s very confusing. Being able to consolidate all those into one identity will impact customer service.”
The other part of it, Danenhower said, was cost. Rebranding cost $1,912, but the county views it as more of a cost-cutting measure.
“We’re not looking at any additional costs,” Danenhower said. “We found we’re going to realize an immediate cost savings of about $6,500. With more than 16 different logos out there that’s 16 different set-up charges. That’s 16 different businesses that are printing our materials. What we did is we took that and contracted it into one operation.”
Danenhower said the county plans to use all the old materials so nothing is wasted. As they replace items, they will replace them with the new logo.
Though pleased with the results, Danenhower said rebranding is no small task.
“Anybody who’s gone through a rebranding knows it’s not just a flip-switch operation,” Danenhower said. “It takes a lot of strategic thinking to evaluate where we are today and where we want to go. We’ve been working on this project on-and-off since July 2009.”
Joe Wallace, Ed. D, director of marketing and public relations for Central Florida Community College, can relate to the rebranding trials and tribulations. On May 25, the college is scheduled to launch a new brand, changing its name to College of Central Florida.
“We’re still preparing everything,” Wallace said. “All our signage, letterhead, Web site is all fresh and new. We did involve the community in the process as far as the name change was concerned. We did a survey last fall and over 1,400 names were submitted.”
Wallace said those names were pared to four and the board of trustees made the final decision.
Danenhower said the county went through “many” logos before agreeing on the final version.
“It’s not an easy process or something to be taken lightly,” Danenhower said. “We tried to tie the past with the present and the future. We wanted something more representative of Marion County today.”