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Can You Really Change Your Brand Image? Should You?

In my line of work, I run into this question quite frequently. Companies wanting to change their brand position from a value brand to a premium brand. Or, wanting to change from targeting small businesses to targeting large businesses. Or, wanting to move from the established brand to the more innovative brand. You get the idea.

When this is the aim, an important question is not usually far behind. Is it possible to change a company’s brand image? And, I often answer that question with a question, “Do you need to redefine the brand itself, or the perception of the brand?” And, “How far apart are you now from the brand you want to be?”

It takes a long time to build a brand image. It takes just as long to change it. And, I contend, when the change you want to make is drastic…it just may not be possible without a complete change of name, product, and culture. So, in this case, you need to ask yourself, “should you?”

It’s probably human nature to want to be what we are not. The idea that the pasture’s are always greener on the other side. And, sometimes there really are good reasons for a brand overhaul. But, don’t think you are going to be able to accomplish this easily, or quickly, or with a simple message change.

If you’ve been in sales and marketing for any length of time, you know that simply re-facing the brand elements of your company or product is not enough to change the customer’s brand perception of you. You have to change the way you operate! This alone, should make you evaluate carefully if you really SHOULD change your brand image. If after careful consideration, the answer is still yes…then determine which of the following approaches is most reasonable for your situation:

1. Complete Brand Overhaul. If the change you want to make is drastic (i.e. value brand to premium brand), you are likely going to be better off with a complete brand overhaul. Consider yourself a new company. One, with established assets you can leverage, but a new company nonetheless. This can mean a name change, a product/service redefinition, and more! With this option, you have to be willing to leave the old brand, and the business that comes with it behind!

2. Slow Evolution. This is more than likely the approach you will want to take. Most companies are not in the position to abandon the old brand and start anew. In this method, you will want to make small changes, over time to move your brand position from where it is today to where you want it to be. The general rule is you will need five years to accomplish your goal. I did say it doesn’t happen over night didn’t we? Still, the lower your brand recognition is now, the shorter this transition time will be. Remember, as I always say with branding…CONSISTENCY is the key. If you are always changing…or your change drastically while trying to hold onto your old brand, you just simply will not be successful.