Revamping your brand is scary, especially if it’s a well-established one. You can’t predict exactly how your customers will react to the new image, direction, or message you want to give your company. If you don’t do it right, it could result in an awkward transition, confused customers, and a loss of revenue. This can be especially true for nonprofits. But there are times when a business needs to refresh its image.
Here, we’ll take you through the pros and cons of a major nonprofit rebranding and show you how to avoid the mistakes that can torpedo your efforts. We’ll also go over how to do a brand perception study, so you can gauge where your company stands in the public eye before making the jump.
The Pros and Cons of Nonprofit Rebranding
Rebranding your business is an emotional and time-consuming journey. It requires a lot of patience, reflection on your business’ values and direction, and planning.
First off, let’s clearly establish what “brand” means. It isn’t just a company’s logo or tagline, though they do serve as a visual shortcut to invoke brand recognition. Marketing Specialist Amada Bowman effectively defines the concept of brand in an article for Entrepreneur:
Your company's own brand is the sum total of the experiences your customers and prospects have with your company. A good brand communicates what your company does and how it does it. A good brand also establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers.
Amada Bowman, Marketing Specialist
There are myriad reasons a company could decide to rebrand: to reboot their image, to recover from a scandal, to reflect new ownership; what you as the business owner must decide is whether a rebrand is really worth investing your organization’s time and money.
The Pros of Rebranding:
- Expand your audience and re-engage with your existing customer base
- Reposition yourself to top-of-mind with stakeholders and donors
- Reinvent your image to overcome the stigma of a current name and judgments on current work
- Refresh your company’s actual services and mission
If your business has been around for a while, a rebrand could be just what you need to get people talking about it again. You can use the opportunity to reintroduce yourself to stakeholders in your company or possible donors, and in doing so, you can make sure they know who you are, what your new direction is, and why they should be on board.
Rebranding can also distance your company from past mistakes, or the negativity of a past scandal. It can be a way to signal to the public that you’re going to take a new approach. If you’re going to take this route, you must follow through on that implicit promise. Failure to so could leave things worse than when you started.
Rebranding can also signal that a company has evolved into an even better version of itself, one ready to take on new and bigger challenges. For a nonprofit rebrand, this can be especially important.
Cons of Rebranding:
- Could lead to loss of brand equity; people may not recognize you anymore
- May make it harder for existing donors to find you
- Could alienate staff and existing clients
It’s vital to make sure that your existing customers and donors are along for the ride if you decide to rebrand. Leave them out in the cold, and they could end up feeling confused or alienated. In the worst case, they could leave for a brand they feel better represents them.
Updating clients and donors along the way will also make sure they know where they can find you after the change. Reassure them that you are still here.
Deciding Whether to Rebrand Using a Brand Perception Study
Here are a few reasons you may want to consider rebranding, according to 99Designs:
- Your target demographic has changed
- Stay ahead of new competition/trends/technologies
- Your business has undergone a significant change
- There hasn’t been a cohesive effort to brand the company yet
- The brand is dated
In all your communications with customers, donors, and the public, it’s essential to be clear on the reason for your rebrand. People want to know why they see such a massive shift in something they’ve been used to for so long.
Apart from effectively communicating the change, you’ll want to conduct a brand perception study to gauge how your current clients and donors will react. That means doing market research on social media to measure customer opinion, conducting surveys of your donors and staff to see what they think of the brand, and having an internal discussion to make sure everyone at your company is on the same page.
Conducting a brand perception study can help you identify areas of concern from stakeholders and figure out how to address them. It can also provide data from the public on what they think of your brand image; maybe they think it’s stale and would welcome a fresh start.
Look at what the current brand represents. Is it defined by the type of work you do, the geographic location of your customers, or a nonprofit’s particular area of expertise? If so, this could be limiting your brand.
Some questions to ask as part of your brand perception study:
- Do your name/logo/other brand elements carry high name recognition?
- Will changing that name/logo/other element risk losing supporters?
- Do people confuse your current nonprofit brand with another in your space?
- Does your audience have a clear understanding of what your organization actually does?
Once you’ve got that data, you can let it inform your brand revision.
Revising Your Brand
Since the changes you make to your image will likely include major identifying elements of your brand like the name or logo, you’ll want to carefully consider how you change them. Look at the change from multiple angles to be sure it will translate well and be easily understood by your audience.
When choosing a new name, consider what would make your new company name more memorable while communicating your values:
- Come up with a list
- Narrow it down to your top few choices (the top five)
- Compare it to other company names and trademarks
- Check name translations to avoid embarrassing errors
Once you’ve decided on a name, research whether properties you can connect it with to build your new brand, like domain names, are available. You’ll want a name that’s a strong identifier: memorable, easy to market, and capable of building recognition.
Revealing the New You
Once you’ve come up with the new name, logo, and other branding elements for your company and have everything ready to launch, it’s time to reveal that new image to the world.
Ideally, you’ll have kept everyone in the loop during the rebranding process and let them know to expect a change. You’ll want to reveal that change differently to different groups. Be sure you have plans for revealing your new brand to:
- Community partners
- The media
- Any others who weren’t involved in the nonprofit rebrand process
A one-size-fits-all approach to this phase could feel impersonal, so add a few details in each plan to make sure each group feels heard.
Rebranding a nonprofit can be time-consuming and difficult but can be a boon to your company if it’s truly necessary. You should be prepared for the loss of some brand equity, but try to minimize it by keeping everyone informed and listening to their opinions. A rebrand can communicate a new focus, an upgrade for the times, or a promise not to repeat past mistakes.
A brand perception study can help measure how your brand looks and feels in the minds of stakeholders, donors, and customers, and should not be neglected. Conduct surveys - do your research and take people’s thoughts into account.
At Synico Solutions, we provide powerful digital marketing tools to businesses like yours. If you’re considering a rebrand, or just need a boost in visibility, visit our site today to learn how we can help.