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Has your name remained the same throughout your life? I know mine hasn’t. Sure, my full name is Alexandra, but throughout the many stages of my life my name has adapted in order to better fit my personality as I grew and changed. Through my tomboy phase (which admittedly lasted most of my youth), I preferred, you guessed it, Alex; by my closest friends I am referred to by my last name, Specht, as the number of Alex’s we know has become overwhelming; and in the work environment, I choose to be called Alexandra. With each of these variations, there are associations we knowingly and unknowingly make, which is why our names act as great tools in conveying our characteristics.
However, while altering our names as individuals is a relatively easy task, undergoing a complete rebranding (including changing the name and/or brand equity and brand image) of a company is quite costly – both in terms of time and money. Depending on the company’s goals, brands may choose to simply change their name, undergo a more difficult change of brand equity, or alter both. Continue reading to learn why and how a brand would take on these differing levels of rebranding in order to (hopefully) improve its appeal to consumers.
A company can undergo a simple name change in order to become more attractive to consumers, remove risks that come with translations (for international companies), or to reflect a merger or acquisition, like was the case in Sovereign Bank’s name change to Santander – for other reasons to undergo a name change, check out thisarticle. In order for a simple name change to be successful, the company must:
1. Get feedback – survey current and potential customers to evaluate their reaction to the name change and their attitudes towards the new name. This will ensure that the new brand name does not negatively impact sales and brand loyalty.
2. Do the obvious – change the names on your business cards, store fronts, pamphlets, labels, etc.
3. Make the transition seamless – you don’t want to shock your consumers with a sudden change because this could bring about a negative association with your new name right from the get-go. You can avoid this by concentrating the name change to a single region, for example.
4. Get the word out – notify your current and potential customers through emails, newsletters, commercials, etc. so that no one is confused by the change.
Brand Image Change
Companies often undergo brand image changes as a last resort to remain competitive in the market. They use a brand equity change in order to create new value for the consumers in order to differentiate themselves from competitors or to potentially recover from a PR issue.
In the case of Coca-Cola, upon the release of research that revealed the unhealthy effects of their soft drinks, they had to make a serious effort to emphasize the other reasons one should drink Coca-Cola, other than for the taste. This meant revamping their brand equity through associating their brand with values such as happiness, family, patriotism, while simultaneously also, international unity. To ensure your brand equity change is successful, you must:
1. Again, get feedback – how can you know how what improvements to make if you don’t know what your consumers want? Create focus groups and surveys in order to not only understand what values your consumers are looking for, but to also learn what associations your brand currently has that your consumers don’t like.
2. Make a sharp transition – unlike when undergoing a name change, a change in brand equity should be sudden and obvious. This means that any logo changes, employee changes, or location changes should be coordinated to happen all at once, emphasizing that today begins a new era for your brand.
3. Promote! – people will not respond to your improvement in brand image if they don’t know that a change was made. Have commercials, advertisements, events, and other promotions ready to spread the word immediately.