Rebranding and renaming: What, why, when and how

Rebranding means making changes to how a brand looks and is known, and this can include changing its name. Whether for a specific reason or just for progress, rebranding is all about growth, transformation, and bringing in something fresh.

Think of this article as your straightforward blueprint for navigating the world of rebranding. Ready to dive in?

When is rebranding the right brand strategy?

There are various common reasons and situations to consider rebranding. We’ve outlined the main grounds for actively adopting a rebranding strategy:

  • Mergers, acquisitions, or partnerships: These scenarios often call for selecting a single name for the whole organization. Now, do you stick with existing names or opt for an entirely new one?
  • Internationalization: When a brand aims to go global. Common situations: 
    • The current name is tricky for international use.
    • Legal rules prevent its use abroad.
    • It creates unwanted associations in a global context.
  • Growth challenges:
    • The current name restricts existing or new products and services.
    • The brand wants to appeal to different or multiple target audiences.
    • There’s an extensive brand portfolio with significant overlap between offerings or target audiences.
  • Issues impacting corporate or brand image:
    • Low trust in the brand or product.
    • Existing brand values no longer match the brand strategy.
    • Persistent incorrect price perception.

Pros and cons of rebranding

Rebranding is a strategic decision that has a major impact on the brand and its surroundings. When done thoughtfully, it can lead to excellent results. 

We’ve highlighted the main positive aspects and challenges to guide you in making the right call.

Pros:

  • It’s the ideal time for a fresh perspective.
  • Opportunity for new brand values, repositioning, and aligning marketing strategies.
  • Reintroduction to existing audiences.
  • Introduction to new audiences.
  • PR boost: Attention for the new brand and a chance to tell its story.
  • Sheds off any past issues.
  • Creates internal equality in a merger/acquisition.
  • Builds one (multi-)national brand, reducing costs and focusing on power brands.

Cons:

  • Short-term costs: time, energy, and money.
  • Farewell to old, established brand values and associations.
  • Internal: Change can lead to resistance and unrest.
  • External: The market reaction is uncertain – will it be accepted, or will part of the market/audience disengage?
  • Risk of a decline in the total financial value of the old brand.
  • Loss of legal ownership of the old brand after three years (if not in use).

Getting started: Dos and don’ts in the process

The decision has been made.  A renaming is on the horizon. How do you navigate this change right from the start? We’ve put together some guidelines, what we like to call ‘rebranding rules.’

✅ Do: Establish principles, goals, and conditions

Your organization is stepping into a new era, and it might feel a bit abstract. That’s where creating a framework comes in handy—it gives you a sense of control. We suggest having a clear grasp of the principles before diving into the naming process. This involves defining the new positioning, something we’re more than willing to help with. 

A well-defined starting point also calls for a clear endpoint. Ask yourself: What’s the goal, and, more crucially, when do we consider it achieved? Keep your focus and establish the conditions your result must meet.

✅ Do: Involve employees in the process

Involve your employees meaningfully; after all, it’s about their name, their brand. They’ll transition from the familiar to the new and proudly showcase it to the world. It’s a process in itself.

✅ Do: Communicate in a concrete way

The ideal moment to share news about the upcoming rebranding is when the decision to change is sealed and the naming process kicks off. Back up this message with a straightforward and consistent story. 

Immediately clarify the current situation, its implications for your team, and the goals in progress. A well-defined timeline with clear action points offers practical guidance during these transitions.

✅ Do: Take time, create space, and support

Employees can play an active role in the renaming process depending on different factors. The aim might be to understand the current scenario, gather expectations for the future, and collect inspiration and ideas for the new brand name. 

Plus, involving employees in these discussions helps foster support for the upcoming changes in brand positioning. Employee surveys and interviews are both useful tools for this. 

❌ Don’t: Turn finding a new name into a contest

No, do not do this! This only leads to disappointments. Give employees the freedom to share their ideas in a non-committal way.

❌ Don’t: Holding on to the ‘old’ positioning

When it comes to renaming, it’s not just slapping on a new name; it involves more. Take a moment to revisit the positioning. This strategy was chosen for a reason, and now is the time to innovate and future-proof your brand.

❌ Don’t: Let competition or the ‘environment’ sway you

Rebranding starts from within. Looking at other brands is okay, but focus on what your brand brings to the table and for whom.

❌ Don’t: Procrastinate on the introduction

The story around your rebranding should be an integral part of the process. Test every decision, ensuring the change can be explained and accepted. Don’t tack this on later; a compelling rollout story is crucial.

So, what’s next?

You’ve chosen a new name that’s set to make a difference. What’s next? A few more steps are needed to make it truly yours.

  • Check and secure the domain availability. If they’re already taken, explore acquisition possibilities.
  • Conduct brand concordance research in relevant product classes and brand registers to understand existing trademarks. We can guide you in selecting appropriate classes with a trademark attorney.
  • Conduct a trade name search in relevant Chamber of Commerce registers to identify potential issues. Results provide a good indication of success in the new trademark registration.
  • If the results support a successful registration, deposit the new trademark in the relevant classes and registers.
  • If there’s no opposition within two months, your trademark is officially registered.
  • Now’s the time to notify the Chamber of Commerce about the name change, which can be easily done through their website.
  • If not done in the first step, secure/purchase the relevant domains.
  • If your B.V.’s name is changing, consult a notary to update the official statutory name.
  • Now, the development of the visual identity can begin. Once the redesigned logo is ready, protect it by registering both the wordmark and logo as a trademark.

And then… start spreading the word!

Conclusion

We often find that the naming process is not just a means to find a suitable brand name but also to gain clarity about a brand and its positioning. It’s also a great project to kick off collaboration, especially in the case of a merger or acquisition. Rebranding requires courage, demonstrates boldness, and, if executed well, opens up a world of new opportunities and perspectives for the future.

Considering a rebrand? We’re here to guide you and your brand every step of the way. 

Let us be your strategic partner in creating a verbal brand that stands out.