Brands, Branding, Rebranding, Brand Strategy all terms that have become a part of my everyday language here at Design the Planet, as I talk to business owners and decision makers about building their brands.

It surprises me when people talk about their branding, and brand strategy, as graphic design — logos, web sites and elements of visual identity. But visual identity, although absolutely essential in branding, is just one step in the broader scope, which is brand strategy.

Brand strategy has the objective of building a STRONG BRAND and a rebranding strategy has the objective of building a STRONGER BRAND. Neither can be understated in the success of your business.

A good brand strategy can be a very complex exercise and can determine the success of your company; without a brand strategy companies often fail. Starting a business or rebranding a business without a good understanding of your brand is often a recipe for disaster.

Too often rebranding efforts are only about changing a logo, but the reality is, even after improving a logo; many companies don’t sort out their bad customer service, or improve product functionality. It amazes me that many companies simply do not think that these strategic elements have anything to do with their brand!

A decision to rebrand can give business owners and decision makers time to review and renew the company’s brand strategy, the opportunity to get away from a tired image or, the ability to create something more consistent with changing market needs.

Here are a few things to consider before building a new brand or rebranding an old one:

  • Audience Diversity – What are the target segments for your brand? Is the brand focused on just one audience or must it appeal to many?
  • Brand Elasticity – How far can the brand stretch to cover different products and markets? Harley Davidson made a classic blunder applying their brand to wine coolers.
  • Product/Service Offerings – Are their other brands in your portfolio that need to be positioned and targeted? Are your brands complementary, competitive or incongruent?
  • Competitive Context – What are competitive branding practices? How do customers view the marketplace? Does your brand help you stand out and grab market share?
  • Brand Equities – Does your brand have a particular following or a unique heritage or equity that must be carried forward?
  • Geographic Needs – How consistent are needs/preferences across cultures and markets? Strong local brands might not work in other countries. Not every brand can “travel”.
  • Organizational Structures – Who is accountable for branding practices and standards? What are the political realities behind brands in your portfolio?
  • Ownership – Does the organization have legal control over its brand? You’ll have less leeway with licensed brands.
  • Sources of Growth – What businesses and brands are expected to drive future growth for your company? Are they helping you pursue your strategy?
  • Purchase Criteria – How do people buy your products? Do they ask for products by brand name or do they ask for a generic name or your company brand name? Do your brands make buying easier? How much do people want or need your brands?
  • Brand Performance – How do brands perform against desired attributes? Is their positioning clear and effective?
  • Brand Role – What is role of brand in fulfilling the business model? How important is the brand in driving awareness or creating loyalty?
  • Channels – What channels and distribution methods are available and how are they used across the brand portfolio?
  • Company Specific Issues – What considerations are specific to your company or industry? What might be technically correct might not be feasible in the reality of your company. Sometimes theory has to bow to practicality.