Rebranding: Out with the old, in with the old?


I am a caulk wizard.

Which is good, because it’s all over my gray sweatpants.

I’m standing on a step stool in what will eventually be my master bedroom, holding a cup of water in one hand. I’m running a finger of the other hand along the underside of the ceiling trim, smoothing the caulk I just squeezed there.

And as always, when you’re working in a Hurricane Katrina-ruined house, the conversation turns to how bad the damage was, everything you lost, and what your new house will look like.

“If you’re rebuilding your home, it has to be better than it was before. It HAS to be! Otherwise, what was the point of going through this?” my friend says.

My hand freezes in midair and I glance at her. She’s a Katrina victim herself, whose house was almost washed away, so she understands.

And I realize she’s boiled this entire experience down to five words: It has to be better.

All these years later, the phrase still echoes in my head.

It has to be better.

Why rebuild without improving? Otherwise we didn’t learn anything, did we?

Rebranding seems to be everyone’s favorite pastime these days. But a lot of it is out with the old, in with the old. Executives are racing around, waxing eloquent about trending colors and updated fonts, honestly believing that a new visual identity will usher in new company morale.

No one seems to appreciate that IT HAS TO BE BETTER.

So often companies pursue rebranding to correct problems that no amount of branding can fix, like:

  •   Low employee morale
  •   Non-existent internal communication
  •   Ego-driven leadership
  •   Irrelevant products and services
  •   Outdated and inefficient operational procedures

Great branding cannot save a bad product/company/leadership team, people.

Why are you rebranding? Are you branching out into new lines of service, or expanding into new markets? Great! But if the reasons are ego-based and without any supporting evidence, why are you on this path? Because it’s fun and easy? Or will make a pretty presentation to the board of directors?

After Katrina, I removed a kitchen wall, added a laundry room with 16 square feet of additional storage, and enlarged my bathroom to include a Jacuzzi tub. As a branding communications professional, I want to push companies to reorder their internal communications channels, reenergize their training programs, and reevaluate their product offerings – not just revamp their logos.

It’s not enough to just brand better. You actually have to BE better.