Updated: Aug 8, 2018
by Phil Davis
Branding & Naming Expert President of Tungsten Branding
Improve Your Image and Your Bottom Line
When asked, most business owners will admit that their companies have changed, adapted and evolved over time, to better serve their clients needs. These natural course corrections will often lead to entirely new products and services, yet the original corporate identity often remains in place. This old, static image can be confusing at best and costly at worst.
• Only a tiny fraction of Radio Shack’s sales comes from radios.
• Only one of Virginia College’s twenty locations is in Virginia
• Burlington Coat Factory sells more than just coats (and has used a good deal of marketing budget to drive that message home)
• CompUSA (Computers in the United States?) filed for bankruptcy while Best Buy continues on.
Are you constantly clarifying?
One sure sign that you may need to rebrand is if you find yourself continually explaining what your company really does. Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing had to rebrand to 3M to accommodate their growth into other areas. Kentucky Fried Chicken rebadged to KFC, allowing them to expand their menu and avoid the negative connotations of “fried” foods.
Another way to look at the issue is to think in terms of a drag co-efficient. If your company brand name is outdated, inaccurate or misleading, estimate how much more advertising it requires to explain and clarify the message — 20%, 30%, more? Consider the lost opportunity costs of potential clients who simply don’t consider your company when it comes to buying your products and services? Would most consumers know that The Company Store sells bedding, bath accessories and sleepwear?
Successful rebranding strategies
One solution? Make the shift from a product-identified name to a metaphor type name. For example, rather than having a name such as Muffler City, which keeps you locked into one category, consider the example of Midas Muffler, which plays off King Midas’s golden touch to convey excellence in workmanship. When Midas expanded from mufflers to brakes and shocks, they didn’t need to change their name. In fact, they simplified it to Midas.
Apple also chose their company name wisely, which allowed them to drop the word “Computers” from their name, and expand into mp3 players, cell phones and tablets. Amazon chose a name associated with abundance and diversity, and their product line expanded to fit the image. On the other hand, Books-A-Million (a product-identified brand name), works hard to let consumers know they also sell kids toys and coffee mugs.
Another alternative when rebranding a company is to go with a key attribute name. These timeless names work well even when your products and services change. They focus on the benefit behind your company and not the goods it currently offers. Examples include the previously mentioned Best Buy, as well as Sir Speedy, Priceline, Service Masters, TruValue, Comfort Inn, etc. By aligning with your core benefit, you can continually modify your service offerings without having to change your company name.
Bottom Line Benefits of Rebranding
One of the biggest benefits to company rebranding, is the potential impact to the bottom line. When we rebranded a very literal and plain sounding landscape company based in Florida, Wholesale Landscape Supply, into the more dynamic and imaginative Big Earth, their year over year sales increased by 200%. The owner attributed much of the increase to higher customer recall, retention and top of mind awareness. Customers went so far as to ask for bumper stickers with the new company name. Big Earth made a big difference. That’s because higher recall leads to higher returns.
Allow room for future growth
Rebranding your business can improve your bottom line by conveying your company’s core value and brand message. It can shift your sales team’s focus from a defensive posture (i.e. explaining common misconceptions about your company,) to a more productive discussion of your key benefits and solutions. If you find yourself limited by a product-identified, a geographically-identified, outdated or misleading company name, rebranding offers the opportunity to clarify your image, while allowing room for future growth. And that’s a company benefit that pays dividends!
About the author: With over twenty five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought after branding expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.