Rebranding is one of the trickiest, and most expensive things you can do in marketing. But it’s not always a good idea… and many companies do it unnecessarily.
You may have heard that social media giant Facebook — undoubtedly one of the most powerful, successful companies of the 21st century — recently announced that they are rebranding. They have changed their corporate name to “Meta” to reflect the company’s full line of current, and planned, products and platforms designed to build the “metaverse.”
If you’re like most people, your reaction was probably something like this:
That’s a perfectly understandable response, given that the name Facebook has been part of people’s daily lives… and ingrained in the cultural zeitgeist… for nearly two decades. However, the company has always had aspirations beyond its ubiquitous social media platform. So the name change wasn’t completely out of the blue.
But it does bring up an interesting discussion about rebranding in general. Rebranding a building product, or residential or commercial service offering, can be a tricky, disruptive and expensive undertaking. And it may not always be advisable… or fruitful.
Why do it?
Barrette Outdoor Living, Inc., is in the midst of a rebranding initiative in an effort to “own the outside” as it relates to home products. Previously, the company had several brand names under its umbrella, including DuraLife, Xpanse Greater Outdoors, and others.
This is a familiar situation in the home and building industry. As companies unveil new products and solutions — or acquire other companies — it’s understandable why they would be hesitant to sacrifice the hard won equity of their various brand names.
But, eventually, they simply have too many brand names to manage. And their brand portfolio becomes… well, confusing.
In such cases, rebranding for the purpose of consolidation is almost always a good idea… and the case of Barrette is no exception. As a result of their initiative, the brand will become more streamlined and, ultimately, stronger. And they won’t have to work as hard to generate awareness among their target audiences.
The thing about Angi
As much as the Barrette rebranding makes sense, we’re not so sure about Angie’s List recent name-change to Angi.
In deciding to change their name, company officials cited their evolution from a contractor review platform… to one that directly connects contractors and consumers. This happened primarily when Angie’s List acquired HomeAdvisor.
The company wanted to merge — and capitalize upon — the recognition of the two brands. While, at the same time, sacrificing as little brand equity as possible. As much as we applaud the idea of keeping just one brand name… this rebrand feels unnecessary.
Angi is still very close in functionality to Angie’s List, but it’s not similar at all to HomeAdvisor. So instead of ditching one brand and keeping the other… they ditched one brand and weakened the other.
As a result, the company has already seen reduced brand awareness. We’re confident they will be able to rebuild it, but it will take time and money. Why sacrifice that brand equity if you don’t have to?
From unmemorable to unpronounceable
Sometimes, however, companies choose to rebrand to a name that’s more interesting, exciting or memorable. This often happens after some sort of corporate restructuring… as was the case with LSI (Lonza Specialty Ingredients).
The manufacturer is undergoing a rebranding and adopting the name Arxada. In this case, the rebranding might be necessary, as Arxada is branching off to become a separate, independent entity from their previous corporate parent.
And, LSI is an excessively forgettable name that we suspect didn’t have much brand equity to begin with. So they’re essentially creating a new brand.
But there’s a huge missed opportunity here, as the company chose as its new name a word that’s both esoteric and difficult to pronounce. This from the company whose chief product — Wolmanized Wood — is subject to some potential embarrassment via overzealous spell checkers.
Company officials say “Arxada” is derived from arx and arcis, the Latin words for citadel and fortress, and reflects their mission of providing products that protect people, places and the planet.
Cue the puzzled look…
We don’t mean to be glib (well, maybe just a little), but it seems clear that not enough creative thought was exercised when determining the new name. Yes, rebranding is a significant undertaking that should be approached carefully. But one of the most important aspects in any rebranding initiative is choosing a name that will be meaningful and/or memorable. Not just one that just happens to fall at the beginning of the alphabet.
Is it really necessary?
Getting back to Facebook and Meta, some people are wondering if the timing is umm… unfortunate. Facebook — or do we call them Meta, now? — is facing some heat for their internal practices… and has lost a great deal of trust in the past year.
Facebook/Meta no doubt feels their PR problems are temporary… and that those issues shouldn’t deter their rebranding efforts. Perhaps, they’re right. Rebranding is a big deal. That can take years to fully execute. You can’t predict a PR crisis, so it’s all but impossible to time your rebranding around the “what ifs” and “what might happen.”
Truth is there’s never really a good time to rebrand — so if you need to do it, why not start right away.
Before you jump in, however, ask yourself if rebranding is really necessary. It may be, especially if you have a confusing list of sub-brands like Barrette did. Or, if you’re establishing a new corporate entity, as Arxada is.
But it may not be required. The Coca-Cola company has more than 500 brand names, yet remains one of the most identifiable — and valuable — brands in the world. The company is coming up on its 130th birthday, and has never re-branded itself. After all, even “New Coke” was still called Coke.
In our view, companies often underestimate the expense of rebranding — in terms of money, resources and customer awareness — and, just as importantly, overestimate their need to do it at all.
That said, rebranding, when done thoughtfully and after careful assessment, can be highly impactful. Over the years, we have helped a number of companies successfully reimagine themselves.
Want to explore ways to boost your brand’s equity? Send an email to Steve Kleber at firstname.lastname@example.org.