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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

3 Signs That Your Startup Needs a Rebrand

Updated: Jan 27

52 years ago, a company was founded in North America that would go on to become a staple in American culture, as well as a hub for thousands of startups (maybe even yours) around the world.

But this company did not begin as anything close to the international powerhouse brand that it is today. In fact, the company actually started as a local coffee bean retailer. A far cry from what it is today.

You may have already guessed the company that I’m referring to. And if that guess is Starbucks—you are correct!

Yes, while we all know Starbucks today as the incredibly successful multinational coffeehouse chain that is beloved by millions of people around the world. Starbucks success could mainly be attributed to one of the greatest rebrands of all time. Which is what your startup should also do whenever you see these signs.

Discordance with its core audience

Here in beautiful Silicon Valley, one of the many ongoing debate topics in the startup community is the importance of product-market fit; the degree to which a product satisfies a strong demand.

But what those that participate in product-market fit debates often fail to acknowledge is the power that having an appealing brand has on persuading people to purchase any product. Even products with no demand that consumers never even thought about.

“I think the best brands are those that create something for consumers that they don’t even know they need yet.” States Tether CEO and former Starbucks vice president global creative Stanley Hainsworth, in Brand Thinking, authored by Debbie Millman. “A coffee brand like Starbucks created something people didn’t even know they needed.”

One of the biggest components that goes into creating an appealing brand is choosing the right group of people the brand would appeal to. Which is its core (target) audience.

Even if your startup has the best products in the world—if your brand isn’t on the same page with its core audience—those products will often go unnoticed. In that case, either change your brand’s core audience—or change the way your brand is structured in a way that’ll be more appealing to its current audience.

Lack of distinction

Above everything else, the main objective of all brands is to stand out from all others in their industry. That’s because in order to reach its full potential—a brand must be distinctive.

If a considerable number of customers have confused your brand with others in its industry—that is a clear sign that it is time to make necessary changes to your brand in a way that will make it clearly distinctive from all others.

Those changes could consist of:

  • New brand colors.

  • A different logo.

  • Changing your brand’s products or services.

  • New distribution methods.

  • Revamping your website.

  • Changing your brand’s personality and social media presence.

  • Featuring a brand ambassador.

Any combination of the rebranding weapons listed above will help ensure that your brand will be perceived differently. Which is every brand's ultimate objective.

Changes in market positioning

Ask anyone that has ever managed a brand for a significant amount of time and they’ll agree—change is a certainty when it comes to branding. One of the biggest changes that a brand will ever experience is a change in its positioning in the minds of consumers compared to its competitors.

And if you fail to position your brand properly—your competitors will gladly position it for you (which would be beneath theirs). Whenever that happens, it’s time to rebrand and change your brand’s positioning.

“The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what’s already up there in the mind, to retie connections that already exist.” Writes the late Al Ries and Jack Trout, co-authors of the classic marketing book Positioning.

If your brand currently isn’t positioned in the mind of your audience in a way you desire, manipulate perception by changing your brand’s narrative in the market in a way that will position it to be perceived suitably.

Essentially, a rebrand is a retie. Try to think of repositioning your brand as sort of like retying a message in the mind of your audience. Just be sure that when you do retie that message—it's positioned properly this time.


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