Rebrand and replenish

Written on the 7 April 2009

 

REBRANDING your business may seem like a daunting task. It’s a common misconception that a painstaking number of hours will be spent on decision making and negotiating. But in reality, it could be vital to the future prosperity of your business.
The SME market is a clutter of competing businesses with only marginal points of difference. So, how much does your business stand out? Rebranding doesn’t have to be painful or arduous. In fact it can be quite fun and the results could blast your business into a league of its own.
Robina-based creative hub Cocojambo has completed 40 small and mid-sized company rebrands in the UK, US and Australia. Owner Claes Loberg identified a gap in the market which needed some serious plugging.
“In the past we’ve done work with American Express and Coca Cola but we realised, in the SME market there are hundreds of companies who have a problem with branding,” explains Loberg.
The breakthrough
Companies need to adjust the way they think about their services or products from a common philosophy to a more targeted attitude. Loberg emphasises the importance of businesses understanding their clients and their purchasing needs, as opposed to pushing a product that the company is attempting to sell.
 “Little businesses as they grow change their marketing strategies and it’s basically them internally, or through a design studio saying ‘this is what our product is, and they stick it out there and hope that people buy it’,” says Loberg.
“Developing a brand is about changing the message from what you’re selling to what your customers are buying.” 
Take Oculus, an accounting practice which recently completed its rebranding process with favourable results. The 60-year-old accounting firm formerly known as Watson and Fenton has been moving from compliance into consulting and financial services. For the newly branded Oculus, it was instrumental to define what customers were buying from the firm and which type of customers the firm was looking to attract.
This narrowed the focus explains Loberg: “The work that we do and the work we’ve done with Oculus is taking a business that thinks what they do is accounting services and realising what their customers are buying which is completely different. They are buying, in this case, their knowledge for example through their financial accounting services.”
The process
Loberg explains that the rebranding process can’t be just a mere facelift and changes have to occur across all dimensions of the business.
“If you are going to change your brand, it can’t just be a change externally, it has to be a change internally so that people understand what it is they are doing, and what they will be doing differently,” he says.
“Somehow you have to get that engagement from your staff so the service becomes different and your clients start to see something differently. Once you have a customer on board, branding depends on how the customer experiences the product based on what they believe they were going to get. That’s their trust of the brand and that’s what you want the brand to be.”
Loberg says that once the ideology is in place the rest will follow, allowing for growth and expansion.
“You can move and expand into all these different products and services because a person believes in your brand. Your name means something that they trust – they will be more engaged with your firm and you will continuously grow because your customers are happy to be there and happy to help you grow,” he says.
The client
Oculus director David de Closey says the rebranding process was something the firm needed to undertake in order to streamline its client acquisition.
“It was a change in the culture of the firm, we wanted to come from compliance to consulting and the business was at a point where it was big and working and operational but we wanted it to be different and bigger than the normal accounting firm,” he says.
For any company wanting to undertake a radical transformation there will inevitably be challenging factors that face management. De Closey argues the most important consideration is the aim and result for the rebrand.
“The ultimate is to understand why you are rebranding. We were doing it because we wanted to appear bigger to step out of the normal type of accountancy firm,” he says.
Often in a medium-sized business such as Oculus, too many chefs in the kitchen can be the biggest challenge when trying to agree on the best direction.
“Having four business partners and having four people involved was the most challenging for us during this rebrand. To get four people’s minds thinking exactly the same way is very challenging,” explains de Closey.
But Loberg argues that this can also act as a uniting force.
“The rebrand can actually reinvigorate or create interest and focus among the directors to think about what they really want to achieve,” he says.
Since the rebrand, Oculus has experienced significant growth. In 2007, the company was growing at around 3 to 4 per cent per year. This figure then increased to 9 per cent in 2008 following the launch. This year growth is forecast at 20 per cent.
Is it for you?
Rebranding is an intricate process and Loberg stresses the importance of understanding this before embarking on the journey.
“People think a rebrand is a new logo and they think by creating a new logo the business will somehow become better. You have to figure out what you want to do. Do you want to generate more profit, or generate more customers? There has to be a core reason of why you are trying to rebrand.” 
For Oculus, the decision is justified by the results.
Concludes de Closey: “It’s a very exciting process because it changes your focus. You’re thinking ‘what do I have to do to live up to the branding name?’ The four partners agree of the type of work we want to do so that means it’s focussed. It’s an enjoyable and wonderful experience to get to the end and say look what I’ve achieved and it’s an ongoing process.”

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