This week WeWork announced a rebranding. The company will now be referred to as the We Company. This also has come along with a $2 billion investment from SoftBank Group.
“The We Company is an ambitious strategy to broaden the company’s aspirations from places to people,” said John Gerzema, who is the CEO of The Harris Poll. “And it’s a sound move because WeWork remains as a famous sub-brand the same way Google is to Alphabet. This strategic evolution should please both investors and customers.”
Yet it is still risky. “A rebrand tends to fail when the name has no discernable relationship to the companies beneath the new umbrella,” said Brady Donnelly, who is the Executive Director of Consumer Experience at FIG. “I think the most famous recent example is probably when Tribune Publishing changed its name to Tronc, which was an awful word. Then, after being ridiculed, management changed it back. The reaction was made worse by the fact that the business itself was failing, and the name change just seemed like an attention grab.”
Why Should A Company Do A Rebrand?
According to Joe Walsh, who is a senior partner at Finn Partners, there are three main reasons for a rebrand:
- Your company and/or its markets have changed and the current brand does not reflect who the company is or aims to become.
- There is a merger. In fact, this is the most common reason.
- The company’s suit of clothes is out of date, unbecoming or otherwise out of step with the times.
An example is Logitech in 2015, when the company was in the midst of a turnaround and needed to refresh its brand. “Part of our turnaround was putting design at the core of every product we created, and it was critical that our brand communicated that shift to consumers,” said Alastair Curtis, who is the chief design officer for Logitech. “Through the rebranding process, we re-imagined our logo and established a new logomark – Logi – with bold colors and an updated look. By evaluating every aspect of our brand, its history, and where we wanted the company to go, we were able to align our business turnaround with the bold transformation of our brand that consumers know today.”
Planning For The Rebrand
A rebrand should not be done hastily. It’s just too important of a decision.
To improve the odds of success, it’s a good idea to conduct a brand audit. This means having surveys, customer interviews, brand sentiment analysis and comparisons of NetPromoter Scores. Yet it’s also critical that the decisionmaking not get bogged down either. Yes, it can be a tough balance to strike.
Consider Bombfell, which went through a rebrand in 2011. The main reason was that the company had undergone a transformation of its service offerings and client base over the years.
“We first conducted several valuable exercises across the entire organization to codify our core values,” said Sandro Roco, who is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Bombfell. “We wanted to hear directly from our employees and in their voice what made Bombfell unique. That said, while it was important to include as many voices as we could early in the process, we learned the hard way that the decision on the final brand direction had to be left to just a few key decision makers. For us — and we imagine most smaller companies — this ultimately came from the founders.”
All in all, it was the right choice, as the rebrand was a key for growth.
“Our belief is that the strongest brands today stake out a unique position and rally the company, customers and other evangelizers behind that voice,” said Sandro. “Unfortunately, while well-meaning, we found the rule-by-consensus approach too often smoothed out the edges necessary to creating a distinct brand.”