Brave new world

As Spanish banking giant Santander completes its rebranding of Abbey National and Bradford and Bingley this month, and American conglomerate Kraft swallows up Cadbury, many may feel a pang of sadness as the darlings of British business keep diminishing.

But like it or not the world moves on, and as a small business it could be beneficial to heed this message.

Even if your sales are strong and you have a loyal customer base, giving your ‘brand image’ a rethink could be worth your while. It may be that your company or your customers have moved on since your business idea was first conceived. Ask yourself whether the brand effectively communicates what sets you apart from your competitors, and if you are appealing to the customers you wish to attract.

Rebranding doesn’t have to involve paying thousands to an image consultant to pick a silly name, all it requires is some basic market research. Work out the target market you want to connect, or re-connect with, and then think about what the ‘personality of your business’ actually is and how you can better reflect this.

Luxury confectionary business Hotel Chocolat is a good rebranding example. As the highstreet becomes synonymous with ‘closing down sales’, Hotel Chocolat is opening new stores not only in the UK but in the US and the Middle East. This is a 20 year-old business that only really found its feet after chief exec Angus Thirwell and his team realised the name Chocolate Express wasn’t right for the type of customer he was trying to attract. ‘What was missing was a red hot brand,’ says Thirwell. The new name and look has, in essence, made the business the finished article: ‘As soon as we saw the new brand was working we were able to mobilise our efforts behind it and push it hard.’

If you already have a loyal customer base, as Thirwell did, then it won’t result in a loss of product recognition by your existing punters. Instead, you will be widening your reach with a new name that summarizes all the emotional and rational feelings you want your products to convey.

But if you feel your name already encompasses this, and still want a fresher image, think about a new logo. This could simply be a change in typeface, colour or shape of your product or company name. And will give you a reason for a new marketing push.

Whatever you decide, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, there is no point in trying to create a false image as customers will automatically see through this, even if the likes of Shell went down this route with its ‘eco-warrior’ rebrand.

In the face of change, standing still is the worst thing you can do for your business.

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Brands & Branding

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