When to Rebrand

Mark Arnold
When to Rebrand

“Cookie cutters are for baking, not branding.” — David Brier, The Lucky Brand

“It’s time to rebrand.” Have you ever heard that statement from a board member, C-suite executive or marketing director at your credit union or community bank? If you’ve been around for any length of time, more likely than not the subject of a rebrand has arisen in various discussions.

Rebrands are popular. But are they necessary? Only if a brand update is a solution to an existing problem. You never want to rebrand just to rebrand.

Before tackling if it’s time to rebrand, let’s first define what we mean by that term. A rebrand is a strategic process of updating who you are. As we routinely tell our clients, branding is more cultural than collateral. Rebranding typically involves four steps: research, strategy, creative and training.

Can a rebrand involve updating your logo and look? Yes. But not always. Many times, you can rebrand by focusing on your culture, your messaging, your niches, your employees, your vision and your values. More often than not, those are the items that need refreshing.

So, when should you rebrand? Here are five key moments that could trigger a strategic update to your brand:

1. Stagnant Growth — If loans, new consumer acquisition or deposits are slowing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem in those areas. It could indicate you have a brand problem. Stale brands hit ceilings. There is a direct correlation between financial results and successful brands. As Jim Stengel says in Grow, “In terms of growth and margin, brand is really what it comes down to in the end.” Want more growth? Update your brand.


2. Merger — If you are either acquiring another financial institution or completing a merger of equals, it’s time to look at your brand. Branding is more cultural than collateral, and mergers involve multiple cultures coming together. Even if you are not in the middle of an existing merger (but mergers are a part of your growth strategy), then you need to examine your brand. The stronger your brand, the more likely a potential merger partner will view your organization as the best option. Want successful mergers? Update your brand.


3. Confused and Unengaged Staff — Your employees are brand ambassadors. So, how well are they representing your brand? According to a recent survey from Gallup, “Employee engagement has reached its lowest levels in nine years.” If your employees don’t know your vision, mission and values, then it’s time to rebrand. We tell branding clients all the time that executives lead the brand and employees live the brand. Staff must see a direct correlation between their jobs and your brand. Let’s be honest: most employees are confused or don’t know your brand. Want a more engaged staff? Update your brand.

4. Outdated Look — As we said above, a rebrand is far more strategic than visual. However, your look can quickly become stale and outdated over time. According to Zippia, the average lifespan of a logo is 10 years. You probably notice even big brands like Amazon and Google slightly updating their logos to keep consumers’ eyes engaged. Your logo is the most visible part of your brand. It either tells consumers you’re able to meet their modern-day needs or it drives them away. As Bob Maxwell, Vice President of Marketing for Greylock FCU said after their logo update, “It was an amazing experience, and more importantly, our new look has been very well received in the community.” Want a new look? Update your brand.


5. New Markets — If you are entering a new market or trying to reach a new niche in an existing market, then you must examine your brand. One of the worst investments you can make is to spend millions of dollars on a new branch while having an outdated brand that doesn’t connect with your new area. Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks says, “If you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.” That means your brand must be bold as you seek to increase your impact with new markets. Want to explore new markets? Update your brand.

Branding touches everything. It touches your growth, your mergers, your employees, your look and your markets. To have success in those key areas, make sure your brand resonates. And if it doesn’t—rebrand.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO