In the face of a public relations crisis, a company may decide the only way forward is a total rebrand. It might seem daunting at first, but if your image is truly tarnished, rebranding is a necessary part of recovery and survival.
With the right plan, a company can use a rebrand as an opportunity to not only start fresh, bur grow stronger. Below, 10 experts from Forbes Agency Council offer insights on addressing a PR crisis, when it’s time to rebrand and how to execute a rebrand successfully.
1. Acknowledge The Problem
Rebranding can stem from an internal culture shift, business focus shift or (as noted) a PR crisis. My No. 1 tip for rebranding after a crisis is acknowledge the problem. Publicly addressing the issue head-on and presenting your intent to improve helps you get out in front of the issue and can reduce scrutiny and make your rebrand more successful. – Bernard May, National Positions
2. Honor Your Relationship With Your Customers
In a crisis, brands often try and erase what happened and their association to it. But in today’s world, it’s important to realize that the internet doesn’t forget. A successful rebrand must acknowledge the crisis and outline a new direction that’s aligned with the brand’s values and that honors the relationship with the audience. If your rebrand is hiding something rotten, it won’t remain hidden for long. – Kevin Smith, Mighty Roar
3. Recalibrate Your Audience’s Perception
When a brand faces a crisis to the point of requiring a rebrand, it’s imperative to recalibrate the perception of the brand among your target audience. Introduce the new message, the logo and the leaders; share insight on why it’s improved and the actions you’re taking to shift; and acknowledge mistakes and why this rebrand was required. Always own the actions and share your steps to be better. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing
4. Own Your ‘Changed Company’ Identity
Nowadays consumers build emotional relationships with companies they purchase from, frequent or invest in. Negative occurrences or PR crises often feel like a personal betrayal, or close to it. This is why becoming a “changed company” is necessary in order to gain forgiveness or trust. Owning it, heartfelt apologies and clear action plans to improve are a must, just as in any relationship. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs
5. Ensure Any Guilty Parties Are Removed
If there is something that goes wrong and if it is the fault of the company, it is very important to own the fault that is necessary for that position and for that person. That means that you need to ensure that the guilty parties have been removed and that it is going to be possible to start over again with the right information. – Jon James, Ignited Results
6. Don’t Rebrand; Reframe
Crisis is inevitable for every brand, at every stage of growth. While rebranding can usually be a quick win, our tribes are much smarter than we think and very in tune with what companies will do and why they do such things. The key is to stay authentic; be true to your brand and core values. Instead of rebranding, focus on reframing. Pivot well and stay purpose-driven to win big. – Michael Gaizutis, RNO1
7. Use A Rebrand To Repair Your Search Results
If the brand and reputation are tarnished, it can be hard to shake those perceptions. We have short memories and even shorter attention spans, so it can sometimes be a better decision to start fresh. We also see that crises are shaped in the media but preserved in search, where they live on as a reminder of the crisis long after it has passed or was resolved. Rebranding can help reshape results. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ
8. View Your New Brand Through The Customer’s Eyes
A total rebrand is necessary when a crisis has so tarnished the reputation of a company or product that there is no chance of recovering brand loyalty or affinity. In other words, when the brand is detrimental to sales, it’s time to change. Rebranding demands that the new brand must be viewed through the consumer’s eyes, not those of management, and must specifically address their objections. – Erik Clausen, CG Life
9. Recommit To The Brand’s Founding Mission
Rebranding is often the best course of action after a PR crisis, since it serves as a great opportunity to broaden the brand’s appeal and shed lasting and costly negative associations with the brand. By candidly admitting and communicating a brand’s faults and vigorously recommitting to its founding mission, a brand can spark excitement and regain trust by being refreshingly honest. – Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC
10. Rebirth Your Brand With A Clear Message
To be reborn is to restart. After a crisis, a rebranding is necessary in the form of visuals, messaging and content to be born again properly. If your message is not clear, the crisis may pick up again. If your message speaks to your audience, your rebirth will work to your advantage. Work on positioning and have the right message to allow you to be reborn, not simply rebrand. – Anthony Katz, iNexxus
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