It is important to understand what we mean by “branding” before diving into the warning signs. I would like to take an excerpt from one of my favorite branding books, Emotional Branding by Marc Gobe. The book is still a staple to understanding the concepts of emotional branding and marketing, even though it was written over a decade ago.

“Branding is not only about ubiquity, visibility, and functions; it is about bonding emotionally with people in their daily life. Only when a product or a service kindles an emotional dialogue with the consumer, can this product or service qualify to be a brand.”

A rebrand is about redesigning and rewriting your story. It isn’t enough to hire an agency to deliver new colors and a “cool new logo.” It is about redefining why you do business. It’s about changing with the consumer both technologically and commercially. So what are the five warning signs your business may need a rebrand?

1. Your logo resembles your eighties glamour shot.  You all know what I’m talking about… that embarrassing photo with the big hair and bright clothes. The glamour shot didn’t work in the eighties and it doesn’t work now. If your brand is outdated it may be time to invest in a rebrand. This doesn’t have to be a logo rebrand as much as a story rewrite.

2. You are still using the tagline “Best Customer Service.” You must move from building an identity to having a personality. Having the “best customer service” does not differentiate you from the competition. Everyone has the best customer service. It is about not focusing entirely on brochures, direct mail, and banners but driving towards the customer experience. Do you have the best experience than any other brand? Are you the go-to choice?

Want an excellent example of a brand pushing the boundaries of experiences and service? Just look to your local Starbucks. Employees are trained to remember names, drinks, and overall preferences of customers walking in the store. They are committed to the overall experience of each store instead of building a great ad campaign. Actions speak much louder than words.

3. You must advance to reach new audiences. Phil Daniels of Tactic Marketing said it best, “As a company grows, its brand can change and stand for something different from its humble beginnings. Brands advance to reach new audiences; the challenge is to introduce a position that resonates and connects with them.” The saying “change or die” works pretty well here. You must advance your brand look and story to be innovative in the digital world of today.

4. You start statements with “we think” or “I imagine” when discussing strategy. You believe your opinion is more important than the market. I always like to say that data beats opinions. If you are using past experience and subjectivity to keep your old brand, it may be time for an upgrade.

5. Your business plan should be poised towards the future. MBC Strategic says, “Revisit overarching goals to see where you are generating the most results. Examining sales and market share can provide significant insight into business success. The degree at which you meet your business goals can be a direct result of your marketing and communications efforts.” If your brand does not align with business goals each side will falter while moving through the fast-paced business world. Your core strength (brand) is important to fully reach your customers. If you fail to reach and communicate your core strength to your customers you will fall short.

Remember, the term rebrand does not necessarily apply to design changes. It is much more than that. It is about the consumer experience and the story around that experience.  Your customer is your best sales person, do not let them go silently into the wind. They will give you your brand and your voice.