I have a cantankerous 18 year old cat who doesn’t really like anyone. Except when it’s Tuna Time. He swats at my 10-year old niece and chases her away. But he’s just recently learned that kids frequently have Goldfish. I wasn’t about to correct him on this misunderstanding. Consequently he’s decided to rebrand as Mr Fluffy. You see Mr means he’s due some respect, and Fluffy implies that he’s approachable. If kids think he’s approachable, he’ll have their Goldfish – no doubt about it. But it is PT Barnum thinking, because it only works once.

Mr Fluffy’s rebranding is, alas, a familiar tale. Too many companies brand themselves to be the brand their customers want, without ever actually taking the time to become the company their customers want. It’s so much easier to rebrand than change what you do. And way easier than building demand for what you do. Too many people think that brand recognition ends at recognition. If people know the name, that’s good enough.

Well it used to be in less information driven times. And it was never enough for small-to-mid-sized business which rely on networking, word-of-mouth, and referrals. If you fall into this camp, a rebranding is likely to get you laughed at unless it’s coupled with a major shift in what you do. Or realignment with what you’ve always done. If you were MacReady’s Sole Proprietor, and rebrand as Tom’s Shoe Repair, that can work for you. You’ve matched the brand to what you do. If, like Mr Fluffy you rebrand to have wider appeal, then you need to alter behaviour, and services accordingly.

First step in successful rebranding is to determine what your customers think of you (MEAN OLD CAT), and compare it to what you think (KING). Ask them what they want (PURRS), and determine how to provide it (BE NICE, DON’T SCRATCH). When you get what you wanted (LITTLE CRACKERS?? NOT FISHIES??) find out how you can continue the relationship, and get good word of mouth (BAH, NOT FOR CRACKERS). Oh and updating your brand probably doesn’t involve changing your name (KATZILLA!)

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