Rebranding is not just cosmetic change

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KV Sridhar, National Creative Director,  Leo Burnett

KV Sridhar, National Creative Director, Leo Burnett

When I was a kid I remember reading a story about sheep and wolves. In this story, one of the sheep, to escape from the wrath of wolves, disguised as a wolf and went along with the pack. However, on being attacked by another pack, the sheep’s act was caught as it was the first one to run away from the battle. The moral of the story is simple – real transformation does not happen by changing on the outside, it only truly occurs when you transform from your inner core.

The mechanics of rebranding in today’s world operate in a somewhat similar fashion. Rebranding consists of a complete reengineering of the brand and not just on the surface. Now take the popular examples of rebranding that are quoted these days. When Vodafone changed its color from pink to red and when Airtel last year changed its logo, people took it to be rebranding. Well, if you ask me it was just a case of changing graphics and nothing else. According to me, one of the finest instances of rebranding in India was Bajaj. When Bajaj reengineered itself from a scooter brand to a bike brand with remarkable introductions of Pulsar and DTSi technology, that was when real rebranding took place.

The Science and Art of rebranding imply changing at the core. Tomorrow an old person who has been wearing dull shirts and trousers throughout his life putting on flashy denims cannot claim to have become young. Unless he becomes mentally young he/she wouldn’t be able to stake claim on having rebranded itself.  Real rebranding consists of constantly reinventing itself. Two pertinent cases in point would be that of Canon and ITC. Canon reengineered itself from ‘scanning’ to ‘digital imagery’ unlike Kodak. Similarly, ITC transformed itself from being a tobacco company to a foods one.

The mantra of rebranding involves reinventing yourself to rededicate yourself and make you relevant to a different set of people and consumers. In today’s world superficial rebranding will not work. Just by changing graphics and logo you cannot rebrand yourself. In this age of social media and conversations just by wearing designer clothes you cannot become progressive.

Real rebranding has to come from within. Consumers today own the brand and have a much more say in their brands than they used to have before. For this you have to reengineer to your philosophy. Bajaj and Canon have the same brand names as before but have actually been pioneers of rebranding by changing their DNA. When new Bajaj was born with its new DNA then people embraced the new Bajaj and not the old one. That is rebranding in its absolute essence, in its full extent and supreme efficacy.

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