A recent article from Forbes that’s worth reading lists 10 questions that companies should ask before beginning to rebrand.
One of the questions urges you to consider whether you’ll alienate your existing customer or client base when you undergo rebranding. This is a critical issue to think about, as you probably don’t want to weaken your relationship with people who have continued showing loyalty to you and who have developed an emotional attachment to your company.
Why might customers become alienated?
Rebranding occurs because a company is headed in a new direction. Maybe there’s been a change in leadership or in some the underlying policies or principles that govern the way you run your business. You may be reaching out to new customers, seeking to broaden your base or shift it more towards other target groups.
If existing customers feel alienated during the process, they may not only turn away from your company – they may actively turn against it, leaving negative reviews or broadcasting their dissatisfaction in other ways. Weakening your relationship with existing customers could prove too costly for your business.
Maintaining a good relationship with your existing customer or client base
What steps can you take to preserve loyalty and positive emotional associations among your current customers?
Let them know what’s going on
Your current customers will find it bewildering and possibly upsetting if they suddenly encounter a variety of changes in your company without understanding what’s going on. If you make changes to your company’s logo, the messages in your marketing campaigns, and the nature of your products or services (or the way you offer those products or services), customers will benefit from knowing what’s happening and why you’re doing this. You can reach out to them via email and social media, for example. Make sure to explain the rationale for your rebranding and, this is key, explain how it will benefit them. This increases the chances that they’ll respond to the change in a more welcoming way.
It may be possible to include your customers in a rebranding effort by working with their feedback. For example, let’s say you received feedback from customers that they want your business to be more environmentally friendly. If greater eco-friendliness is part of your new brand image, you can show your current customers that you’re responding to their needs. Even when your rebranding is aimed at reaching out to new kinds of customers, you can work off of the feedback you’ve gotten from current customers – by improving your customer service, for example, or your product delivery times.
Rebranding doesn’t have to involve a complete departure from every single one of the qualities that define you as a company. Even when you’re changing some aspects of your brand, you can still remain recognizable to existing customers by staying true to the qualities that they value in you. These can include the warm personal attention you give to customer interactions, your commitment to high-quality materials or ingredients, or the expert-level knowledge you bring to bear in your industry. Whatever new marketing efforts you launch for your company’s rebranding, try to also highlight these recognizable qualities.
When you maintain strong ties to your current customers, they can help see you through your rebranding effort and keep supporting you even as you change. Developing a strong relationship with your customers took time, careful thought, financial investment, and effort. Their loyalty and commitment to you is precious. Even if you expect new kinds of customers to do business with you, you shouldn’t be quick to neglect your existing base. Your brand’s transition will go more smoothly, with less confusion, anger, and loss of customer trust.
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