The Importance of Effective Brand Transformation

If there is a disconnect between your company and your intended audience, it may be time to transform you brand and improve your performance in the market.

One day, it becomes apparent to you that a weak brand is undermining your business’s efforts, and that you need to rethink and overhaul it. You’re not doing a Full Monty and going all the way in a full rebrand, including scrapping your cherished name, but you need to do more than just refreshing it by tweaking your old, tired logo. This is what we call brand transformation.

The transformation process involves identifying intangibles about your brand and bringing them to life so that your brand resonates for your intended target audience. When done right, a successful brand transformation can serve as a catalyst that more effectively connects your business to your customers and your market, and this will translate to better results.

Do we need a brand transformation?

Sometimes it’s obvious when you need to initiate a transformation, for example when you can’t make headway against a competitor despite having a better product. However, other times sales are going okay, so no need to make a change, right? Not so fast. Imagine what your company could accomplish if lackluster branding wasn’t holding back your sales.

Too often, companies trivialize good branding and are content to conduct business as usual. Alternatively, they view it as too expensive to undertake, or they have no idea how to go about transforming their brand. Whatever the case may be, understand this — having an on-target brand is critical to your long-term growth and overall success. If your branding is no longer a right fit, it can cause your business to underperform and fail to reach its full potential in the marketplace.

When done correctly, it can be transformational (I guess that’s why we call a transformation, right?). Take the example of men’s fashion brand David Donahue. Early on, they had good sales of accessories (tie bars, bowties, cummerbunds, etc.) in Nordstrom, their largest customer, but the upscale retailer told them while they had a label, what they needed to become was a brand with meaning if they wanted to grow. Brand specialists Boltgroup stepped in and worked with David Donahue to transform it into a true lifestyle brand projecting a masculine style that is the “ultimate in sophisticated self-expression.” On-point branding exuding taste, style, and expression helped David Donahue expand beyond accessories into menswear and sportswear, and it is now one of Nordstrom’s top-selling brands.

David Donahue brand transformation
David Donahue Case Study

Begin the transformation

If your brand doesn’t hold distinct positions with your internal and external audiences, it might be time to consider a brand transformation. There are several reasons it might become a necessity; for example, you may need to update your brand to:

  • Launch or spin out a new product
  • Counteract negative impressions about your products or services
  • Break into more substantial or more sophisticated client tiers
  • Enter new verticals or markets

An effective brand transformation will help your marketing effort to hit on all cylinders. However, transforming your brand involves more than swapping out your old logo. While a logo redesign may be a part of the overall process, transformation needs to be far more fundamental and encompassing. It involves discovering the essential truths of your brand, and redefining your brand positioning to incorporate the character of the company and the value of your employees.

So, how do you go about it? An excellent place to start is to look at your company’s mission and vision statements to capture a sense of the spirit of innovation that brought the business into existence. What eureka moment does that invoke? Think about the problems you are solving and for whom. What needs are you meeting?

Discover your brand personality

A critical part of your transformation involves identifying what kind of personality you want your brand to project. How do you want your brand persona to come across to the public? You may need to revise your brand manifesto (or create one). Your voice and tone are going to reflect this – are you hip and fearless and challenging a young audience to seize every opportunity or are you the trusted purveyor of luxury and quality for a select clientele? Is there a visceral feeling your customers should experience when they think of your brand? This is your chance to differentiate your company in a crowded market. You need to be more than just a logo selling a product among a sea of similar products because if you’re not, you are eminently interchangeable. Exchanging a nondescript persona with one that resonates with the intended audience will not only catch the audience’s eye, but it can help build brand loyalty as well as boost your business’s sales.

Discover your true audience

Your target audience is obviously those who are using your product, right? Not so fast.

Probably one of the most successful examples to come to mind must be Old Spice. Now a popular deodorant and body wash brand, Old Spice had to undergo a much-needed transformation. For decades, it focused on being the scent of masculine men, and it did well, but eventually, younger people began associating the classic smell of Old Spice with older, grandfatherly men. Old Spice couldn’t shake its old school image, and its new products failed to gain traction against hip competitor AXE which had dominated the coveted 15 to 25-year-old male demographic through its edgy advertising. Top agency Wieden+Kennedy came in to turn things around for Old Spice.

Discovering that women bought 60% of men’s body washes told Wieden+Kennedy that Old Spice needed to transform its personality to appeal to a new demographic. What came next was one of the most surprisingly effective transformations ever, which completely reinvigorated the brand. Old Spice launched its wildly successful The Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign that led to sales increasing by 125% and Old Spice becoming the number 1 brand for men’s body wash. In the ensuing years, Old Spice has continued to successfully market men’s body wash to women, most recently with its She Noses campaign.

Are you satisfied with your sales results?

If not, it might be time to up your game and consider a brand transformation. Deciding to change direction is not always easy, but your marketing numbers will help you know when it’s time to call in a professional.

Looking for a professional to help with your brand transformation? Read our guide on how to hire a marketing agency.

About the author


Although born in the United Kingdom, Sean moved to Arizona when he was ten-years-old and [...]