Of course, rebranding can involve a lot of work. To be as effective as possible, a rebrand may require an overhaul of all existing assets reflecting the former branding, including the brand’s old logo, website, website copy and more — perhaps even up to and including the business name. But maybe more important than all of these things, for the brand to truly flourish, a careful reexamination of its corporate strategy and ideal market position may also be needed.
Further, the importance of all of these already-critical elements can be amplified for an outdoors-oriented brand, whose consumers tend to be especially passionate about their pursuits and more strongly connected to their brands of choice than the typical consumer is. (Case in point: While you likely see bumper stickers for outdoor gear on drivers’ vehicles all the time, when’s the last time you saw a bumper sticker showing someone’s preference in shaving products, their favorite household cleaner or their bank of choice?)
We know — all of the work involved in a rebrand sounds like a major undertaking, and it’s sure to require a lot of collective thought and effort. But if all the effort leads to a better reflection of your outdoor brand, its personality and the value it provides to your consumers, it’s well worth the investment. And as one of only 24 certified brand strategists nationwide, TBA Outdoors is uniquely qualified to help your outdoor brand discover its true “WHY” and effectively align its business objectives with its brand strategy. In fact, our proprietary Convergence process is designed to do just that. (More on that later.)
So, just how do you know if your outdoor brand could use a refresh? Consider these seven indicators that your business could benefit from a rebrand:
1.Your brand lacks clarity
One of the most vital requirements of your brand is that it give consumers a clear impression of what your business is and does. If these things aren’t conveyed clearly, it can lead to confusion and, ultimately, a greatly reduced chance of conversion (or even initial investigation by the consumer). Because let’s face it — if outdoor consumers don’t understand your outdoor brand, most will simply walk (or turn, scroll, click, etc.) away without ever considering the purchase of your product or service. If your brand’s assets leave potential consumers scratching their heads, it’s time to consider an update that conveys what your outdoor brand is and does in a clear, concise way.
Pro marketer tip
The best way to ensure that consumers “get” your branding is user testing/surveys. Before deciding on a final logo, for example, ask a study group to review it and share their initial thoughts on it. If the answers aren’t hitting the mark regarding the products and/or services you actually offer, it’s likely best that you take another route.
Further, brand clarity is an important part of developing a strong relationship with consumers — especially with consumers as passionate about their pursuits as outdoors enthusiasts tend to be. To become paying customers, consumers must first understand your brand’s meaning. As part of our Convergence process at TBA Outdoors, we evaluate the current state of your brand, seeking out outdoors-oriented consumers’ perspectives based on their behaviors, motivations, and experiences to develop a brand strategy that will help you thrive.
2. Your brand needs more differentiation
It’s not uncommon for different businesses in the same segment of outdoor industry to share common branding characteristics. After all, when an outdoor company’s main undertaking is, let’s say, selling fishing lures, when it comes to branding, the business has essentially the same waters of creative possibilities to pull from as another business that’s selling lures. Business names that include “Bass,” “Strike,” “Lure” and the like are bound to be common in the industry segment. And that’s OK, as these businesses want the fishing enthusiast to be able to easily recognize what they do (see the “clarity” entry above). But if your lure company’s name and branding become hard to distinguish from those of its competitors, you may want to consider a rebrand.
Of course, differentiation goes beyond a brand’s name. To truly set itself apart from the competition, a business’s entire brand strategy should be uniquely geared toward communicating its strengths and its Unique Value Propositions (UVPs) — the things it provides to its consumers that the competition can’t or simply doesn’t.
At TBA Outdoors, our Convergence process gathers input from all of an outdoor company’s key stakeholders to develop a strong list of facts, critical concepts, product/service benefits, consumer motivations, and more — ultimately leading to the development of three to five UVPs that, moving forward, will serve as the basis for the outdoor brand and its marketing.
Pro marketer tip
The need to differentiate from competitors, of course, applies at the highest levels like names and logos, where it’s essential to stand apart from your competition — but it’s also important at less prominent levels of your branding. For example, be careful to consider the art used in your outdoor brand’s marketing materials. If stock fishing photography, for example, is used in your advertisements, etc., it could negatively impact your brand if a competitor uses the same photos of the same angler catching the same fish in their marketing materials. Using professional photography taken just for your fishing brand, alternatively, puts a spotlight on your unique business and helps set it apart from the competition.
3. Your business has evolved, but your brand hasn’t
It’s not uncommon — and sometimes it’s even critical to success and survival — for an outdoor-oriented business to expand its offerings or target new markets over time. Maybe your original list of products and/or services has evolved in response to changes in demand from outdoor consumers. Or perhaps new developments related to your offerings — or, more broadly, to the market or even the global environment — have brought about a pivot in your business strategy. Whatever the reason for the business shift, if your branding no longer accurately reflects your offerings, it may be time for a rebrand — or, at the very least, an update to your existing branding to reflect the new realities of your business.
Making it clear to consumers what your brand stands for is now more important than ever. It seems that most brands concentrate on their products, features and benefits — which is great! But what means the most to consumers is that connection factor — consumers want to know that you understand them and get it.
4. You’re targeting a new demographic
To foster company growth, outdoor-oriented businesses must sometimes target new consumers. Perhaps you originally had an older demographic in mind, but have come to realize that your products and/or services could be the perfect fit for a younger generation of hunters or even hunting families. Or — as seen fairly commonly in recent years in the outdoor industry — maybe you’ve found that your offerings are particularly resonant with women who love the outdoors — and the demographic you originally had in mind was the male hunter, fisherman or boater. Whatever the newfound demographic for your brand might be, it might be worth considering a rebrand that takes this added audience into consideration and is geared toward more effectively resonating with its members, especially if your original branding didn’t necessarily play to this group of consumers.
Pro marketer tip
Especially in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, outdoors-oriented businesses have a unique opportunity to capitalize on a changing business environment and an all-new group of potential customers. Because activities requiring social distancing are a necessary requirement of the times, more and more consumers are looking to get outdoors than ever before — and many of them are buying hunting gear, boats, and other outdoor products that they may have never been in the market for before. Be sure to consider this new pool of potential consumers with your marketing efforts, whether you’re engaging in a rebrand or not.
5. You’re losing your competitive edge
If your company has seen competitors gradually cutting into its market share, the root of the problem likely runs deeper than your branding. This is a sign that your outdoor business might need to do a thorough self-examination to identify why competitors are gaining ground — and why your business is losing it. Part of the remedy, though, just might be a successful rebrand, especially if competitors have taken an advantage in marketing their offerings and their branding clearly outshines that of your company’s.
6. You’ve merged or changed ownership
A merger or acquisition doesn’t always necessitate a rebranding — especially if the company whose name will take the helm moving forward has a great reputation, and strong branding is already in place. Often, though, a merger or change in ownership presents an opportunity to create something new and special, and any new personnel or leadership that’s brought in with the changes can offer new eyes and insights for a rebranding effort.
When a rebranding is called for, our Convergence process at TBA Outdoors can help an evolving outdoor brand clearly understand the equity shifts created by a merger/acquisition, in addition to helping identify any potential concerns the changes may create among outdoor-oriented consumers. Further, the insights gained can help the brand clearly define to target audiences just who/what the new company persona is.
7. Your old branding is outdated/has lost its sizzle
Maybe that font you used for your original branding was the perfect fit for the era in which your company was founded, and the color palette you used for your logo was highly popular at the time. But times and popular opinions change, especially in some segments of the outdoors industry, and just like those paper maps that modern-day hunters and anglers are ditching and replacing with GPS technology to find their way to that remote hunting plot or that spot where all the redfish are biting, your branding could use a refresh to bring it up to date. If elements of your brand are making your marketing efforts and creative assets look outdated, it may be time to consider a rebrand.
The key here is ensuring that the updated brand resonates with target audiences — an undertaking that can be greatly informed by the research conducted during the Convergence process at TBA Outdoors. Consumers — and outdoor consumers especially — want a relationship/connection with the outdoor brands they choose to buy, necessitating that an outdoor brand continually evaluate just who it is and how outdoors enthusiasts are perceiving it — which research can uncover. So, stop making assumptions about your customers, your products and the market. Get the facts!
Further, with all the changes in this world due to COVID-19 — especially in consumer behavior — you have to ask yourself: What is the market perception of our outdoor brand? Are we really focused on what makes our brand different and stand out from the competition? If there is any time to invest in research and brand development, now is the time!
6 tips for rebranding success
So you’ve decided the time is right for a rebrand, but you’re not sure just how to get started or what direction you should take things in. Be sure to keep these tips in mind as you move forward with creating your new and improved outdoor brand:
1. Don’t miss the forest for the trees
The ultimate goal of your rebrand is to shine a light on what makes your outdoor company unique and special, and this usually starts with its core mission and values. Make sure you’re keeping these things in mind as you move forward so your new branding will accurately reflect who you are as a company and why you do what you do.
2. Use your current brand as a starting point
Especially if your outdoors-oriented company has been in business for a long time and has worked hard to earn and maintain a positive reputation among outdoors enthusiasts, you might want to retain some of the original brand elements that your customers have come to know and recognize — and that still provide an accurate reflection of who you are as a company. Keeping at least some elements of your brand consistent and identifiable will help to reinforce the position you’ve earned in the outdoor marketplace, along with helping to retain the perceived value of your offerings. Alternatively, a rebranding that’s wholly inconsistent with your company’s former identity could lead to confusion and mistrust among consumers.
3. Keep an eye on the market/your competition
Before you dive too deep into your rebrand, take some time to research your competitors, what they’re doing, and how your company can differentiate itself. By doing your due diligence, you’ll be able to identify the things that make your outdoor company unique and shine a light on the value that you can deliver … and that others can’t.
4. Make it a team effort
Your employees are invested in your company’s success, and they probably know better than anyone what your outdoor company is all about and what makes it special. Consider opening the brainstorming efforts around your rebranding to all of your workforce — your employees will appreciate having their voices heard, and you might get some of your best insights and ideas from departments and people you might not expect. Further, be sure to get input from your consumer audiences — and especially loyal customers — as they have a stake in your rebranding, too.
5. Don’t rush, but keep your efforts on track
Create a game plan going into your rebrand, complete with deadlines and to-dos for the prominent players involved. A rebrand can be a complicated process that requires a great deal of time and effort — and it’s easily side-tracked and even abandoned without careful planning and proper management. Along the way, be sure to follow a clearly defined strategy so that all of your efforts are working toward common strategic goals — which our Convergence process can help your outdoor brand map out.
6. Launch your new brand strategically
Once you’ve completed your rebrand, it’s important to get it out there and shine a light on it. Make plans to publicize your rebranding on all of your social and earned media channels, and be ready to explain why you chose to embark upon the rebrand in the first place. Further, find a way to let your customers know what any new elements of your brand might represent. Telling the story behind your rebrand and the efforts that went into it will help your outdoor company gain some welcome publicity at a time of company change, and informing your customers about the thoughts and reasoning behind your company’s new look will help to eliminate any potential for confusion.
Finally, once the rebranding process is complete, the Convergence process stresses the importance of making the changes sink in with “enculturation,” which ensures that the brand is incorporated into every aspect of the organization, that each employee understands his or her role in the new brand, and that the UVPs are strategically used to advance the brand.
Could your outdoor-oriented business use expert help with a rebrand that hits the mark with your target audience of outdoors enthusiasts? And beyond rebranding, would the deeper-dive Convergence process help your company to develop a single-minded platform from which your brand can flourish?
At TBA Outdoors, our fully integrated marketing firm boasts a team of seasoned specialists (and outdoors fanatics) who can cover rebranding and much more — including web design, brand strategy, creative, interactive, social media, analytics, conversion rate optimization and SEO — all in one place. And as certified brand strategists, we can help you with the macro-level business evaluation and focus shifts that are sometimes needed put your outdoor brand on a course to success.
To get started with professional assistance ranging from a simple brand analysis to a comprehensive, Convergence-guided strategy tailored to boost your outdoor brand’s overall performance and identity, contact us today.