Over the years, hundreds of companies have rebranded themselves to keep up with their current customers and deliver a fresh take to draw in new ones. Some have done it really well (read: Dove, Old Spice, McDonald’s), while others have been criticized (read: Radio Shack’s “The Shack” and Coca-Cola’s “New Coke).

At a high level, rebranding initiatives include repositioning a brand with completely new messages, products, values, and in many cases a new identity. Obviously that sounds simplistic, but rebranding is a long, arduous process often involving boardroom battles over logos, colours, words, and my personal fave—white space.

Essentially, the success of a brand is driven by how well it’s positioned for its target market and then how that positioning is communicated. Yes, a splashy advertising campaign and creative marketing strategy are always key communication pieces for the rebranding puzzle. But you should also make sure PR is in the mix or you might end up missing out on your business objectives.

There is an endless list of ways PR can help with a rebrand, but let’s look at three that are critical:

  • Maintaining or building credibility and trust: if you are about to change a brand that the world has known for decades, people will be sceptical. PR will help by laying the groundwork before, during and after a launch with the right strategy to ensure you are communicating credible messages and continue to build the right reputation.
  • Honing in on messages that go beyond sales: of course you may think the new ads and tagline are awesome, but how does it translate into something that will maintain the trust of your current customers, and attract new ones? It’s these messages that you want your spokesperson to communicate and the media to write about. 
  • Managing potential backlash: remember the consumer uproar when the Gap launched a new logo in 2010? No doubt there was a PR team with a contingency plan in place pre-launch and working behind the scenes to nip that issue in the bud.

You can undertake the best rebrand ever, rivalling the likes of Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign circa 2004, but if you don’t marry PR with marketing, advertising and digital, your message will not have the reach it needs to motivate and inspire the masses to take note and purchase your products or services.

What do you think are some memorable rebrands? Do you think PR played an important role?