About the author
Jill Melchionda is an advisor for Norwest and specializes in partnering with B2B companies to harness brand as a competitive advantage. She often serves as a “chief of Staff to CMOs” supporting strategic and high-profile initiatives, where strategy, creativity, and orchestrated alignment are paramount to success. With decades of experience working in partnership with both high-growth and established brands, Jill brings a strategic vision to brand activation, collaborating with internal teams, and connecting with the right resources to elevate the brand and establish the foundation for sustained growth and market dominance.
Today, nearly every marketer is navigating the challenge of “doing more with less.” This strategic trimming of budgets often delays investments in brand initiatives, ranging from full reinvention to activation campaigns. Ironically these moments — when belts tighten and brand initiatives are relegated to the back burner — are the times we see brand emerge as a potent, competitive advantage.
Brand-building remains essential, and companies that prioritize brand relevance and credibility create a competitive advantage that can help command higher prices, enhance customer loyalty, and pave the way for future growth. And for B2B companies that get positioning and brand right, there’s an even greater competitive advantage. Business buyers have a deeper emotional connection to B2B brands and according to Forrester, 71 percent of business buyers are willing to pay a premium for products and services from brands they trust.
In my decade working as an agency partner to B2B companies across stages and sectors, and now a brand advisor for Norwest, I’m often asked “When is the right time to invest in a rebrand?” Although every company and market situation is different, I’ll share some indications that the time has come.
1) Patchwork Quilt Syndrome: Your Brand is Fragmented, Disconnected, and Mismatched
Perhaps you started with clarity around your brand platform, but over time — possibly due to speed-to-market, changes in direction, or leadership — things have become muddled and misaligned. Or, in other words, a hot mess. Beyond the internal challenges and unnecessary cycles this causes, it signals weakness to your competitors and chaos to customers and prospects.
Here are a few signs this may be the case for your brand:
- It lacks a clearly defined foundation (no cohesive positioning and/or a contradictory messaging framework creating disjointed or random communications)
- Your teams create and develop content and assets based on short-term needs and guesswork instead of long-term considerations supported by company strategy and agreed direction
- Your website, content, and assets reflect different flavors or versions of the brand identity (logo, color palette, icon, and image styles)
- You have limited or non-existent brand assets or foundational guidelines
2) Crossroads Ahead: Product Pivots, Market Shifts, Mergers
Finding yourself at a crossroads is inevitable in the always-evolving world of B2B. It’s a question of when, not if. These transformative moments in time – whether it’s a strategic pivot, a market-altering product expansion, or a seismic shift in the competitive landscape – are, by far, the most common triggers for brand evolution. While your existing brand may have served you well, this fork in the road before you becomes an opportunity to harness the power of brand reinvention or repositioning to tell a new story and capture the attention of future customers.
The 2022 repositioning and rebranding of Payscale, the industry leader in compensation management, serves as an example of brand evolution driven by a strategic shift in the business model. Payscale partnered with B2B specialists Firebrick (a positioning agency) and April Six (a brand/web agency) to develop new corporate positioning, and a reimagined brand and website. Payscale’s “Adaptive Compensation Advantage” tagline captures how organizations can gain a leg up on the competition by addressing pressing concerns like pay equity and serve as a unifying foundation both internally and with core audiences. To bring this to life across all marketing touchpoints, the brand was anchored in the concept of “Pay is a powerful thing.” This guiding idea fueled the redesign of PayScale’s brand identity, incorporating empowering visual elements and a fresh web experience built for B2B engagement and conversion.
Still unsure if the time is right for a brand evolution? Here are a few inflection points that often signal your brand is ready to evolve:
- Your company’s product positioning (or product range) is changing
- The competitive environment or category is undergoing significant shifts
- You’re considering a name change
- Your company is on the brink of a substantial shift in internal culture
- A merger or acquisition is in progress
- There has been a significant transformation in your strategic vision
3) Your Brand Lacks Coherency and Harmony
The old-school mantra for good branding was consistency. In modern marketing, brand coherency matters more. Admittedly, coherency and consistency are closely related but consistency can be a trap: repeating the same thing over and over can lead to a rigid system that feels flat and uninspired. As John Grant writes in his Brand Innovation Manifesto, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” A coherent brand harmonizes messaging, design, and emotional tone with the brand’s ideology and ethos. A coherent brand ensures you’re positioned to create powerful on-brand campaigns or activations quickly and opportunistically.
Signs that your brand is lacking in this area:
- Disjointed experiences across channels (web, social, product experience, digital assets)
- Inability of your brand voice to harmonize with your visual identity
- Disconnection between your vision and the realities of your culture
- Unsystematic or cookie-cutter use of brand elements
4. Your Business Has Matured and It’s Time to Shed the Starter Skin
Time affects all brands. As you consider your brand, is yesterday’s brand story not quite right for today’s audience? Perhaps you’ve undergone growth and expansion or you’re experiencing new opportunities. Such an evolution can propel your business forward, but it may also mean it’s time to revisit your positioning and brand story.
In the case of Prevedere, a Norwest portfolio company, their brand reinvention was essential to resonate with enterprise buyers and helped the company punch above its weight. With thought leadership core to their inbound strategy, a breakthrough visual identity enabled Prevedere to quickly create bespoke content pieces specifically relevant to their various segments, ensuring a coherent experience that is easily adapted for new initiatives and delivered across channels.
Signs your business may have matured beyond its existing brand:
- The brand represents your current state but not your future aspiration
- You’ve refined your positioning, but it isn’t reflected through your brand
- You see an opportunity to level up the space you occupy, but your existing brand is holding you back
A brand refresh is not only an investment in your company’s future, it’s a transformative opportunity to revitalize and position it for success. Could this be the right moment for your brand to evolve?