Most companies undertake a rebranding when strategies change, product lines are revamped or as a natural part of a company’s evolution. Some are forced to do so when consumer trust in a brand plummets.
The most recent announcement of a rebrand in an attempt to rebuild trust is Malaysia Airlines. The airline announced in July that it was planning “a major overhaul” to include rebranding itself after two air disasters in just five months. Despite one of the best safety records in the industry, 2014 has left many consumers with more questions about the airline than answers.
Will the rebrand work? For other airlines it has, most notably for AirTran, formerly ValuJet. When ValuJet’s new brand was announced, it had the requisite new name, logo and tag line but also enhanced business services.
What will be important for Malaysia Airlines is to stress how the operation of the airline has changed and to avoid an overly stylized rebranding. Those changes must be tangible enough to be experienced by consumers for it to seem “real”. Malaysia Airlines may have been the victim of circumstance, making it challenging to identify which changes in operations they can control that will directly restore consumer confidence in the brand.
If you are considering a rebranding to rebuild trust, here are some points to consider before you start:
Be honest about what has changed and reflect that in your new brand. Surface changes alone will not erase the past and may even create a negative response among consumers.
Lower expectations. Don’t expect the public to improve their trust overnight. It will take concerted effort and messaging over several years to repair the damage. Think BP.
Timing is important. Rebranding too soon after a disaster will seem disingenuous. Too late and it will seem like a last-ditch effort. Benchmark consumer perception over time to determine when to rebrand and how successful your efforts are.
Be clear on how your brand is better than before. Whether its changing business practices, processes and ensuring safety, explain how it is better.
Remember your loyalty base and start there. The rush is usually to repair the brand damage with the public-at-large first; however, it’s often times wiser to start with your loyal base and fan out from there.