To rebrand or not to rebrand?

by | Jun 22, 2021 | Branding

Changing a company name or updating the brand is typically done when an organization is going through a significant shift. The company may have sold. The market may have changed, causing the company to evolve its product or service offering.  A reputation problem may have prioritized a change in the company name. While all of these are great reasons, they were not the cause of the rebrand of Harrison Creative Group.

I considered the repercussions that could occur after rebranding – many of the same reservations that companies have before rebranding.

·      Would I lose the brand recognition that I’ve built?

·      Would I choose the right name for my business?

I considered these challenges as I set forth on my rebranding journey. I’m addressing these concerns and how I combatted any potential negative consequences to rebranding in this article.

Would I lose the brand recognition that I’ve built?

Losing brand recognition is one of the most common concerns for businesses with a long, tenured history. If you’ve spent ten or more years building your brand and have a significant market share, it is understandable to be concerned about losing brand recognition. But it shouldn’t stop you from moving forward.

Companies change names as they evolve. Some company changes are subtle, and others are much more noticeable. Did you notice any of these major brands that have changed their names?

  • Dunkin’ Donuts is now Dunkin’
  • Starbucks Coffee is now Starbucks
  • Wal-Mart is now Walmart
  • Restoration Hardware is now R.H.

Brands that successfully change their name do so by communicating the reason and timing for the brand update. Strategic communications like press release announcements help convey the right message to control the narrative in public.  Frequently, rebranding can improve business, as it did for R.H.

The key to banking all that brand equity that has been built over the years is to communicate clearly and precisely the reasons for the rebrand, why your customers should care, or how this name change will make their lives better.

In the case of Harrison Creative Group to Heart & Hustle brands, we have experienced four years of growth, for which I’m very proud. However, I don’t consider four years a significant length of time. While brand equity was a slight concern, I was confident in my decision and ability to communicate our rebranding purpose to our core customers.

Would I choose the right name?

Changing my company name was a consideration for quite a while because of the nature of my agency’s purpose to help others rebrand. My first rebranding project was more than 12 years ago when I led the name change of an equipment dealership as the V.P. of Marketing for the company. The founder was a prominent local businessman and philanthropist who was a self-made success story. His character and reputation were beyond reproach, and I recommended changing the lengthy company name to his family name. But he was hesitant to put his name on the company.  His late father told him as a boy to ‘never embarrass the family name.’ After months of research, including focus groups and surveys with customers and key stakeholders that validated our hypothesis, we convinced A.D. “Sandy” MacKinnon to consider changing to the family name. In 2012, we rebranded Yale Lift Trucks of Florida and South Georgia to MacKinnon Equipment. A few short years later, MacKinnon sold the business to a larger equipment group for a healthy multiple. 

I tell you all of that to say that having my last name on the business was a heavy consideration. Every client interaction I have reminds me of MacKinnon’s story. As the founder, I wanted to be sure that any change that I made to my company reflected my values and communicated our unique purpose. “Heart & Hustle” conveys my commitment to and respect for my clients ‘hard work and grit in building their business. I feel that this new name is a strong representation of my values. I also underwent the same branding workshop that I take new clients through to know their customer profiles, goals, and unique value.

Brands that have failed to communicate their rebranding purpose properly have not gotten their customers excited about the new name. One example is Weight Watchers’ rebrand to a trimmed-down W.W. While the name W.W. is slimmer and fits its company purpose, the name change proved to be too vague for customers to champion the rebrand and was considered a failure.

Weight Watchers New Logo

So, why did I change my company name?

I decided to change the company name from Harrison Creative Group to Heart & Hustle Brands late last year after reflecting on the portfolio of work I’ve done over the years. I wasn’t having a mid-life crisis, although I’m approaching middle-age. I wasn’t running away from a reputation problem or selling my business. The reason I chose to rebrand is that I wanted to walk in the shoes of my clients.

Harrison creative group is now Heart Hustle Brands

I’ve helped several companies in various industries transform their brand.  My goal of the rebrand is to fully understand the gravity of what it means to reshape my business with a rebranding. What better way to understand my customers than to experience their challenges?

Do you have questions or concerns about rebranding? Let’s chat.

Stacey Harrison

About the Author

Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.