Rebranding doesn't have to be scary!

Author - Michael K. Bigos

The thought of spending more money to rebrand one's company finds most business owners in a state of panic and uncertainty.  For some time, these companies have built their reputation, notoriety and success with the product or service they conceptualized and have been growing since.  To entertain the idea of changing it brings said companies utter fear and anxiety to say the least.   The truth is - rebranding your product, service or company isn't that scary.  It's a calculated risk based in data, understanding of your audience and the idea of adding value into areas of your company where otherwise, value had been amiss. Or, where there's untapped potential for deeper connection and loyalty.


While many companies like Nike, Pepsi, Taco Bell, and Starbucks have undergone varied redesigns over the years, their ultimate brand promise has remained.  When looking to re-engage with your audience in a more refreshing or deeper way, the question remains, "how?" How do you bridge the gap between preferred products and the people who buy them?  Furthermore, how can you look to redesign or rebrand your business when you have not truly carved out a place in the market where your product is ultimately preferred over your competitors?  The answer can often be found in design

"Breathe - It's going to be okay!"  

So, if you've been contemplating the journey of rebranding or redesigning your company's 'look', congratulations!  Breathe, it's going to be okay. I've often held my ground in stating my opinion on both art and design and how these two similar yet hugely different words bring about clarity for my clients.  Art can truly be expressive with no boundaries or boxes; no constraints or red tape to hinder its masters vision. Design, however, must work as intended and accomplish a singular goal or myriad of milestones which moves people from interested to customer and onto loyal customer.  

When looking to rebrand or redesign your business, you need aligned strategy and design, not the aforementioned 'art'.  Howbeit, artists or the "artistic" have a part to play in this sandbox, there needs to be a valid reason to move away from your prior identity system. Otherwise, the demise of 'preference' wins the day. It would be utterly tragic to think of all your hard work being wasted on what you thought would be a great idea to increase margins without understanding how this 'new look' will help to accomplish that.  When looking to preference, this is often what happens. In addition, the DYI approach can leave you longing and guessing which isn't a reasonable method to start or grow a business. 

"Hello Simplicity"  

There is a way to design a beautifully aligned identity system, bring about clarity and foster more trust with your current customers as well as potentials. It's called simplicity.  Peter Rahal and Jared Smith founded Rxbar™ in 2013. Like many entrepreneurs, they had a solid product with a seemingly distinct differentiation. Like many startups, the DYI approach to their branding and package-design felt innovative in the beginning yet, like many startup businesses, while on the journey to success, felt the ugly-stick swinging it's way when they were looking to scale.

Rahal shared with Inc. Magazine, their thoughts and woes regarding "logo shrinkage, packaging noise, and graphic-design enlightenment." Stating the original design was hardly intentional, "We were 25, broke, and naive," says Rahal. "We didn't have any resources, so Jared and I designed it ourselves. We did it on PowerPoint...We took a step back and had a humbling moment," Rahal says. "We realized our baby was ugly."

In summary, Rxbar underwent a design and packaging overhaul. This new design approach highlighted their brand and product-promise, packaging color - which is correlated to their flavors, and their now infamous "No B.S." on every product which speaks to the negative space in the design, and the alternative approach of not listing all their ingredients and features on the package itself ( ie; gluten, GMOs and 'vegan').  

"The Outcome" 

It was realized, some customers thought the company was different altogether. However, their new look quickly paid off and caught the attention of new buyers and retailers. Since the redesign, Rxbar has become the number-three wellness bar at natural-food retailers, according to the Spins' list. Where on that list was Rxbar before? "Bottom of the barrel," Rahal says (Inc.).

"Birds of a Feather"  

Like unto Rxbar, Banza Pasta (chickpea-based pasta line your gluten-free friend is obsessed with) followed suit by designing their packaging with communicating various features of their product and found a comparable enlightenment.  Mainly, their claims and differentiation was visible on their packaging but barely.  Again, a common but honest mistake among startups is to visually detail all or many of the reasons they believe we should pick them.  In the end, they came to the same realization as Rxbar in that, they wanted to focus more on conveying feeling vice all the healthy reasons you should eat their brand of pasta.  In summary, they wanted to connect in a deeper way, fostering a lasting relationship with their target-audience.

Lastly, going red with their design in a sea of blue packaging sured up their ability to stand out. Their simplistic design approach allows us to focus more on what makes their pasta more suitable for us rather than how they compare to the others - because there is no visual comparison when placed next to their competition.  It just feels good!


If you're considering a redesign or rebrand, it's truly okay to have a bit of unrest. It's not something to be taken lightly, but it's surely worth the consideration. You have to be utterly realistic when looking to re-invent your identity in the marketplace. However, If you're considering, I would encourage you to think of it in these terms - do you have a Southwest Airline problem to solve or a Spotify problem? Meaning, if you embark on the redesign of your identity, how many 'things' will it have to touch?  Will it be a fleet of vehicles or airplanes? A series of marquees around town? Or, is is mostly 'swag' and digital-related areas your customers will engage with? 

Knowing which mountain you'll be climbing should ease some anxiety coupled with a viable and integrated strategy.  Money is always a point of concern due to margins and ROI, however, let's be honest - we can always make more money. It's the brand-awareness and longevity we are after; Right!? Getting it right this time around should be more intentional than before. The infamous value-proposition, KPI and MLE sound really cool when conversing around the marketing table or boardroom.  But, the conversation most often omitted is, how can we form a deeper connection with our customer using design as a medium?  

"Final Thought" 

I offer up this bias perspective...If the business owner can shift their thinking about design from a 'commodity' that isn't that important to my success - to an integral part of how they make business decisions, they'll begin to notice how significant design is to solving business problem(s).  Why?  We use design to get noticed and marketing to grow our business.  Our words playing delightfully with our pictures, sounds, and textures is how we make sense of our world.  Having this perspective can help determine associated risk(s) - and is a sure-fire way to ensure your calculated risks are worth the time and investment as you go through the process rebranding or redesigning with a qualified professional.  This itty-bitty shift in thinking and approach will save you thousands if not millions of dollars in wasted marketing spend.  Lastly, it alleviates the poison of perspective from the table and causes the goal of alignment and clarity to win the day.  #Facts 

Happy Branding!

Author - Michael K. Bigos     Founder  - Focis Branding© & Design Solutions @focisbranding