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Rebranding to rebound

So your business has taken a PR hit – a big, bad one. What next?
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When a business goes through something that results in bad PR, it takes time – sometimes quite some time – to recover and for customers to come back.

When the company is big – think Uber or United Airlines – they can likely keep pushing through until the scandal blows over. But for smaller companies, where the press for a scandal or bad decision is more PR than they ever had for the business itself, a rebrand may be the only way to stay alive.

When, for example, a diner allegedly found a rodent in her soup at a Gastown restaurant, the place had more press, awareness and impressions in a day than they had received for all the years it was open.

"As it is, more than likely that the business and brand are not surviving this,” read a post on the Crab Park Chowdery’s Instagram and Facebook pages. The business is now appealing for donations through a GoFundMe campaign.

The money raised will help balance the drop in their sales after this episode – but a great place to invest that money at this point would be in a rebrand.

A new brand is more than just a new name and logo, but a visible message to your customers that you have changed.

“Depending on the damage to the business’ reputation, the re-brand could mean a total fresh start or a shift to get them on the right track,” said Rebecca Rochon, Founder and Creative Director of Pivot & Pilot Creative.

“A rebrand is an opportunity to not only re-establish who you are as a business but who you want to be and what you want to achieve in the future and your projected image to the public.”

A rebrand with a larger business could mean a shift in product lines, marketing and influencer engagement.

For example, The J.Crew brand used to cater towards shoppers looking for bargains. In the 2000s, they rebranded as a more luxurious label with the help of Michelle Obama who helped boost J.Crew sales by wearing their clothing to political events and posing for photos.

According to Business Insider, “When Michelle Obama appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ and told Jay Leno that her yellow sweater, skirt and blouse were a ‘J.Crew ensemble,’ the company's stock shot up 8.2 percent.”

The revamped identity helped the company adapt to fill a void in the market and they very clearly communicated how their offering was different from their competition.

“In order to create a strong brand, you need to determine your ‘x-factor’ – what you are doing differently than your competitors to serve your market and who you are as a company,” said Rochon.

When a company faces a crisis or scandal, it can serve as an opportunity to look inside and see what changes need to be made.

Once that’s discovered, a rebrand can help business rebound.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]