2012, the year of rebranding: Why Kenyan companies and politicians rebranded
Various organizations and even politicians in Kenya have been undergoing a process of reforming their public image. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, National Social Security Fund, Kenya Power, British-American Investments, Wiper Democratic Movement and New Ford Kenya are some of the entities that have rebranded this year alone.
Rebranding normally includes the alteration of the name of the organization or sometimes just the logo and brand colors. There are many reasons why companies rebrand, but one thing is for sure; whether it is an overhaul or just a few minor alterations, sooner or later, there comes a time when it is inevitable to change.
Identifying the need to rebrand is the main thing you should grasp since revitalization will only happen if the move is done at the right time. To identify when to rebrand, you should first understand the reasons why companies rebrand in the first place. Here are some of the intervening factors for transforming your image:
1. Change of ownership or management
Companies normally get into a situation where they change hands from one manager or owner to another. Such significant change has to be communicated to the stakeholders, and there’s no better way to do this than by rebranding at the time of the takeover. Sometimes, it becomes a legal question that compels a new owner to come up with their own brand name and logo, especially when it splits from a conglomerate.
As it were, no matter the reason for rebranding, there’s usually a large amount of money that goes with the campaign for the purposes of marketing the new brand. A good example is India’s Bharti Airtel, which entered Kenya in April 2010 after it bought out Kuwait’s Zain.
Airtel went on to undertake a massive publicity campaign to pass on the information that the company was undergoing transformation. After rebranding, a company should engage in a media campaign to advertise the new brand while at the same time conducting a periodic evaluation to measure the impact of the campaign.
2.To shed a bad Reputation
American Billionaire, Warren Buffett is famous the world over for his quote “Lose money and I will forgive you, but lose even a shred of reputation and I will be ruthless.” He says this of the managers of his vast properties.
For one reason or another, an organization can find itself in a position contemplated by Mr. Buffett, where its hard earned reputation is eroded. A lost reputation is bad for the company’s image since it means the consumers will no longer have confidence in it.
When rebranding for the purposes of redefining the organization, it is important that the external branding changes correspondingly with the entire DNA of the organization. This is because you do not want the consumers to get the idea that you are only changing the outward appearance of the organization in order to fool them.
The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) was rendered defunct after the bungled elections of December 2007 through a reform process that saw the name changed to The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). During the rebranding, the new commission chairman Isaack Hassan attributed the rebranding to giving a new start to the electoral process in Kenya and assuring all Kenyans that the March 4th elections would be free and fair.
Kenya’s social security provider, the National Social Security Fund rebranded in September of this year when it changed from being a provident fund to a pension scheme. The company was shedding the image of a company that mismanaged the contributions from members. This identity change was signified by a new corporate logo and slogan.
3. Adapting to changing times
Political analysts in the United States have attributed Barrack Obama’s re- election to the fact that he managed to retain the support of non- white minority voters. Consequently, the Republican Party is increasingly coming under pressure to change their strategy from relying heavily on white male voters and instead try to include the minority voters in their campaign if they are to win subsequent presidential elections.
When an organization starts losing relevancy among the consumers it serves, it becomes imperative that a proactive initiative should be made towards rebranding. Consumers undergo change with every passing day owing to such dynamic factors as the economy, technology and climate change. Changing times require that the organization keeps up in order to stay relevant.
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced in January of 2009 that Apple was dropping the name “Apple Computer” in favor of a new brand name “Apple Inc.” The change was necessitated by the fact that over the years the company was transforming with an emphasis on consumer electronics despite the success of the flagship Mac computer. The ipod, Apple TV, iphone and now the ipad are some of the products that the Silicon Valley giant introduced into its portfolio in addition to the Mac.
Politicians in Kenya have been engaging in party hoping every election season for the purposes of safeguarding their interests and the interests of their electorate. In the rift valley province, the period before the 2007 general election was characterized by euphoria for the Orange Democratic Movement and most politicians from the region joined the party. In 2012, the grassroots support has shifted to United Republican Party, making many ODM allied MPs from the region defect to the new party.
4. Differentiating from the competition
The most trusted brands in Kenya are very distinct in terms of their public image. Leading Kenyan brands like Safaricom, East African Breweries, Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity bank and Barclays pride themselves in the strong customer loyalty they enjoy by delivering quality- both real and perceived. This goes for other international brands such as Mercedes Benz and Apple.
In Kenya’s politics, the rebranding of ODM-Kenya was meant to differentiate the party from ODM leading up to the March 4th Presidential elections. ODM-Kenya was rebranded to become Wiper Democratic Movement late last year. The party logo and symbol were changed from one and a half orange to an umbrella; with the words “Wiper” sporting new sky blue, earth red and white colors. According to the people behind the rebranding, the move was made to avoid confusion at the ballot since the party’s logo and name resembled their competitor, ODM.