What Is Brand Repositioning? (Strategy Processes + Best Examples)

Brands are built with the purpose of making a business more memorable and appealing to a given audience.

They achieve this by identifying a unique point of difference and communicating that difference through an offer and a message that resonates with that audience.

This is brand positioning 101.

But what if the brand doesn’t achieve it?

What if it doesn’t resonate with the audience?


Or what if changes in market conditions throw up challenges or opportunities?

In this article, you’ll learn what brand repositioning is, why it’s important and how brand strategists and managers can use it to reinvigorate an ineffective brand. 

Brands are built with the purpose of making a business more memorable and appealing to a given audience.

They achieve this by identifying a unique point of difference and communicating that difference through an offer and a message that resonates with that audience.

This is brand positioning 101.

But what if the brand doesn’t achieve it?

What if it doesn’t resonate with the audience?


Or what if changes in market conditions throw up challenges or opportunities?

In this article, you’ll learn what brand repositioning is, why it’s important and how brand strategists and managers can use it to reinvigorate an ineffective brand. 

What Is Repositioning? (A Definition)

Repositioning in marketing is the process a brand goes through to adjust or overhaul its perception in the market to better appeal to its target audience.

There are many reasons a brand’s leadership team may decide on a strategic change (which we’ll dive into a little later), though ultimately the goal is the same…

The purpose of brand repositioning is, quite simply, to reposition the brand in the mind of the audience so they see the brand and its offering as a more viable option.

Or to put it another way, to change how the market perceives the brand.

Why Reposition A Brand?

There are many reasons a brand’s leadership team might decide on a rebrand.

More often than not, rebrands are reactionary and happen as a result of lower than expected results which could mean low brand awareness, low market share, low sales and low revenue.

But rebrands are not always a strategic decision based on poor performance.

Quite often rebrands happen as a result of good performance and subsequent opportunities to grow and expand into bigger markets.

The Mailchimp rebrand is a great example of this (which I’ll touch on a little later).

Let’s take a look at some common reasons for repositioning.

Evolving Markets

Markets aren’t static.

They’re made up of people so by nature, they’re always changing and evolving.

What’s important to consumers today may not be as important tomorrow or may be twice as important.

Whether it’s a change in demand a change in knowledge or a change in society or any other countless ways people change, markets aren’t a place for static entities.

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Change In Target Audience

As businesses grow, so do their capacity to help more of the same people or more people in general.

What works at a brand level in appealing to one specific market segment may not work when appealing to a broader market made up of multiple segments.

Segments are simply groups of people so if a brand’s plan is to expand, they may need to consider their position to have broader appeal across a broader market.

Brands that want to go after a broader or a completely different target audience, may need to consider whether their existing position will cut the mustard.

Change or Growth In Product Portfolio

Positioning happens at both a brand and a product level.

Product positioning happens less frequently than brand positioning because products rarely change and intended purpose for an intended audience.

That said, as new products are introduced and the portfolio of products grows, brand repositioning may be required if the portfolio expands out of alignment with the brand’s original position.

Signal A New Approach & Era

Heritage brands with decades or even centuries of brand equity may need to refresh their position over time to adapt to the changing landscape.

Like a crab shedding it’s skin, some brands will go through a transformation to signal the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one, often with an adjustment to how it wants to be seen in the market. 

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Advantages Of Repositioning

The cost of repositioning can vary dramatically depending on the branding agency or service provider being used but there are many advantages to brand repositioning if the strategy is warranted.

Advantage #1:
Refocused Target Audience

The repositioning process, much like the positioning process, requires an in-depth analysis of the target audience.

By identifying the segments that make up the market, then zeroing in on the target segments of choice, the leadership team can drill down into the detail of their audience including their goals, challenges, fears and desires.

This level of laser focused targeting enhances the brand’s ability to connect with their audiences’ needs.

Advantage #2:
Enhanced Competitive Advantage

A positioning strategy that considers more up-to-date market conditions and a better understanding of the competitive landscape should, by virtue of its purpose, provide a more enhanced competitive advantage.

Whether the advantage highlights the outcome, the benefits, the meaning or the big idea, the way the advantage is delivered through the brand’s messaging should strengthen the brand’s perceived edge

Advantage #3:
A Fresh Perception

A brand repositioning exercise might have little or nothing to do with the product or service offering.

In this case, the repositioning strategy is built around a better way to convey the value of the brand and it’s products to the audience.

But many of the world’s most successful brands have completely reinvigorated the trajectory of the brand with little more than creating a fresh perception in the market.

Disadvantages Of Repositioning

Although there are many advantages to brand repositioning, it doesn’t mean it’s the best approach for every brand considering a change.

In fact, there are some disadvantages of repositioning you should be aware of.

Disadvantage #1:
Repositioning Can Be Expensive

A brands position in the market is shaped by the brands perception which ultimately stems from the brand experience.

Throughout a given brand, there may be upwards of 100 touchpoints which can include:

Website

Social Channels

Physical Store

Printed Collateral

Packaging

Traditional Ads

Digital Ads

Vehicle Fleets

Distribution Channels

This cost only represents the visual and verbal adjustment on the front lines of the brand though there is also lost investment on any equity built up over time.

Disadvantage #3:
Alienating Existing Customers