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Baking Better Rebranding Decisions

Have you ever tried to make a chocolate soufflé? If not, you’ve probably eaten one and, I’m sure you’ll agree that they are delicious. According to the recipe, it requires a modest eight ingredients. Except for maybe the vanilla bean, the ingredients are everyday baking items. The challenge is in following the instructions because if you don’t to it precisely as written, you will end up with a big blob of brown goo. You can’t skip a step or alter the approach. If you don’t have an electric mixer, don’t bother even trying.

Like a recipe for chocolate soufflé, you have to have the right ingredients and follow an established process in making rebranding decisions. The lack of current evidence that considers the various factors that impact rebranding decisions is hindering effective decision-making in many U.S. based organizations. As illustrated in phase one of the theoretical framework in post #2, the evidence-based findings from the systematic review discussed in post #3 provide the list of ingredients that assist in answering the research question What are the primary factors that influence rebranding decisions in U.S. based organizations? In this post we turn our attention to phase two, interpreting the data. Turn your attention back to post #1 if you would like the background story.

Interpreting the data

The resulting taxonomy exposes internal, other, and external factors as the primary drivers for rebranding decisions. Figure 1 is a conceptual model that illustrates the challenge and importance for U.S. based organizations in understanding how the individual taxonomy factors weigh into making rebranding decisions.

Figure 1: Conceptual model illustrating the taxonomy of primary factors that influence rebranding decisions in U.S. based organizations.

Contrary to what I thought going into this research, the evidence suggests that internal factors are weighed heavily in rebranding decisions. Knowing that the number one internal factor is organizational identity and strategy suggests that U.S. based companies are basing rebranding decisions on an important factor that may be underdeveloped. If organizational identity and strategy are not providing a firm foundation for making rebranding decisions, rebranding decisions are less likely to be successful (sound like what’s happening, right?). Furthermore, the evidence suggests that that organizational strategy can only be leveraged successfully in making rebranding decisions if stakeholders recognize and support the organizational identity. The remaining internal factors, organizational performance, rebranding costs, and reorganization add to the importance of identifying what is driving rebranding decisions in U.S. based organizations.

By no means does knowing that internal factors carry the most weight diminish the importance of the other and external factors in influencing rebranding decisions. The other factors, brand repositioning, and brand image, contributing to rebranding decisions highlights the importance of understanding the perspective of stakeholders. Although the external factors influencing rebranding decisions, competitive advantage, mergers and acquisitions, and environmental factors, collectively are not as well supported by the evidence as internal and other factors, the evidence supports their inclusion for influencing rebranding decisions within U.S. based organizations. Organizations that exhibit effective organizational identity and strategy processes are better equipped to experience competitive advantage sustainability. It is somewhat surprising to find that mergers and acquisitions (M&A’s) are not more significant factors in rebranding decisions based on the studies that are a part of this review.

What are the practical implications for U.S. based organizations?

1. Allocating adequate resources to ‘scanning’ or searching for relevant evidence-based data and interpreting the evidence in a continually changing business environment supports effective brand management strategy in making informed rebranding decisions.

2. Placing more emphasis on the internal factors (exposed in the systematic review) when considering rebranding is advantageous.

3. Learning from rebranding mistakes requires facilitating communication across stakeholders and recognizing that the process of making rebranding decisions is iterative.

The decision to proceed or reevaluate a rebranding decision is dependent on converging data results, and organizational learning theory explains the importance of gathering and interpreting data. While U.S. based organizations may have to go back to the data as many times as necessary in response to diverging data results, single and double loop learning leverages feedback from stakeholders in making better rebranding decisions. However, weighing internal factors more heavily during the decision-making process such as ensuring organizational identity and strategy align supports effective brand management strategy.


The first limitation is that there is a consensus that there is very little academic research on the topic of rebranding; however, this review mitigates this concern by adding to the discussion and calling upon other researchers to assist in this endeavor. Furthermore, this research does not consider that fact that larger organizations may be less willing or able to alter their brand management strategy. Limiting the search by including only U.S. based organizations prevents utilizing studies of companies outside the U.S. and global companies not based in the U.S. Additionally, a difference between corporate and institutional rebranding is not considered. Finally, rebranding success or failure is not included as an outcome for this study.

Future Research

Future research should include investigating why the primary factors identified in this systematic review can cause rebranding campaigns to succeed or fail. Moreover, focusing on either internal, external, or the other factors influencing rebranding decisions may uncover additional factors not considered in this analysis. Another approach would be to determine what rebranding decisions organizations make through an organizational identity lens especially when the identity of the organization is compromised. Finally, contrasting the findings through a stakeholder theoretical lens may add depth to understanding the role that internal versus external stakeholders play in rebranding management strategies.

Spoiler alert: One of these suggestions for further research topics may be forthcoming (Dissertation research starts soon, wish me luck).

In reflecting on the four posts, I encourage you to take time to appreciate the amazing beauty of butterflies, take your bike out for a spin, do some gardening, and enjoy some chocolate soufflé. We’ve come to the end of the last blog in the four-part series, but if you haven’t read the previous posts, please feel free to do so. I would love to keep the conversation going.

Links to all posts in the four-part series:

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