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How to Rebrand Your Business

rebrand-biz.jpgLast week, AIG CEO Edward Liddy told Capitol Hill, "I think the AIG name is so thoroughly wounded and disgraced that we're probably going to have to change it." Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) added that AIG now stands for "arrogance, incompetence and greed."

There's an important branding lesson to be learned here--namely, if you've screwed up royally, changing your name and rebranding your business is a good idea. Just make sure you can back up your new name with a better business strategy. In the current crisis, business owners are changing the way they run their businesses. But many after revamping their strategy, forget to translate that into their marketing materials.

"That'll raise questions about the company," says Robert Cline, owner of graphic design and branding studio CLINE&CO. Mixed messages can confuse your customers and even cheapen your brand. That's why it's important to create a strategy, and then stick to that strategy in your branding efforts.

While branding looks simple enough--some clip art here, a splash of color there--the root of successful branding is actually more complex. The internet, for one, has complicated things. Instead of a one-way conversation, "a business's promotional efforts are now a dialogue between business and customer," Cline says. That means your brand is constantly changing.

Websites like Yelp mean your brand changes with every review, which can be beneficial, or it can be extremely damaging. "These days, you post anything on the internet. Customers that have had a bad or good experience are gonna let the world know about it."

Since word-of-mouth may backfire, the best way to keep your brand polished is to have integrity in your business practices. Cline says that will prevail over any of the gripe you get on the internet, or otherwise. "If you run your business with integrity, it's going to show."

Remember, the flashiest logo and all the marketing materials in the world can't save a business that doesn't have fundamentally strong values. And for AIG, which is now AIU, a quick-fix, one-letter change doesn't omit the bonus scandal or where the $170 billion bailout money goes--but at least it's a step in the right direction.

--Jessica Chen

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