Rebranding: Determining when and how to do it

After nearly 15 years in the exhibit and trade show industry, I created my company after a request for services from one of my clients. This was 25 years ago. Today, I stand at the helm of this, now, multimillion dollar enterprise. My mission is to meet all of the changing demands of exhibitors’ trade show needs in any venue. Positioned in the Washington D.C. area, I have uncovered how crucial rebranding can be for staying competitive in a market, whatever yours may be. The following three steps will guide you through that process.

1. Determine what your clients desire and how effectively you’re meeting that need

Your business exists not for you, but for who you serve. Additionally, it’s not as simple as you just providing a product or service to a customer. Ultimately, your company’s presence serves a greater need in an industry. For example, a rental car company serves their client’s need to get from point A to point B conveniently. Figure out what market desires propel your company.

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Industries change, client needs change, and many other unexpected factors change — this is why rebranding becomes necessary. The first step in determining whether this is a move you need to make is to appraise how the demand for your services has evolved. What other tools are clients using? How have their service requests or orders changed over time? How have the complementary industries developed? These questions can help you paint a picture of small but significant elements to your market that you may be missing.

In the same vein, listen to what your clients are specifically requesting. This is especially true if they have had desires for services or products that you don’t presently offer. If you haven’t encountered any new client requests, don’t be afraid to ask. “What else could we offer you that we currently don’t,” or a simple, “what would make your team’s day easier that you currently don’t have” are powerful questions for you to pose to your clientele.

Industries change, client needs change, and many other unexpected factors change — this is why rebranding becomes necessary.

2. Assess how your competitors are serving the needs of your clients

In the same vein as step one, your product or service satisfies a demand of your customers but your competitors can achieve the same objective with a different offering. For example, ride-sharing apps help people get from place to place, and consequently can serve the same need as the aforementioned rental car company. What your competition is doing is just as important as what you’re doing.

How have your competitors’ offerings changed over time? Has any specific one poached customers from you more than others? If so, what are they providing that makes customers switch? Why do your loyal clients stay with you? Ask yourself as many questions like these as you can in order to drill down into where you stand in the industry against your competition. If the industry is changing while you aren’t, it’s a strong sign that changes on your part need to be made.

3. If it is appropriate, trust your gut and adjust your brand

If after evaluating the landscape of your industry it is apparent that you need to rebrand, then do it. Do not clutch to what you have hoping it will just work itself out. For my company, our clients are getting younger. I’m not. I can’t cling to what worked 25 years ago when I started the company. That being said, you can’t forgo the instincts that made you a successful leader from the start. Throughout any process as subjective as rebranding, use your gut.

Moreover, just as important as when to rebrand is when not to rebrand. Don’t do it as a strategy to fix another unrelated internal issue. Altering how you want to be perceived in the market can be unnecessarily disruptive with happy clients.

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Ultimately, your brand should fit the needs of your clients and their respective industries. You are there to serve them. Use your clientele as the primary guide to adjusting your distinctive brand. Use your competition as a secondary guide, only to inform you of your clients’ needs. It should go without saying, but avoid becoming a facsimile of another company.

Just because your brand was effective when your business began, or even because it worked a year ago, it doesn’t mean it will work today. It’s your job as a leader to figure out how you can best service your clients. Rebranding can be a powerful tool to stay competitive in your market. Of course, this doesn’t mean changing your organization’s core values or unique identity. Exhibit Edge will always aim to provide incomparable personal service, integrity, and value for trade shows and corporate spaces, but that doesn’t rule out any necessary rebranding in order to better deliver that mission.


Bev Gray is the President and CEO of Exhibit Edge, a leader in the trade show industry. In 2004, Exhibit Edge received its Woman-Owned Certification by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, WBENC. Exhibit Edge prides itself on always moving forward and staying ahead of the curve while still maintaining exceptional customer care.