Is it time to rebrand your business?

April 16th, 2019

Allie Mounce

Sr. Art Director

Man changing clothes and hair styles

Is it time to change your look, or should you stick to your current wardrobe?

When you first started your business, your had a vision. You knew what made your business unique, and how to tell your story to your audience. You (hopefully!) sought out the right people to help you realize your vision and build your brand, and you launched with much excitement and aplomb. But now, years later your brand is starting to feel like a can of coke left open on the counter too long. You're not excited to give out your business card, and looking at your website makes you cringe. The new-brand excitement is long gone, and it's beginning to feel like the solution to all of your problems is a fresh start. A new coat of paint will recapture your lost momentum, draw attention, and put the pep back in your step, right? 

First though, let's make sure we're on the same page about what a brand is. A brand is made of many components - a name, a personality, a visual style, a reputation. A brand is everything that a person thinks of when they hear your brand's name. When you hear "Coca Cola", you probably think of: red (visual identity), bubbly soda (product), giant multinational corporation (reputation), "I'd like to give the world a coke" (personality) etc. Many people think a "brand" refers only to a logo or visual identity, but it's actually the perception of your product or business as a whole. 

So what does rebranding mean?

Rebranding means changing the perception of your business. This can be accomplished by something as small as updating the language you use or as big as completely changing the way your brand looks and feels. 

 

Here are some scenarios where a rebrand is the right move for your business:

 

You've changed, significantly.

Businesses are like people - they're born, the grow, they go through a death metal phase, they realize they need a job, they cut their hair and sit in a cubicle until they die, etc. As your business has grown since you launched it, it's very possible that the demographics and industry trends surrounding it have changed, or that you've pivoted to focus on an entirely new audience than where you started. If that sounds like you, it's time to examine whether your current messaging and name still accurately represent who you are now.

You've outgrown your original brand.

Like your high school jeans, sometimes your original identity can become too constricting. Whether you have a region-specific name and are looking to expand into a national brand, or your services and products have expanded beyond your original scope, expansion can provide the perfect opportunity to adjust your positioning to reflect your company's future ambitions.

Your logo is too trendy, or is mullet-level dated.

What seemed like a cutting edge trend when you first started is now so ubiquitous that you can't throw a rock without hitting five other businesses that look and sound just like yours. (Remember when these were all the rage?) What's worse, having an uber-trendy logo or name either already has or will eventually date your company in unflattering ways. None of us are totally immune to trends, and sometimes we misjudge how influential and long-lasting a trend will be. If you've inadvertently been swept up in a trend tsunami, now is a great time to dive deep and create a new brand that speaks to your unique voice - not the latest fad.

You didn't invest in design when you started.

Hiring your cousin's former roommate to design your logo was not the forever solution your business needed, and that's fine. You've had a while to find your legs as a business, streamline your services, rake in consistent revenue, and now you're ready to invest in the future. Ideally you would have capitalized on your launch momentum, but considering that a third of new businesses cease to exist within their first two years it can make sense to wait to invest until you know you're in it for the long haul. Rebranding can be a way to "level up" your business when you've reached the point of being ready to raise your prices or appeal to a more discerning audience.

 

Rebranding is not the solution to every problem. 

 

Look, from time to time we all feel the urge to change our name, move to a new city, burn our birth certificate and leave the past behind. That doesn't mean it's the right call, otherwise my name would be Lydia and I'd live in Tokyo by now. When you live and breathe your brand every day, it can be easy to misjudge how fresh it still looks from the outside. If you rolled out your current brand within the past year, it's probably too soon to rebrand barring total catastrophe. Changing your brand too often can give your audience whiplash, and chasing the latest trends will only leave you looking like everyone else in another two years. (See above)

 

Rebranding is a spectrum, and a brand refresh can sometimes be just as effective as a full overhaul.

 

If your core brand strategy is sound and your values and goals as a company haven't radically changed, simple visual updates and tweaks to your messaging can recharge your brand without risking alienating the people that already know and love your brand.

If you've managed to build brand equity since you launched - meaning people recognize your brand and have a emotional connection to it, you should take that into account as you start thinking about making changes. It's easy to accidentally throw the brand equity baby out with the old brand bathwater, but there's a reason many of the world's most successful companies carefully refresh their identities occasionally instead of starting over from scratch. Again, brands are like people - it's normal to change your hairstyle and eventually grow out of your goth phase, but if you look like an entirely new person every few years people will start to wonder if you're in witness protection. Instead of getting the brand equivalent of a nose job that makes you unrecognizable, consider how you can make a few nips and tucks to look fresh but keep your original personality intact. Your nose gives you character, just like your mom always said.

Speaking of noses with character, this is Little Caesar's brand refresh in 2018. Nothing major, but manscaped to keep up with the times. See the full review at BrandNew.

 

Some questions to ask before you rebrand:

Does our brand reflect our current values and offerings? How have they changed?

What does our current brand do right? What do people already respond to?

What are the specific goals we want this rebrand to help us achieve? 

 

Rebranding is never a one size fits all process and requires a lot of hands on work from both your internal team and your creative partner (which, if you're looking for one of those, you've got our number!). The best way to set yourself up for success is by asking yourself these questions early and often, and to nail down your motivations and goals before you even start browsing agency websites. The insights you bring to the table combined with the outside perspective of a marketing-minded team are the secret sauce to any successful creative partnership.