If you think of your small business as your baby, then you know, at some point, it has to grow up. Businesses evolve, and you have to be willing to make changes when your brand messaging no longer fits.
Are you selling different products than you originally intended? Struggling to stand out from competitors? Maybe, your core audience has changed or your business logo feels a little out of date. Whatever the reasons, rebranding is a risk that requires smart planning and timing.
A rebrand involves more than just printing new promotional materials or changing your logo. If you roll out a new brand identity without a clear action plan, you will keep tripping over the same hurdles. A weak marketing strategy. Confused customers. Poor brand recognition. Know exactly what you want to accomplish before you introduce new branding. Take careful steps to craft a fresh image that makes your brand bigger, better, and prepared for the future.
Dissect the Problem
Critics aren’t the most popular people in the room, but they uncover tiny details that pave the way for improvement. Channel that brutal honesty as you think about what went wrong with your brand. What issues are driving you to make a change? Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
- You found a more profitable or reliable market and need to shift focus.
- You started out as an industry leader or innovator, but now your market is flooded.
- Your products or branding are falling behind current industry standards.
- Your brand aesthetic is too generic and forgettable.
- Your business practices don’t live up to your brand promises.
- Your branding is too complicated or muddled.
- You need a clean slate to dump a bad reputation.
- Your business has grown so much that your current branding is too limiting.
Make sure a rebrand is necessary before you invest tons of time and money. Your business reputation has value, known as brand equity. If you have a loyal customer base that feels connected to your brand image, you could lose equity by transforming your identity.
However, many new or lesser-known businesses haven’t built up much equity. If this is the case, you can usually rebrand without it having a big impact on your audience. So, what approach makes sense for you? Answer these crucial questions before moving forward.
- Do you want to retain your current audience?
- Do you need to replace your brand messaging or expand it?
- Do you have conflicting brand values or business goals?
Simplify the ideals you want to project, and it’ll be easier to decide if you need a brand makeover or just minor updates. Go through with rebranding if an image update is the best way to create lasting success for your business.
Compare the Competition
The only thing worse than a bland brand is a copycat. Imitating another brand confuses your customers. And worse, it motivates them to look more closely at your weaknesses. You don’t want what’s missing from your business to be the most memorable thing about it.
Instead, look for unique selling points to emphasize. Study your competitors to understand what makes them successful. What can you do to make the customer experience special and differentiate your brand from other businesses? You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to offer something useful to the customer and deliver on your promises.
Calculate the Cost of Rebranding
Think about what it will take financially to overhaul your brand, so you can create a realistic budget. Are you changing your business name? This requires a massive update, from your website domain to your store signage. Do thorough research to make sure your chosen name doesn’t infringe on the trademark of another brand.
Do you plan to conduct surveys or focus groups? While you can get free feedback from employees, customers are more likely to respond to incentives. Employee training is another consideration if you’re making a significant change in how you deliver service.
What visual assets do you need to reintroduce your brand in style? A creative business logo? New letterhead and business cards? Company uniforms or vehicles? Food service containers? All your digital media and printed promotional items need to reflect your new and improved branding. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of advertising if you plan to publicize your rebranding.
Look for opportunities to get things done at low cost when you have a small budget and need big improvements. For example, do you have a good writer or social media maven on your staff who can help with promotion? If you’re shelling out for a professional logo design, why not use a business card maker to create your other marketing materials?
Be Transparent With Customers
Don’t wait until launch time to tell customers what’s happening. It’s easy for long-time business owners to forget that customers feel deeply invested in brands they love. If you aren’t transparent about your plans, you could lose loyal customers who are confused about your priorities.
Clarify the goals of rebranding, and tie them into your business story. Your email newsletter, website, and in-store signs are usually the best places to communicate with current customers. Help your audience connect with your evolving mission, so they feel excited about moving forward with you.
And if your business made huge customer service blunders in the past, acknowledging them might be your best strategy. Sincerity is attractive, and customers usually don’t respond well when businesses try to gloss over major flaws.
Remember how Domino’s overcame a reputation as the worst pizza chain? The “We’re Sorry for Sucking” campaign apologized to customers for years of poor service and made people willing to give the brand another try. Use authenticity as a tool to gain new business and win back lost customers.
Roll Out a Rebrand in Stages
Try not to overwhelm customers by making sweeping changes overnight. Plan your rebranding in manageable stages, and be strategic about your timetable. Reach out to media contacts to get the word out about your upcoming changes in advance. Press releases are a good place to reveal your new brand positioning statement.
Moving your website and blog to a new domain? Start this transition early and move slowly, so you don’t lose SEO cred. Relocating your whole site at once will lower your search ranking. Let visitors know your site is moving, and redirect them to updated pages to get steady traffic to your new domain.
As your launch date draws closer, make a list of all online profiles and major directories where your business is listed. That way, you can update important listings, such as Google My Business, to ensure customers find the correct information online.
Commit to Your New Branding
Whether you’re planning a big publicity event or a low-key rollout, think of your launch as a trial period. Some customers will be skeptical and on high alert for problems. Others will be eager to support your renewal. The most important thing is to follow through on your new mission statement. Positive brand equity is something you should build upon, not throw away. Show customers you’re committed to being the best at what you do, and your rebrand will be a huge success.
One of the best places to start when it comes to rebranding is to create a logo and use that logo on promotional products. Get started today!