To rebrand or not to rebrand, that is the question. Most businesses, big and small, need to at least freshen up their brands every several years. Logos might stay the same or only be tweaked very slightly (and very carefully), but brochures, websites, stationery and everything in between, usually needs to be updated every few years.
Sometimes, a full rebrand that wipes the slate clean and starts from scratch is necessary. This can be a big (but fun!) undertaking and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but, if done right, businesses can reap huge rewards from reworking their brands - especially if they’re faced with any of the situations below.
YOUR BUSINESS’ ORIGINAL MISSION, NAME, OFFERINGS, ETC. HAVE CHANGED.
This one’s kind of a no brainer. If you’re business doesn’t offer the same services and products it did when you first branded, it’s likely that your old logo and marketing materials no longer reflect what you do. Perhaps you’ve decided to move from business coaching to nutrition and fitness coaching, or you’re now selling clothing instead of homewares. Those kinds of changes will require a rebrand that might even include a name change.
You’d also need to change your business name if you’re doing something like going from a one-woman operation to having a partner. If your business name wasn’t your own name, you might be able to get away with using the same name, but it’s still likely that you’ll want to change your name and rebrand, if only to make sure people know that it’s not just you anymore.
Another possibility is that you might be offering the same kinds of services, but your doing it for different reasons now, so your vision and mission are changing. Maybe you’ve realized that there’s a bigger reason for doing what you do, and you want to communicate that to your audience. If that’s the case, you guessed it - it’s rebrand time!
YOU’D LIKE TO TAP INTO A NEW MARKET/DEMOGRAPHIC.
Another one of the most common reasons businesses rebrand is to target a new market of individuals. You might find that to continue growing your business, you need to reach out to an older demographic. Maybe the young folks you thought you wanted to work with can’t afford what you’re offering. Or perhaps they’re more likely to do it themselves. Maybe you’ve been targeting life coaches, but you’ve realized you’d rather work with photographers.
Regardless of the reason, if you’re trying to attract a different group of people you’ll need to assess your current branding and make sure it’ll appeal to this new demographic. If it comes up short, it’s time to rebrand.
YOUR ORIGINAL LOOK IS DATED OR CLEARLY A DO-IT-YOURSELFER.
Many small business owners don’t think they can spend the money to hire a professional brand designer when they first get started. It’s unfortunate that this belief is so pervasive because having a professional brand that truly reflects your business’s values and mission can contribute significantly to the success of your business. Too often, people design their logos themselves, or hire someone on the cheap, and end up with a logo and visual identity that look unprofessional or even amateurish (no offense diy-ers, but it happens). Often, diy logos are heavily reliant on what’s easily available and popular at the moment, which can result in a too trendy logo that easily becomes dated once the trend is over.
And as much as I believe that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, if the outside of your business doesn’t reflect the inside, it’s that much more difficult to communicate with and build trust in potential clients.
UPDATES HAVE BEEN PATCHY AND NOW IT LOOKS INCONSISTENT.
Another common situation is that business owners get bored over time or make incremental changes to the business and end up changing aspects of their brands. If it’s done frequently and without a lot of forethought, you can end up with an inconsistent and disjointed brand. If your materials no longer communicate a consistent message, you’re likely to confuse viewers and cause them to go elsewhere.
YOUR BRAND IS TOO GENERIC AND DOESN’T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU STAND FOR.
This is another common problem for small business owners who are wary of spending too much money early in the lives of their businesses. Capturing the true essence of any business is no easy job, and it takes time and energy for any designer to dig deeply enough to really get the gist of a business’ personality and style.
Alternatively, an inexperienced designer might have a good handle on what you and your business are all about, but he might rely on what’s trendy at the moment to express it. This can result in branding that communicates your essence but is too similar to a lot of other business’ branding.
This is one of the reasons that logos don’t cost $500, and the ones that do often just don’t say enough to truly differentiate a business from its competitors. To design a truly effective logo, you have to first grasp the essence of a business and then develop a logo and look that accurately represent what the business stands for AND helps the business stand out from everyone else. This is no easy task and takes quite a lot of thought, effort and time.
YOU WEREN’T CLEAR ON YOUR BRAND’S MISSION AND VISION TO BEGIN WITH.
Sometimes, business owners just don’t have the time or wherewithal to do the upfront work required to get super clear on the what, why and for whom of their businesses before launching. It’s pretty hard to have a fantastic brand designed when you’re not clear yourself on what you’re trying to communicate.
Truthfully, this one hits pretty close to home for me. I recently finished working with a coach who helped me dig deep to figure out what makes me different from other firms, why I do what I do and for whom I want to do it. The end result was that I pretty clearly need to rebrand.
It wasn’t really what I wanted to hear, but I also wasn’t that surprised to hear it. I felt so much pressure to have my business up and running by a certain date so I could begin bringing income in that I settled on a just-ok name that I now can see doesn’t say anything about who I am. I also quickly pulled from my library of patterns and artwork that I’d created for a personal project I’d done a few years prior, and I now see that it’s not terribly effective in grabbing potential clients’ attention.
Even a brand expert can make this mistake, so if this describes your situation, you can take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
YOUR BRANDING ISN’T DOING IT’S JOB.
Perhaps sales have started to drop off, and you’ve done everything you can to increase them to no avail. It might be that your old branding just isn’t cutting it anymore. A rebrand could potentially bump up your website views, spark interest in potential customers and get your existing customers jazzed again.
Another sign your branding isn’t doing the job is if your website bounce rate is quite high or you’re not gaining loyal blog readers or clients. If your brand is on target (and you’re doing all of the other marketing activities you should be doing), your conversion rate should be pretty high. It’s possible that folks just aren’t responding to your branding when they hit your website.
The truth is that people make very quick judgements about you and your business, so your brand and website need to be enticing and professional enough to make people want to stick around and learn more about who you are and what you do.
WHEN NOT TO REBRAND
With that said, there are times when you shouldn’t rebrand. Probably the most common reason NOT to rebrand is if you’re simply bored with your old logo and look. Truthfully, this just isn’t a good enough reason to rebrand. If you have a well-designed brand that’s served your business well, you want to capitalize on the brand recognition you’ve built. To change everything up simply because you’re bored could cause you to lose a lot of that recognition and end up hurting your business. Besides, it’s quite a bit of work, and any designer worth their salt (and why would you hire someone who isn’t, right?) won’t be cheap. Perhaps you freshen things up a bit while still maintaining brand consistency, of course, but save the full-blown rebrand for when it’s truly necessary.