Rebranding is a big deal.  Initiating a rebrand is a project to be taken seriously!  It is one that ideally involves strategic thinking and a planned execution.  If you are thinking about rebranding your business, this Marketing Tip of the Week is a good place to start.  Let’s talk about the essentials of rebranding your business with a Q&A approach!

What are some reasons why you might want to rebrand?

If you have found over time that the audience’s understanding of your products or services has not matched up with the brand you’ve been presenting to them, this is a big reason to consider a rebrand (and/or doing more market research on your target market).  If there is a mismatch in perception – either one that has always been there or one that has evolved – you would waste significant effort in order to bring in your goal revenue.

Another reason may be that your target market’s values have shifted.  If you believe this to be true, research!  Seek as many data points as you can to confirm that their values or priorities are changing.  If they are still your desired target market, a rebrand may help you stay in alignment with them.

A rebrand may also be worthwhile if your original brand wasn’t timeless.  Timelessness is a factor you want to consider in developing your brand, but it could be that now the visuals or the language just don’t make as much sense in the current day as they did when you first launched.

What is not a reason to rebrand?

Because you feel like it.  I see this a lot with microbusinesses, especially in the early years.  Rebranding is a process and one to be taken seriously due to the impact it has on your audience!

Because you aren’t sure what your brand is.  On many occasions I have heard business owners (usually small business owners with small teams) say “I’ll just rebrand” in the middle of thinking through what tag lines or DBAs may work better for their business than what they are currently using.  Rebranding is not a term we use loosely regarding the process of identifying our brand.  Rebranding is an intentional campaign to launch your new brand to the world.  Your goal is to present the clearest, least confusing portrayal of your business.  Outside of controlled focus groups, workshopping your ideas publicly is counterproductive!

Workshopping your ideas publicly is counterproductive! #brand #marketing #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur #business Click To Tweet

What impact does rebranding have on your audience?

Your audience got their first impressions of your business through your original brand.  Rebranding is the equivalent of reintroducing your audience to your business.

Think about what that would mean in a social setting. If you are at a social event and you meet someone for the first time, what are you going to show about yourself?  Are you going to try to cram 10 completely different fun facts about yourself into 1 minute?  No – they would have no idea what to do with all that disparate information.  Are you going to lead with your greatest uncertainties?  No, you probably start by assigning concrete labels and facts to yourself (maybe that you’re married with two kids, that you live in Tennessee, that you run a computer repair company, that you are a classical pianist).

Rebranding is the equivalent of reintroducing your audience to your business. #brand #marketing #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb Click To Tweet

By extension, the first introduction you make of your business is through your brand.  Your audience will give limited attention at first.  If you put out a concrete message that resonates with them, they will listen for more.  Read here for more on this!

So, what does rebranding do?  It reintroduces your brand to your audience.

Let’s go back to the social event metaphor.   If you show up at the party and introduce yourself one way, and then show up at another party with the same people 6 months later and introduce yourself a completely different way, what are you saying?  Who are you really?  Is it worth spending the time to get to know this version of you or are you going to change again?

When rebranding is done well, it acknowledges the change.  Instead of glossing over the change, it announces that one has happened and brings the audience with you to make sure they see what you stand for.

What does the rebranding process look like?

Rebranding has phases.

The first phase is planning, and this phase shouldn’t be overlooked.  If anything, you want to spend the most time in this part of the process.  Planning should involve market research.  It may involve surveys, focus groups, or some other study of your target markets or constituents.  With this knowledge, you are now in a position to create new assets for your business.  This may involve a new business name, new design work and art, new copy, a new slogan, a new website.  All of the ways that your brand is represented internally and to the outside world should be changed to be consistent with the new brand.  Logistically, one of the key steps to executing this switch is taking stock of all the assets that need to be changed so you can ensure nothing gets left behind.

Another phase is the build up.  It’s confusing for the audience if you make an abrupt change, and that confusion might be measured in less traffic, fewer sales, or – for nonprofits – fewer donations.  This can be mitigated by teasing the launch of your new brand.  The more time you give them to adjust, the better.  Can you give them months?  Half a year?  More?  Let them know that change is coming and that you are excited to unveil it.  Let them in on the process however much you can.  Invite them to a launch event.  Send direct emails to different constituent groups to give them a special nod, inside information, or advance looks at certain elements of your change.  This not only helps fight the confusion, but also helps draw more eyes to your eventual launch.

Of course, the launch phase is key.  What are all the things you will do to roll out your new brand?  Will this include an offline or online event?  A press release?  A special discount?  Perhaps you will roll out each new piece of collateral over a week.  Launches aren’t a one-day-and-done campaign.  You can draw out all of your planned elements, new assets, and the social proof of testimonials and good feedback you receive to make your launch last days, weeks, or months.

With that in mind, post-launch is a phase of the rebrand, too.  It may take a while for everyone in your audience to get the news, especially if you changed your business name.  Also, it may take time for them to remember the change even after they have heard it.  This is why you may see businesses out there listing their new name and their former name, for example.  Or websites where the new look or new structure is mentioned.   You may need to leave the breadcrumbs in place for a little while to ensure that everyone catches up with you!

Post-launch is a phase of the rebrand, too. #marketing #brand #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #biztips #business Click To Tweet

If a rebrand is in the cards, it could be a great thing for your business if you do it intentionally.  But beware of the flippant or poorly thought out rebrand.  Rebranding directly impacts your audience, and it is a project that should be handled with care!

And if you are at a point where you need to clarify your brand or your target market, I encourage you to check out this resource. Whether you are defining your brand for the first time or getting ready to rebrand, the more exact you can be now, the more effective your marketing will be later!