These past 18 months have been a time of reinvention for many industries. Faced with restrictions on when and how operations proceed, many business owners have had to think outside the box simply to stay afloat. Others have gone dark because there was nothing else they could do.
Now that there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, new challenges arise. Rebranding your business might make sense if your company has undergone significant changes—or if you launched a brand-new venture during the past 18 months. If you’re part of the latter group, you’re certainly not alone.
More new businesses were established over the past year than ever before, registering a growth of 24% across all sectors—almost eight million new companies in all—outpacing the previous year’s 20%.
A strong brand can help you to improve sales, build customer loyalty, and make your business more more memorable. Color can improve brand recognition by 80% and presenting a consistent brand can boost sales by 23%. Getting your brand right is worth the time and investment. Here are our top tips to get it right.
Why do companies rebrand?
Companies rebrand for various reasons. In some cases, the old business model isn’t working anymore. Perhaps you’ve change
d how you serve clients, eliminated some services, added new ones, or augmented your offering by taking on a partner. In any case, if your old messaging doesn’t seem to sit just right, rebranding your company is a way to bring it back into focus.
If you launched a company as a new entity during 2020 or 2021, branding might have been low on the list of priorities. In the beginning, it was all about filling the needs, finding your customers, and figuring out your workflows. Now that things have settled into a groove, you have a better idea of your identity. Rebranding with that in mind will help you refine your mission and move into the next phase of growth.
When is rebranding a good idea for your small business?
The decision to rebrand your business shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a massive undertaking, and you want to ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons. That being said, there are as many reasons to rebrand as there are reasons not to.
Some of the top reasons for rebranding your company include:
- Adding new products or services - like we have!
- Changing the way you deliver your products or services
- You’ve relocated your business
- Your customer demographic has changed
- Your mission and vision have changed
- You’ve partnered or merged with another company
On the other side of the coin, here are a few not-so-great reasons to rebrand:
· You’re bored with your website or the way your branding looks. Keep in mind: your branding is how your customer remembers you. You might be tired of it – but their opinion counts even more.
· To cover up bad press. If you’ve had some issues with bad reviews, lawsuits, or scandal, rebranding is not the answer. People will quickly figure it out, and you’ll be worse off than when you started. This is especially true if you provide services within a community. You’re better off spending your time righting the wrongs before you rebrand. Everybody loves a good comeback!
· For attention’s sake. Jumping into a rebrand just because sales are lagging is not a good strategy. You might generate some initial buzz, but you’ll need a sales and marketing strategy if you want to sustain it – and you’ll lose whatever brand recognition you had already built. In that case, you’re probably better off applying that strategy to the existing brand.
· You’re making changes to your business, but they’re not significant. If your business model isn’t about to change, if you’ve got great customers who love what you do, there’s no reason to think about rebranding your business. Rebranding usually represents a massive change, and if there is none, you risk confusing your customers, vendors, suppliers, and employees.
Getting started: building a rebranding strategy
To successfully rebrand your company in 2021, you need to start with a solid strategy—a roadmap that begins with where you are now and outlines all the steps you’ll take to arrive at your destination.
Start by thinking about your current brand identity. What is it now? What do you want it to be? How are the two different?
In some cases, a complete rebranding might not be necessary. Let’s look at the differences between full rebrands and partial rebrands.
Total rebrand vs. partial rebrand
If your business is well-established, there’s a lot at stake where rebranding is concerned. If you’ve been in the market for a long time, perhaps a partial rebrand is a better strategy. Using this approach, you tweak aspects of your branding to reflect a new focus, a new look, or appeal to a new demographic or market.
One of the most compelling examples of a highly successful partial rebrand is for Old Spice. They still featured the same colors, a similar logo, and the product itself did not change much. However, the brand attitude shifted considerably. By using humor and a razor-sharp visual campaign, they refreshed their audience. They broadened their appeal to include a new generation of buyers that included women (who would buy the product for the men in their lives).
If your products and services have not changed, but your demographic and audience have, a partial rebrand might be the magic potion. Research your current customers and build new personas to illustrate your ideal buyers—these details will help inform the direction you take next.
A full rebranding would be indicated if your company has new goals, a new focus, or a new partnership that’s taking your organization in a new direction. Full rebrands usually result in a name change, a new look, and new messaging. It’s a head-to-toe makeover that helps you move in a new direction.
If your website, logo, messaging, and name don’t reflect what you’re doing now and where you’re going, it’s time. A new brand should attract the right people and increase awareness naturally and organically. Your new messaging should speak honestly and directly to your audience while staying true to your values and vision.
How to rebrand your company in 2021
So now that you have an idea about whether rebranding is right for your company, here is our step-by-step checklist to guide you through the process.
1. Research and reestablish your brand’s audience and market
Ongoing market research is critical to ensure your marketing efforts are reaching the right audience. First, you’ll want to look at your current customers, the people buying from you right now.
Then, you’ll need to find out who else they’re buying from. Understanding the competition is a critical element if you want to ensure your rebranding efforts are well-placed.
Things you might consider:
- Reaching out to top customers to chat in person about how you can improve your services.
- Sending out an email survey to your customers asking them for feedback.
- Requesting reviews each time after you complete a job.
- Add a survey to your website. Services like Survey Monkey make it super easy to set this up.
This research often illuminates information that’ll surprise you. The important thing is to have the data to back up your decisions – so you can move forward with confidence.
2. Redefine your mission, vision, and voice
These are the what, where, how, and why of your company. If you’re rebranding for the right reasons, chances are these things have changed considerably since the last time you thought about it.
· Vision. This is your North Star; your reason for doing what you do—it’s the “what.” For example, maybe your company builds residential homes. But what really drives you is putting people into sustainable, passive homes that enhance comfort and help save the planet. Once you have that North Star in your sights, you can tie everything in your branding back to that idea. If it doesn’t fit, it shouldn’t be part of your new messaging.
· Mission. Your mission is the “how.” In a rebranding context, you’ll want to think about what’s changed in how you deliver your products and services. Your mission ultimately becomes the roadmap of reaching your North Star, which can be fluid at times. Keep in mind, if that roadmap changes, your mission statement needs to change to reflect that.
· Values. Your values are the “why” that supports the what and the how. They reflect your dedication to the mission and vision and articulate what matters most to you. Like the mission, values can change over time. You need to ensure your brand values are in line with your current business model.
· Brand voice. Just as your mission, vision, and values change as your company evolves, your brand voice must also change to align with those ideas. Brand voice is about how you convey your thoughts, and it needs to match the tone you’re projecting. If what you’re saying is different, then how you say it must also change.
3. Will you rename your company?
Changing a company name is not without a significant amount of risk. You stand to lose all the brand recognition you’ve built thus far, not to mention any traction you have in the search engines.
Plus, it’s incredibly hard to choose a good name—one that speaks to your brand and what you do. If your name still speaks to who you are and what you do, perhaps there’s no need to change. Only consider a name change if it doesn’t fit with your new direction.
Here are some ideas to help you choose a new name for your company:
- Be literal and say exactly what you do, like Christy’s Bakery or Cameron Photography.
- Modify the spelling of a word, like Krispy Kreme, Froot Loops, or Reddit.
- Think of a clever acronym. For example, a restaurant rebranded as “TWIST,” which was an acronym for “the way it should taste.”
- Add your location paired with your service like California Flooring Service.
- Add a suffix. For example, Shopify, Spotify, or Optimizely.
Above all, be sure the new name aligns with your mission, vision, and values. Yes, it should sound good and catchy. But if it makes no sense, you’ll just confuse your customers.
4. Rethink your slogan
A good slogan is a way to capture attention and stay top-of-mind with your ideal customers. Your brand slogan should reflect what you do and give people a taste of your brand personality.
If you come up with something and you find after a while that it doesn’t quite work, it’s much easier to change a slogan than a logo or a company name.
There are a few companies that made simple updates to their slogans that made a big impact. For example, Airbnb went from a bland “Feel ordinary with us” to a more impactful “Belong Anywhere.” Home Depot updated from “More Doing. More Saving.” to the more iconic “How does get more done.”
5. Rethink your brand identity
Your brand identity consists of the visual and design elements you use to communicate with your customers. Chances are, if you’re looking at a complete rebrand, many things have changed, so the visual aspects of it should work as well.
You will need:
· A new logo. Make it fresh, relevant, and reflective of what your company represents today. Keep it simple, don’t clutter it up with too much symbolism. It should be memorable, unique, classic, and appropriate to your niche and customer base. Ultimately, you want it to stand the test of time, so be sure the logo represents who you are now and where you want to be in the future.
· A new color palette. The right color palette can have a significant impact on how people perceive your brand. Consider color psychology as well as what your biggest competitors are using. Your colors have a massive effect on your brand personality and tone. Be sure to check how your color palette shows on print vs. screen, as sometimes the differences can be remarkable.
· Typography. Fonts are another vital aspect of brand perception. Font accessibility is a key concern, as some fonts won’t display well on all devices or print on certain machines. Choose fonts that reflect your audience. Look to the work you’ve done in the past to see what worked and what didn’t.
· Imagery and shapes. Maintaining a cohesive look and feel is critical, most especially when rebranding your business. Consider all aspects – including design – carefully. Be sure your shapes and images align with your new look, feel, and messaging.
· New brand guidelines. Brand guidelines help you maintain consistency across all your marketing efforts. Having well-established brand guidelines ensures a cohesive look and tone across all your channels—meaning your customers will have the same experience whether they are on your social pages, your app, or your website.
Rebranding for 2021: are you ready?
A year like this deserves a new outlook. If your business has seen big changes over the past year, or if you’ve just been too busy keeping up with demand in your new business to think about branding, we hope this guide sets you on a productive and creative path.
Looking for expert tips to help you improve your brand quickly? Check out our free mini-course on how to build your business brand with expert brand strategist, Nakita Pope.