Branding can make or break your startup, therefore, you can consider the time you spend going through your strategic planning and branding process to be an investment in the future of your business. But let’s face it, many entrepreneurs skip a few steps in their rush to get their new business to market!
Since time brings wisdom, you may have learned a few lessons since you compiled your first marketing strategy. Now that you know better, a rebranding exercise could be a great way to leverage all the best aspects of your business and get rid of the parts you don’t feel comfortable with.
For example, if you’re looking for investors or business partners, this is your chance to demonstrate your vision and showcase your business model. If you handle the strategic planning process carefully, rebranding can free your business from the constraints of a generic brand and finally unleash the explosive growth you’re looking for. But this time, don’t skip any steps!
Define the reasons for rebranding
Don’t rebrand on a whim. Weigh the pros and cons carefully, then plan what steps you have to take to make rebranding a great success without losing your audience.
- Are you entering new markets or producing a wider range of products?
- Have you simply outgrown a generic look and feel? This time around, it may be worth spending a little extra to get professional design help.
- Are competitors capitalizing on your brand? Are you operating in a crowded segment where many brands look the same?
- Are you facing a PR nightmare, managing adverse customer reactions, or trying to overcome a bad reputation?
These are all valid reasons for considering a rebrand. In such cases, modernizing and refreshing your brand can help you tell a stronger brand story and demonstrate your commitment to providing a better product and customer service.
Rebranding or renaming?
Once you’re clear about the reasons for rebranding, it’s time to develop your new shake-up strategy. You need to define your new values so you can change the company’s image. It’s not necessary to rename the company and start from a clean slate. In fact, don’t do that unless you have very good reasons, e.g., trademark issues or if someone else uses a name that infringes on your unique identity.
8 practical steps for the rebranding exercise
This is your opportunity for a do-over, so if you didn’t do it properly the first time, go through a formal strategic strategy planning process.
Research your competitors thoroughly
Use a VPN to stalk your competitors (in a friendly, non-threatening way, of course!). A VPN Chrome extension is a handy tool to change your IP location and study every aspect of your competitors’ market positioning and branding in an anonymous way. You don’t want to let on that you’re scrutinizing them, but you’ll want to copy their successes and avoid their mistakes.
Re-evaluate your mission, vision, and values
Once you know what you want to keep and what new elements you want to add, it’s time to get to the specifics.
- What makes you stand out?
- What differentiates you from your competitors?
- What about your company inspires trust and loyalty?
- Do you understand your target market?
- Do you connect with them on an emotional level?
- What is your value proposition?
Question everything about your company’s identity. Pick the aspects you want to keep, and expand and update all the elements that need improving.
Consider all the aspects that go into building brand identity
You may want to move away from generic logos and graphic designs. A new tagline might do a better job of communicating your core values to prospective customers. What about your website? It’s often the first point of contact with prospective customers. Remember to change all your stationery, e.g., emails and
business cards. Don’t forget about product packaging, fonts, color palette, and new graphics to portray your fresh new public image.
Don’t be too hasty
Don’t just drop your domain name like a hot potato – keep control over the gradual migration to your new business and domain name. No matter how much money you spend on unveiling your new brand identity, some people will miss the memo. Get an SEO professional to manage the online migration of websites and your social media footprint.
Publish a new brand guideline to guide your staff and contractors through the change. Be consistent and change all your visual assets to the new brand. Inconsistent behavior can cause confusion and mistrust.
Collaborate with your team
Your employees will be the first representatives of the new brand. If you don’t get their buy-in, you may have to fight your first branding battle within your own ranks.
Don’t ignore the paperwork
You don’t want to keep going through relaunches, so check a few things before you finalize your plans:
- Is the new business name unique?
- Can you trademark the name?
- Register the domain name.
- Register the new name with the appropriate state and Federal agencies.
- Amend all legal documents to reflect your new name, starting with your bank, professional organizations, the IRS, business partners, suppliers, and contractors.
Keep your customers in the loop
Once you have a clear timeline, take care to let your customers know of the impending change. This could be a fantastic PR exercise and marketing opportunity, so get your marketing and sales teams working on ways to profit from the hype.
Missed opportunities may make rebranding necessary. Rebranding is not for the fainthearted, but if you can provide your customers with a convincing narrative, it can be an excellent opportunity to invigorate your company and boost sales. If you plan the process carefully, you can reach brand-new markets, inspire loyalty among existing customers, and free your company from an outdated public image.