I recently spent several hours talking with a friend about rebranding her business and repositioning her marketing. For this post, let’s call her Sarah. Sarah has a small dance studio in a small town. When she was growing up there were lots of studios that would pop up and disappear within a few years. Sarah wanted her business to be different, she wanted to provide consistency for her students and a quality dance education that comes from showing up year after year.
The name and logo she chose for her business when she got started are not working for her now. It is too hard for people to spell and the name is too narrow for the classes she offers. This is a problem a lot of small businesses face, especially early on. When you start a business there is considerable amount of time that goes into trial and error, that is part of being an owner of a successful business. However, that trial and error means that your original vision for the business changes and may mean that your logo and branding needs to change to keep up.
As with any business rebranding is scary, and a hard decision to make. It’s like standing at the top of a mountain, with all your customers, clients and followers standing behind you down hill. You are standing at the top, looking out, and seeing all this potential and growth and hope. Then you look behind you, and the question still stands: “Will my customers follow me down this rocky slope, or will I lose them in the process?”.
Realize that your logo, is not your brand. I will say it again: “Your logo is not your brand”. A brand is a sum of all of the things that make up the identity of your business. Your brand is your registration form, your logo, that first phone call with a prospect, the words on your website, that email you sent at 3am, and the sign you hung at the last trade show. Branding is your business identity, it is not just your logo and colors. And your customers see you as more than your logo too. They have ideas about what your business is and who you are. If the identity of your business does not match your current branding (logo, website, store front, etc.) it might be time to redefine your visual brand.
Pepsi has proven over and over that you can successfully change and evolve your business’ visual identity. Pepsi has changed their logo seven times in the last 50 years, four of those were within the last 20 years. Originally, Pepsi wasn’t even called Pepsi, it was “Brad’s Drink” for the first five years and was changed to Pepsi-cola in 1898.
Currently, Domino’s is in the middle of a huge rebranding campaign, marking a shift from fast-food pizza delivery to just fast-food delivery. The company says that they offer more than just pizza, which is why they have dropped “pizza” from their name. Along with the name and logo change, the brand is also revamping recipes and the in-store experience.
Other famous rebrands include Starbucks, JCPenny, Gap and Tropicana. What we can learn from all of these, successful or not, is that you need to rebrand with purpose. Rebranding to be trendy is not smart, and for some companies, like Tropicana, can hurt your sales. That being said, your visual presence and name should match who you are and what your company has evolved to be. If your brand is not keeping up with where your business is headed, it might be time to rebrand.
That fear of rebranding comes from looking back, not forward, but you can also find strength in that crowd behind you. The real question you should ask is “Who do they think I am?”. What do your customers say about your business? Looking at how your customer’s describe you can tell you a lot about the image you are projecting. Understanding what your current customer’s think can help you ensure that they will continue to follow you as you change.
Below are some questions to ask yourself to help evaluate if it’s time to rebrand. It is always a hard decision, but ultimately a strategic one. Asking the right questions will help you make a sound decision about your company’s branding.
After collecting information, and asking all the right questions the ultimate question is: “Is it a good, strategic move to rebrand in order to grow my business?”. If the answer is yes, the next step is to do a branding audit and decide what needs to change.
Put together a plan so you won’t have to redesign your logo three months later. Get my four step guide to put together your strategy before talking to your designer.