By Alicia Galan
Something’s changed. You don’t feel as inspired anymore. You’re not getting the same enthusiastic responses you used to. You try to fall back in love, but something feels . . . off.
Your brand is just like any other relationship. It’s complicated. There are issues.
Issues are natural; they don’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong. It’s a natural to take a step back from your brand and rethink things every once in a while. It’s part of a healthy business life cycle. In fact, even the most well-known corporations regularly do rebrands (Facebook and Netflix, just to name a few).
If something feels off with your brand, pay attention to your intuition, but don’t let your imagination run wild. While you probably need to adjust your brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean changing your entire business. A rebrand could be minor, such as simply refreshing a brand’s look and feel after a long period of time; it could also be major, requiring you to redefine your goals and target market.
Whatever the scope of the rebrand, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Follow these four tips to prepare yourself for a rebrand.
1. Pinpoint the source of your discomfort
The most important thing you can do before taking on a rebrand is deciding what needs to be changed—and what doesn’t.
Take out a fresh page piece of paper or turn to a new page in your business notebook. Try to remember the times your brand has made you feel uncomfortable: Was it when you were on your website home page, or when you heard a friend describe your business all wrong, or when you hesitated to pull out your business card? Write down as many uncomfortable moments that you remember.
Next, make three lists: (1) things you love about your brand, (2) things you’re neutral or have mixed feelings about, and (3) things you wish you could change. Start as general as you like, but try to get as specific as you can.
Take your time with this exercise. It’s a chance to review all your brand assets and get a handle on all those feelings about your business you may have been suppressing for the sake of getting things done—whether they’re feelings of pride or feelings of anxiety. Simply by doing this exercise your brain will start to notice and clarify new things on its own.
2. Rediscover your ideal client
Remember that your brand isn’t about you, the business owner; it’s about your customers. Your offerings exist to serve them, and your marketing is always about resonating and connecting with them.
Take a look at any old documents you created about defining your ideal customer or target market—this would include your brand profile. Is the person you described still the same person you’re seeking to attract? If the answer is no, it’s time to do some research and collect some data!
Start researching your industry and market to see who your offering would most benefit. Even more importantly, speak to your current and past customers about why they chose your business, and what they got out of the experience of working with or purchasing from you. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes before you start the rebranding process so you can best cater your new and improved brand to the right people.
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3. Think long term
Branding is all about things that are deep and central to your business. Take that piece of paper out again and ask yourself, “What do I want my brand to have accomplished 20 years down the line?” Thinking about that long-term goal can help you realize what desires are prompting you as a business owner. Your deepest motivations are directly connected to the personality and values of your business.
Let those goals and values shine through in your new brand identity. Don’t change something just to stay on-trend. A great brand is authentic and unique. If you try to be like everyone else, your audience will notice.
4. Decide if you need a refresh or overhaul
Let’s return to those lists you made earlier: (1) things you love about your brand, (2) things you’re neutral or have mixed feelings about, and (3) things you wish you could change. After looking at your ideal client and long-term goals, is there anything you’d like to add?
If your first list is very long and your third list is very short, you may very likely need a minor brand refresh. Maybe you discover, for example, that the only thing you dislike about your brand is the font you’ve been using. After a little research, you realize it’s because you’ve been using a serif font (like Times New Roman) when the core of your brand is the concept of youth and your target market is college-age women. If your brand strategy, messaging, imagery, and colors are all youthful, a simple update to your fonts will let you fall in love all over again.
But what about if your list of things you wish you could change is pretty long? Or if you can’t put your finger on what the problem is? Then it might be time to consider a brand overhaul. In this case you will need to align all the elements of your brand, from mission and ideal client to colors and personality.
No matter what level of rebrand you need, keep in mind that the process doesn’t involve getting rid of everything. Like pruning a tree so healthy new growth can come in, the goal of rebranding is to strengthen and improve the brand you’ve already built.
Bottom line: Make a list to figure out what exactly is troubling you about your brand. Reconnect with your ideal customer. Think about your long-term goals to figure out what motivates you. Decide if your brand simply needs to be refreshed, or if you need an entire brand overhaul. Either way, take a deep breath and prepare to fall back in love with your brand!