Has business been stagnant lately for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint? Maybe it’s time to rebrand. “The whole prospect of rebranding has to do with a company having lost its meaning, either because of tech changes or changes in what its customer base needs,” says David Brier, brand strategist with DBD International.
Anaezi Modu, founder and CEO of REBRAND, believes rebranding in the early stages of your company’s history is preferable – meaning many small businesses should give the strategy a look. “The good thing is you’re closer to the ground, you’re connected to your customers,” she says. “You may not change your name, you may not change your look and feel, but you may make consistent tweaks that continually evolve your organization.”
Think your company could benefit from rebranding? Here are some tips to decide when it’s time to do so, and how to go about making the transition an effective one.
Before you put your company through the rebranding process, it’s important to figure out if it’s really the right choice. What are some indicators that a change is needed?
It might be time “when you recognize that there’s a shift in your business in some way,” Modu says. “Perhaps you’re finding that the demographics, or who’s making decisions on purchasing, are changing. You may know by the kind of feedback you’re getting as you continue to reach out to engage folks.”
Brier always asks his clients one question to gauge whether it’s necessary for them to change things up. “I routinely ask: ’Why should I come to you when I have all of these other options available?’ And when a company can’t answer that, I can tell them right off the bat they don’t have their brand in order at all and they’ll need to rebrand,” he says.
Logos Should Tell Stories
Sara Webb was part of a large promotional products company until she founded her own distributorship, InTandem Promotions, in June of 2013. She currently has four employees, and with business doing well, she expects to add more soon. When Webb set out on her own, she wanted to create a name and logo that represented her personality and attitude toward the industry.
“One of the key ingredients that I learned is to know thyself,” she says. “I am who I am, I love products, I like thinking outside the box, and that’s really how I wanted to go to market.”
In designing a logo for her new company, Webb went through some trial and error before she decided on something that reflected her persona and her new brand. “I really wanted something that had a visual impact, so we came up with the idea of a tandem bicycle,” she says. “You have two people who are going in the same direction and they’re going toward a common goal and destination, and that was our key messaging.”
Also included in InTandem’s logo are jugglers, emphasizing another part of the firm’s intended connection to clients. “You can’t drop the ball when you’re on a team,” Webb says. “Thinking about it on a deeper level, all the things we juggle on a daily basis and all the things our clients are juggling came into play, so now we have a story in building our brand.”
Play the Name Game
Starting a new company is one thing, but if you’re an established firm with a company name your clients recognize, altering that name is a dramatic step. If you decide a name change is in order, Modu suggests the following checklist.
First, pick something that is unique. “You need to know what’s available, and you need to know what resonates with people,” she says. Next, avoid the temptation for complexity and keep it short and simple. “You need to make it as easy to spell as possible,” Modu says. “If you can, limit it to four syllables – not four words, but four syllables – because if you don’t, people will shorten it anyway and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Finally, stay away from acronyms. “They’re like alphabet soup, and only you know what it means,” says Modu.
Explain Benefits to Customers
It’s obviously crucial to reassure your current clients when altering your business in any way. A rebrand is no different.
“Always, always put your customer at the heart, not in lip service but really at the heart, to let them know why this is better for them,” Modu says. “Certainly one way to get at that is to talk with them to know what could work better for them, and you can integrate that into what you’re doing. You never need to market if you’ve been communicating all along.”
Brier highly recommends explaining to customers that your rebranding process is a proactive step, not a reactive one. “Maybe, for example, your company is known for quality,” he says. “Tell your clients proactively and responsibly, ’hey, in order to serve you better, we reviewed where things are at and we realized we can make things better than they are.’ You’re not alienating – instead, you’re actually showing by action that you are doing what you profess.”
Build on Strengths
When conducting a rebranding marketing campaign – through social media, direct mail advertising, or by using promo products – Brier thinks reminding customers of what you do best is a key selling point.
Let’s say, for instance, a brand is known for great footwear, but now it also wants to start selling T-shirts and sports apparel. According to Brier, the company should tell its clients “’we’re going to take everything we learned in footwear and we’re going to apply those same principles that have made us a leader in that area to this area so we can bring you even more quality.’ It’s just knowing how to package and be responsive to how you’re navigating this change. You’re not doing it as a reaction.”
Set the Right Tone
Remember that same enthusiasm and commitment to quality service and communication you had when you began your company? If any of that has fallen by the wayside, Modu thinks a rebrand is the perfect time for a fresh start.
“Treat others the way you’d want to be treated,” she says. “It sounds crazy, but it is that simple. Sometimes we overcomplicate it. It’s how you engage with your customers and then make sure prospects know about what you’re doing, figuring out how you can be of the most help to them.”
The trick, if there is one, is to be consistent and not let your service slip as time passes, according to Modu. “If you’re addressing basic human pinpoints, customers will love you, and they’ll even pay you more money for what you have that you offer.”
Finally, Modu reminds distributors to keep doing what their customers currently enjoy the most and incorporate that strong suit into a rebrand. “If someone makes you feel good, feel relieved, feel helped, whatever it is that can ease someone’s life, keep focusing on that,” she says.
Show Your True Colors
Sara Webb, founder of InTandem Promotions, is all about reinforcing her brand wherever she goes – and that includes showcasing her firm’s bright color scheme. “It’s a visual impact or reminder,” she says. “If I’m walking down the hall in a client’s office and they see our teal, it reinforces InTandem and who we really are. When I go on client meetings, I may not have a branded shirt, but I’m always wearing my teal colors in every interaction we do in the marketplace.”
Webb is quite serious about making InTandem’s trademark teal stand out. Every giveaway her company provides is colored teal. The walls in InTandem’s office are, you guessed it, teal. So is the bag Webb always carries around. “It’s like the Coca-Cola red where you see that color, you see that signature, and you automatically tie it to that company, that organization,” Webb says.
This strategy, Webb believes, is especially beneficial for young companies like hers that are still trying to earn that instant recognition with prospective customers. “Because we are so new, having that teal everywhere we can, it creates an independent company,” she says. “Every touch point, every interaction, from all of our communications and our emails to anything from a corporate perspective – apparel, the trade shows, our giveaways – everything that we’re doing contains our personality.”