Have you ever thought about rebranding your business? We all make minor adjustments to our brand, but to completely rebrand a company is like giving your business open-heart surgery and hoping to come out of it better than you were before. In this article, I explore the idea of rebranding your business and talk about the pros and cons of such a huge decision.
Rebranding is a big deal. It's not just as simple as changing your logo and changing your name and moving forward. It involves a whole lot more and can actually really harm your brand if done improperly or done for the wrong reasons. Through my own trial and error, I have uncovered some do's and don'ts of rebranding.
Let's talk about my own company, Wapiti as a case in point. The purpose of Wapiti was originally to help small business owners grow their business, but I've since found that I work really well within the non-profit industry as well. Since a lot of the lingo around Wapiti, including my podcast "Business Growth Podcast," doesn't directly translate to the non-profit world (even though the non-profit world does need to follow the same principles as for-profits), I needed to consider a rebranding. I toyed with the idea of blowing up the name Wapiti and coming out with something different purely because I wanted to be able to appeal to both sides. However, since I thought Wapiti was completely on point with what I am doing, I ultimately chose to stick with that because I was developing a bit of brand recognition as well, and I didn't want to lose that.
To more directly speak to the non-profit industry, I created my niche brand Handiwork Marketing. This was under the umbrella of Wapiti. When Handiwork Marketing was fairly new, I decided to change the name to Handiwork by Wapiti to better show that is is actually part of Wapiti but has its own separate focus. A name change can have its cons, as we will talk about later, but since it was a very non-established brand compared to Wapiti, it wasn't a big change for me to make. In time, Handiwork will be the sole company that takes care of the non-profits that come our way.
Rebranding isn't uncommon in the business world. There have been several other companies in similar situations of wanting or needing to rebrand. I recently talked with a local business owner who is expanding. She was chatting with me about if she should focus on rebranding slightly because she wanted to know, "How do I bring more foot traffic in?"
Through the years I have found this is the ironic and erroneous thinking of a lot of business owners. When you are trying to figure out how to grow, one of the first things that come to mind is, "Maybe if I switch my brand up a bit, that'll help people figure out what I do or who I am, and why they need me." Generally, though, that's not the best solution for most people in most situations, yet for some reason, it is the first thing that comes to our head.
Now, let's delve a little bit more into the idea of rebranding. Let's start with what's involved in a rebrand. This is a very large answer, but below are a few points you can think about. With any rebrand, you will need to make sure you are managing your clients and their expectations.
Your business name sets expectations. If Wapiti tomorrow became Dan's Marketing Agency, your clients will be confused from the get-go no matter how much you communicate with them. They're going to get an email from @dansmarketingagency, and they're going to be confused about who it's from and assume it is a scam. The reality is people are used to something, and you're changing it up on them.
Your business logo sets expectations. If you rebrand, more than likely you're going to go with a new logo, and it will probably be substantially different from your existing logo. Now your clientele not only has to get used to your new name but also a new look, which can also include potential color changes. They're basically doing business with a new company even though it's technically the same people behind the helm.
Your business messaging sets expectations. Even if your general services don't change, with a rebrand your messaging does tilt and change. With Wapiti, we're all about shouting your brand. At least that's where the name came from. With that, all of our messaging is around the fact that we help you get your message out. If we change our name to Dan's Marketing Agency, we could use the same messaging, but it doesn't have quite the tie in that it had before.
There are also little things like business cards, flyers, and answering machine or voice mail messages. Any type of print marketing, your website, your emails, etc. are all things that need to be updated and changed. You'll be surprised at how many things have your brand on them when you decide to rebrand. When you make a change, you're going to find that your brand has seeped out a lot more than you thought, and there are going to be things all over the internet and in print that are different than your new brand. I "recently" (a year ago) changed phone numbers; it was a really big undertaking and not the most recommended change. I'm still finding my old phone number all over the place, and I've tried really hard to catch it. You're going to find a whole lot of things like that when changing your brand.
There are times when a rebrand could be a very good marketing approach. If your current brand does not match your company focus, you should rebrand. If Wapiti was purely for non-profits, I should totally rebrand Wapiti because the name Wapiti is not something that appeals to the non-profit world. I would want to rebrand to ensure I was communicating to my audience. There are quite a few brands out there whose brand doesn't really match their focus. They're usually smaller businesses. I'm sure you can think of a business or two that has rebranded, and if you look at them now versus before the rebrand, they're way more targeted onto who they're trying to sell to.
Another reason to rebrand might be if your current brand has baggage. If you have a company that has had something negative attached to it, perhaps you feel it's big enough to where you feel like you have to destruct the current brand image in order to come back ahead of things. Even then, there are some pretty big companies who have undergone some major negative notice, yet they haven't rebranded. They have worked on fixing the brand rather than changing it. That said, there is a valid argument to be made for changing a brand with baggage.
Another good reason to rebrand is when you have multiple businesses merging or an acquisition occurs. This generally becomes a necessity in larger scale businesses. From my past days in the coffee world, there was a local coffee company whose owners were getting out of the business and sold. The gentleman who bought was merging his business into it, so he rebranded his existing business to take on the brand and name of the new one that he purchased. That's a good time to rebrand because you're putting two businesses together, and you're putting all your focus into one unified marketing approach.
My final reason to rebrand might be if you have an old, stodgy brand that needs revitalization. Try to find a way to pep it up and get the brand moving. If you really want to work at getting that brand going, that could be another good opportunity for that.
The list above about when you SHOULD rebrand is certainly not conclusive, nor will this list be either. However, I wanted to pick out a couple of important points.
This first one really speaks to me, because I struggle with this a lot: when you're bored with your brand, business, marketing angle, etc. One thing about myself, and a lot of the entrepreneurs I've talked to, is that no matter how well things are working for you, once you've done it a few times, you start to get really, really bored. That boredom can lead you to make bad decisions in the name of switching things up a bit. So, definitely, do not rebrand just because you're bored with your brand. There is a difference between a stodgy, old brand that needs revitalization and being bored with your brand. If you're bored with your brand, you might need to focus your energy on new growth verticals rather than on changing your brand altogether. If you have positive brand recognition, even if it's small, you will lose that if you rebrand. If you've got something good going, keep working at it. Don't just change things to try to grow, because what you're actually going to do is restart your growth.
Secondly, if you don't have a really specific reason (refer to above reasons to rebrand) that requires you to rebrand, then you're focusing on the wrong thing by thinking rebrand with your organization.
In conclusion, rebranding can actually seriously hurt your business unless you're doing it with a specific purpose or for a specific reason. Don't rebrand your business out of boredom or fear as you'll be starting from step one with your business all over again, so focus on marketing your business. Focus on growth. Don't worry about a rebrand outside of those highly specific reasons I mentioned. Instead, make your current brand as good as it can get.