For many business owners, getting started means going lean: doing more work yourself rather than hiring, working out of a home office or garage, cutting costs wherever possible. Often, this includes branding. You might have a clear idea of what you want your brand to be, but don’t feel it’s the time to invest in it. So you offer a small cash prize for a logo, or ask a friend for a favor. And while that worked for you in the beginning, it may no longer represent the image you’d like for your company.
Project RE:Brand offers a behind-the-scenes look as five small businesses are paired with five creative agencies to help them re-examine and reinvigorate their brands. If you’ve thought rebranding wasn’t feasible or worthwhile, watch this series.
The new OPEN Mic Podcast: Branding features Monocle editor Tyler Brûlé talking with one of the businesses' co-founders and the agency who worked with them. He also speaks with branding experts Alina Wheeler and Steve Manning on what small business owners should know about defining and communicating the values of their business. I hope that as you listen (or watch the webisode series), you’ll take away some key insights:
- The importance of brand assessment. Even if you aren’t currently thinking about rebranding, you should evaluate how well your brand is working for you. In many cases, business owners think their brand is conveying the right message, but an objective, external point of view, particularly from customers, can provide a different, even eye-opening, perspective. As Iris Schreier, co-founder of Artyarns, said after getting such feedback, “We just assumed that the product spoke for itself.” You can start with these 10 questions from our branding experts.
- It’s not all or nothing. While the small businesses in the series undergo full rebranding, it doesn’t mean that you would necessarily need to. As Alina, author of Designing Brand Identity, says in the podcast, “Rebranding isn’t always ripping everything apart and starting from scratch. It’s always being cognizant of what your competitors are doing, and then making some really smart decisions about how you can receive a higher return on your efforts, to revitalize and rebrand. Sometimes rebranding means changing your name… Sometimes it means that you provide a really exciting experience at the retail level, and then when your customers go to your website, there’s a huge disconnect.” Perhaps you just need to revamp your online experience.
- Rebranding is not something to rush into. The podcast and webisode series can help you ask the right questions and evaluate if it’s time for a rebrand. Maybe you need to first solidify your mission statement, as I talked about in a previous article, “Why Are You In Business?” And Stephan Boublil of The Apartment offers these 10 tips for maximizing your time and budget with an agency.
- It’s not too late to rebrand. As Alina says in the podcast (paraphrasing George Eliot), “It is never too late to be what you could have been.” You may think that your brand is already too established, that rebranding would risk recognition amongst the existing customer base. But communication and customer service can bring your customers with you; they may even enjoy being part of the process. The goal is not to change your brand, but to better align it with your mission. Doing that should strengthen rather than weaken the relationships they have with your brand.
I’d love to know what you think about Project RE:Brand, and if if you have branding insights you’d like to share. Add your thoughts below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.