The power of a brand is easy to see in big names such as Coca Cola, GE, and Disney. But small businesses can use branding to stand out against the competition and gain loyalty too.
If your brand is weak, confusing, outdated, or suffering an image problem, a rebranding might be in order. Be forewarned, however, that rebranding can be expensive and time consuming, says Nate Holmes, a brand management expert with Widen Enterprises, a marketing technology company that powers the content that builds brands for organizations of all sizes. Messing with a solid brand is also risky: You could lose all of the brand equity you’ve built over the years.
Holmes offers these tips for small businesses that want to leverage the power of a rebrand without damaging their good name.
1. Identify the problem. “Before you commit to a rebrand, make sure you’re addressing a problem and not just a symptom,” Holmes says. “A logo and typeface update won’t address the fact that people think you have terrible service. You’ll just have a nicer looking logo for people to share while they bash your customer service.”
2. Commit to the rebrand and go. “Once your team has identified your brand’s problem and what needs to be changed—whether it’s your brand promise, visual identity, or brand differentiation—commit to the rebrand and move ahead,” Homes says. He has seen many rebranding projects stall and fail. “Rebranding can be exciting. It’s an opportunity to better connect and serve your customers. Use that momentum to carry you forward,” he advises.
3. Get stakeholder buy-in. “You don’t want to get to the point of launching your rebrand and having it stopped by a key decision maker,” Holmes says. “Make sure you’ve got all the right people on board to make it happen.” But be selective. “Too many people, opinions, and schedules will slow down the process.”
4. Keep it moving. Holmes suggests sharing ideas early to keep energy and excitement about your rebrand high. “Help the team and stakeholders visualize the change. It’s exciting to see original ideas start to take form. Be sure to capture the initial reactions to the first sight of your new branding concepts.”
5. Deliberate honestly. Holmes speaks from experience when he says that the first round of branding is never the last round. Early ideas will inspire a variety of reactions, opinions, and ideas. “Even if you like the first draft, it’s good to have two or more rounds of design and feedback to really fine tune,” he says. “But once you finalize the branding, commit to it long term.”
6. Plan the transition. You’ve finalized your new brand? You’re just getting started. Now you need a plan to implement it. Holmes says leaders need to help the organization understand and live the new brand promise. “Plan who changes what and when for your new visual identity.”
7. Execute everywhere. Update your small business’s new brand to all forms of communication: website, email templates, social media, print materials, corporate swag, signage, brand identity materials, and partner materials. “There also might be intangible changes like how you talk about your company and its offerings,” Holmes says. “Make the update swiftly so you aren’t communicating conflicting branding at the same time.”
8. Spread the word. Holmes says it’s crucial that a business communicate its new branding internally and externally. “Everyone in your company needs know how to properly represent the brand, he says. “It’s also important to show off your new brand to the world, or your surrounding community if you’re a local operation.”