Most of us, when we first start out in business, usually have very specific goals for what we want to accomplish and the work we want to be known for. We begin building a brand around that initial vision, pouring in our blood, sweat, and tears to make it successful. We put up that web site, drop that logo on our business cards, and craft messaging that would make your English teacher weep (sometimes with joy, often with confusion.) And we’re content with what we’ve built…for a while. Until we begin to realize that our business is changing—and it may be time for our brand to follow.
Almost every great brand has had to undergo some type of re-branding over the course of its lifetime in order to keep up with trends and changing consumer preferences. Fortunately, the web has made it much easier to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on your industry—it’s up to you to ensure your brand doesn’t get left behind. As we gear up for the coming year, it’s the perfect time to take a good look at your business and determine if you’re due for a brand makeover.
In my almost 20 years of helping to transform brands, I’ve found that your business is due for a (sometimes extreme) brand makeover when:
1. They’ve established a niche in their industry and want to speak to a more targeted audience. This usually happens when you start out taking on any and every project that will keep the lights on, help make payroll, and build awareness for your brand. However, as you continue growing, you begin to realize that you prefer working on certain types of projects over others, or engaging with certain types of clients/customers over others. You start building your expertise in that area—only to find that your branding and messaging no longer adequately portray your newfound niche. Yup…it may be time for that makeover to help match your message to your mission. The last thing you want to do is stick with what you’ve already got; it will confuse your target audience and possibly turn off a potential new business.
2. On the opposite end: They’ve broadened their product and service offerings and want to expand their market share. I’ve been there. And you probably have too. You start out offering one product or service to your clients and customers and, next thing you know, they’re requesting other options from you because they trust you can deliver. What may have begun as a one-person design shop has grown into a full-fledged 50-person advertising firm. Or maybe you started out remodeling bathrooms and have now become the premier commercial builder in your area with a 200-person staff. Whatever the case, it’s clear that you’ve outgrown your brand. What you have now no longer speaks to what you’ve become, or where you want to go. The same holds true for personal brands. Decide if it’s time to invest in your business to ensure your brand accurately represents your growing vision.
3. They’ve realized that they’ve had the same “look” for far too long—it’s outdated and makes the organization look like it’s still from the Flintstone era (or not far from it). Here’s the thing about creating a brand that will stand the test of time: at its core, it should be timeless. The way you build brand equity into your bottom line is to invest in a well-built brand and tweak it as go (if needed), while maintaining its essence. Think Nike, Coke, Apple, and Starbucks. But sometimes, through no fault of your own, you inherit an organizational brand that has no essence. So you have to create it. Hence the need for a makeover. Done right, it’s one of the best investments you will ever make in the future of your business.
Just remember, as you determine whether or not it’s time for an extreme brand makeover, your brand is not just your logo; it’s everything that makes up the public’s perception of who you are and what you stand for. I like to simply say that your brand is your reputation. Make sure you’re peeling back the internal layers to get to the heart of who you are a business. Get clear about your message, mission, vision, and audience—and then start building (or re-building) a phenomenal brand that will stand the test of time.
If you’ve lost business due to brand confusion, or are going through a major transition in your business contact me to find out more about how I can help you cut through the confusion and gain clarity about your brand. This article originally appeared on www.boldandfearless.me.