"Adapt or die." It's a rather cataclysmic phrase, but there's more than a ring of truth to it. All businesses have a lifespan, and the only way to extend the lifetime of your business is to adapt to the market, with your customers, and with the times. In the words of Brian Lischer, Founder and CEO of Ignyte, a branding firm, "Whether you sell lattes to hipsters out of a repurposed Airstream or data analytics to Fortune 100 executives on Wall Street, there is one immutable truth about modern day business: Every company has to rebrand itself at some point."
Here are four tell-tale signs that your company is due for a rebrand:
YOUR BRANDING DOESN'T REFLECT YOUR VISION
It's very likely that what you are doing now isn't exactly what you set out to do when you first started your business. Maybe you made a significant switch in the products and services you provide, so your name, design, and messaging don't line up with your current offerings. Or maybe you made a smaller change by committing to environmental responsibility or aligning your work to a cause.
It's crucial that your branding represents what your business is now, not what it was in the past.
YOU'RE EMBARASSED TO GIVE OUT YOUR BUSINESS CARD
Design preferences change, and what was a totally rad logo in the 90s could be coming off as outdated and lame today. If you're embarrassed to hand out your business card because the design isn't up to today's standards, or you shy away from directing people to your website because it's stuck in the 2000s, you're overdue for a rebrand.
The good news is that if it's just your image that is obsolete, you'll only need to change cosmetic things: the look of your website, your logo, and your brand voice, rather than needing to overhaul your entire identity.
Did you start out catering your business to a particular community or region, but are now reaching (or looking to reach) a larger geographic region? Many companies start out hyper-local, and it works well. A name themed to your area works perfectly when you're just trying to connect with your area, but it can work against you, say, when you're a Guelph-branded business trying to drum up interest in Kingston.
Rebranding may be an adjustment for your local clientele, but it will make your new markets much more receptive to what you have to offer.
YOU'RE HAVING ISSUES ATTRACTING NEW BUSINESS OR TALENT
If you've found yourself on a business-growth plateau, it isn't because you've reached your peak - it's because your current brand has reached the end of its life. Every business has the potential to attract more customers and higher-level talent if they position themselves correctly.
These days, people like to have conversations with businesses rather than being held at arm's length. Think of it as the second-coming of the neighborhood store, even if you are based primarily online. To rebrand, you'll have to focus on three things: brand voice, social media, and web design. Your brand voice needs to be friendly and welcoming (people want to work with people!), your social media presence needs to be authentic and, for most businesses, picture-centric, and your website needs to be clean and crisp without being sterile. Think light on text, high on pictures, and a focus on clear communication in a familiar voice.
So, Should You Rebrand?
Rebranding is a long-term investment, and it can be very intimidating. "Your brand is the foundation for all your other marketing and messaging strategies," writes Jayson DeMers, Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, "That's not a level of impact to trifle with."
That isn't a reason to stall, though. If you're nervous about rebranding, remember that it can be done smoothly if it is also done thoughtfully. Just be sure to let your community know changes are coming so that they aren't caught off-guard, go into the process with clearly articulated goals and seriously consider hiring a pro to direct the process. And remember, it's not all or nothing. A few tweaks can do as much as a total overhaul, so don't be afraid to take your time.