The world runs on stories. Everybody knows that, these days, whether you run a business or just like to put your best face forward on Instagram. If you do run a business, you know that your brand story is crucial. Who you seem to be is who you are, and if your brand doesn't align with your clientele's experience of your business, you could be in trouble.
Luckily, a brand is not a one-and-done kind of thing. It can grow and change with your business. And it's something any business can do, at any stage. It's simply about evaluating who you are vs. who you say you are, and re-directing your story to match.
Wondering if you need to rebrand? Ask yourself these questions.
A rebrand isn't going to fix all your problems. Your evaluation of your brand might show you're still on point there, and actually have some issues elsewhere. If you really want to know if a rebrand is right for you, answer these questions.
Who are you?
Have you changed your focus? Maybe you started out running an online sporting goods store. But these days, most of your sales come from skateboards and their accessories. If you've decided to focus more on those skateboards, and less on running shoes and fishing rods, a rebrand will serve you well.
What do you do?
Your charming little cafe may have started life with aspirations of Parisian grandeur, but maybe these days it's a little more like Cheers, a hometown place where everyone knows your name. If what you do now differs from what you did then, the specials ads you run aren't the only thing you'll need to change. A rebrand is in order.
Who do you serve?
As your business grows, you may come to be a better fit with a new type of client than you've worked with in the past. A rebrand is an acknowledgement of this. When telling your story, always focus on who you want to be talking to now.
9 steps to (re)building a better brand
So you've asked and answered the above questions, and you feel a rebrand is crucial to keep your business moving forward. But where to start? What, really, do you need to do to tell your story in a new or better way? These nine steps will walk you through the process.
1. Question everything.
Step one is always to look at where you are, now, and what story you're telling to the world. This includes not only your website, but every online and print media where your business has a presence. Take the time you need to sift through these materials. While you do, ask yourself, Who does my business seem to be? And, Is that who we still are today, and who we want to be tomorrow?
Businesses, like people, grow and change. Staying on top of your brand is essential to making sure you still are who you say you are, and still do what you say you do. Nothing is more jarring for a client than to have certain expectations based on your brand, only to be disappointed when she actually interacts with you.
2. Talk to current clients, listen to the competition.
Don't be afraid to interview or conduct surveys with your existing clientele. Ask for their honest thoughts on your business and its brand, how one aligns (or doesn't) with their experience of the other. This informs your answer to "Are we who we were when we started?" and can show you in which directions you've moved that your brand has yet to reflect.
Once you figure this part out, start looking at other businesses doing what you now do, and see how they're talking about themselves. Like talking to your clients, don't be afraid to learn from and be inspired by the way other businesses tell their stories.
3. Find your (new and improved) USP.
Your unique selling point is the answer to any potential client's inevitable question, Why should I do business with you? Your brand needs to communicate that why, showing who you are, what you do and how you differ from the competition (take a look at your mission statement or write a new one).
When deciding between two companies providing the same service, potential clients are often swayed to go with the one they personally relate to. So if you've developed an awesome stance on prioritizing your employees' job satisfaction, let the world know, make that part of your story. It could be the very thing that books you your next client.
4. Decide who you want to talk to, today.
Are the clients you're booking today still the same kind you booked when you began? By now, you've probably found a niche or two you didn't even know about way back when. Yet these days the majority of your clientele are coming from those very areas. Part of rebranding your business is making sure you're talking to those newer clients as directly, and effectively, as you can.
Just as having a brand story that doesn't jive with a customer's experience of your business can be a detriment, having a story that accurately reflects who you are can be a biz bonanza. Putting an honest story out into the world helps you attract perfect-for-you clientele. And it will inform smarter marketing and advertising techniques moving forward, as well.
5. Tell a better story.
How you tell your story (hello, personal branding!) is as important as the story itself. Look at your media and the brand it projects on the level of language and tone. Do you really know who you are? Have you been telling your story in the best way possible?
Chances are good that if you're considering a rebrand, the idea has been in the back of your mind for a while. Chances are also good that this sense of disconnection between your story and your business has begun to creep into your media, especially your social media. Go back through your posts and really look at how you've been talking, and who you've been talking to. Take note of those instances when you slipped off-brand from your old story. They could reveal the direction in which you've already been wanting to move.
6. Tell the world who you are, today
A business' culture can also evolve over time. Let's go back to the example of you placing a value on employee satisfaction. Perhaps when you started, your staff was all energetic up-and-comers, with the time and stamina to pull all-nighters, going all out to meet tight deadlines and turnarounds. Your brand no doubt reflected this.
Now, though, those same employees are buying houses and starting families. Their priorities have changed, and so yours have too. Let your brand reflect this. If you're no longer the go-to for last minute, high stakes projects, why waste time still talking to clients who want just that? There's someone better for you to be telling your story to.
7. Make your plan, and stay on point.
Content may be king, but consistent content is emperor supreme. Because you don't just have a website. You have Facebook and Instagram, print ads and signage. Part of a successful rebrand is refreshing every aspect of your media, every avenue by which you talk to potential clientele. Crucial to effective rebranding is making sure it really is a sweeping change. You can't let a single media platform wallow. It will negate all the work you're doing bringing your brand back up to speed.
8. Put your plan into action all at once.
Once you settle on a new story, a new way of speaking, even a new look, make sure you're ready to institute that change across all your media at the same. Before you launch a new logo, for example, check out the way it looks on a laptop, on a cell phone. Even that teeny little picture beside your name on every Instagram post. Everything should work and, more, it should feel good. It should feel like it shows who you are, now.
Don't make these changes in a piecemeal fashion, either. Refresh your story and launch it, everywhere, at once. Like being consistent, efficiency is a key ingredient to the successful rebrand. Everywhere a potential client looks, you want them to see the new and improved you.
9. Toot your own horn.
Rebranding equals re-launching, so treat it like a grand re-opening. A rebrand doesn't have to be something you do in secret, by any means. Let your marketing plan involve talking about the new you, what changes you've made and why. After all, the whole point of a rebrand is to help the clients you really want find you. Don't be afraid to do a little horn-tooting along the way.
A rebrand of your business is work, but it doesn't have to be scary. It can even be energizing. Think of it as a way to refresh your momentum, as well as your image. To get your business moving in a better, more clarified direction.
The biggest perk of all? Rebranding reminds you that you have control over your image. You're the one telling your story. You get to define you.