How to rebrand a small business
There are many reasons to rebrand your business. A distinctive, effective rebrand comes from three magic ingredients: purpose, process, and people.
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Brand identity is the special sauce of your business that sets you apart from every other Tom, Dick and Harry, Inc. on the block. And your brand identity design? It’s what shapes your company.
A rebrand must be intentional, done with a clarity of purpose, and connected to the strategy and vision for the business. Although there is usually one main reason for making a change, the motivation behind a rebrand project is often a combination of several factors.
Some common situations that call for a business rebrand:
- Change of ownership
- Market expansion
- Negative publicity
- Outdated brand image
While the rationale varies, the fundamental process remains the same for a rebranding project:
- Create a brief: Get clarity on the purpose, the stakeholders involved, how decisions get made, and what is in and out of scope for the rebrand. Be sure to clearly state the outcomes you hope to achieve, any deliverables produced should be in service of them.
- Understand the business: Become fluent in the context of the business and brands. Know the competitive landscape, the pressures facing the business, how money is made, how customers experience the brand, and what’s been done in the past. Don’t try to be an expert, just do the homework and be empathetic.
- Align on the problems to solve: Establish a shared view of the challenges facing the business and brand, why they exist, and the opportunities unlocked when those problems are solved. Not every problem can be addressed, so pick the few that matters most to your audience.
- Search for inspiration: Go outside of your office, your category, your comfort zone, your budget, and time constraints. Create collages, quote boards, and other things that provoke, inspire or excite you. Great work is seldom conceived and delivered exclusively within the four walls of an office.
- Select a creative direction: Using both inspiration and business context, assemble a range of creative directions that visualise the “look and feel” of a new brand. This is meant to show different solutions to problems facing the brand. Creative directions are starting points, not answers.
- Create multiple brand directions: Equipped with clarity on the creative direction that will guide the design of the brand, reimagine both its visual and verbal expressions. Create only as many directions as are necessary to reflect meaningful trade-offs.
- Select and prototype a single brand direction: Revise and finalise a single brand direction by applying it to relevant and current use cases for the brand (e.g. marketing campaigns, sales deck, social media posts)
- Launch the new brand into the world: The launch of a new brand ties back to the purpose set at the start of the work. Make a big splash if that’s what’s required, or be subtle if the noisiness of change is disruptive. When launching, consider all the places and spaces your brand shows up online, in-store, in-product, etc.
Even the most finely tuned process is still only as good as the people in it. A balance of insiders, outsiders, experts, and generalists yields the greatest end product. Diversity over homogeneity every time.
Rebranding is not a process to be undertaken lightly. Whatever brand image you already have, whether intentional or not, has business value. However rebranding can be a powerful tool for small businesses that are looking for ways to grow their customer base and stay relevant in the market. A fresh approach and a new look can often re-engage customers while helping firms expand into new markets.
So what are you waiting for? If you’ve figured out your brand needs a makeover, take the plunge and make a difference to your business.