47: The Most Common Rebranding Mistake Small Businesses Make

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If you’re going to spend money in your business, rebranding is one of the most enjoyable things you can do. Unfortunately the emotional thrill of a new look can distract from the foundational work that needs to be done—before the creative—to ensure your rebrand provides an ROI.

On this episode, I share:

  • Reasons you might be ready to rebrand,

  • What the typical process of working with a designer misses,

  • 15+ questions you need to be prepared to answer,

  • Steps you can take to protect your investment, and

  • The first question to ask yourself if you’re committing to a rebrand this year.

WHAT’S INVOLVED IN A REBRAND?

Right before the holidays, I had a prospective client reach out ready to rebrand. She came to me through a personal referral and while I was thrilled she reached out, I wasn’t exactly sure she had a handle on how I work with clients.

When most people say “rebrand,” they mean an updated visual brand identity and—many times—a new website.

They aren’t necessarily thinking about the strategy that happens before that creative work.

And who can blame us? Rebranding is one of the most enjoyable things you can spend your money on in business. Designers often become our friends and who doesn’t love playing with colors, textures, and new graphics?

What we don’t realize is that this excitement can quickly wear off, with the rebrand sweeping us in over our head. When we get overwhelmed, it’s easy to defer to our designer or make decisions based on our personal preference.

This isn’t bad per se. That is, unless you’re looking to get a different result from your rebrand efforts. That means things like:

  • Better conversion.

  • A change in your reputation.

  • Attracting higher caliber clientele.

 

If you’re rebranding in part because of these goals, you’ve got to step back.

REASONS TO REBRAND

The most important place to begin with any rebrand is with the question: What is the goal with your rebrand?

There are plenty of good reasons to enter a rebrand.

You might feel like your brand is outdated. Maybe it’s been 5-10 years since you updated your visual identity and it’s stale.

Maybe your brand no longer fits. All businesses evolve and it’s common for brands to lag a bit behind that evolution.

It’s also possible that you feel like your brand looks the same as everyone else in your industry. While there are benefits to branding yourself to your industry, it also makes it difficult to stand out from others when doing so.

Lastly, maybe your brand is sending the wrong message. You might not see this as clearly as someone new to you, but it’s possible if you haven’t been intentional with the message you’re sending, your brand is sending a message you don’t intend to send.

Whatever your reason for rebranding, there’s a process you can come to expect when reaching out to a designer. Here’s what happens when 99% of small businesses approach a rebrand:

  1. You find designers whose aesthetic you like.

  2. You meet with a handful of designers on the phone or Zoom.

  3. Decide on your favorite. Sign the contract and make your deposit.

  4. Fill out a brand questionnaire.

  5. The creative begins!

 

Seems efficient enough, right?

THE BRANDING QUESTIONNAIRE

I know you’ve filled out a branding questionnaire before. Maybe even your designer has called this a brand strategy.

What you might not have expected is the level of detail and confidence in direction you need when it comes to this questionnaire. 

Here are some things you often need to know before your designer gets started:

 

What do you hope to accomplish with your rebrand?

Why does your company exist?

What does it stand for?

Mission and vision statement?

Brand bio?

What’s the story or meaning behind your name?

Niche? Position in the marketplace?

Why does someone choose to hire you over your competitors?

Describe your ideal client. What problems do you solve for them? What keeps them up at night?

What do you want them to do when they get to your site?

What’s your brand personality?

What do you want to retain with your rebrand or site? What do you want to get rid of — and why?

Describe your visual inspiration in 5 words.

What pages do you want on your site and how do you want them set up with the navigation?

 

This list could on on and get more detailed, but this is the basis for what you should expect to know going in.

It’s A LOT.

I say this not to scare you, but rather to let you know that in a rebrand, one step builds on the last. You can’t change your mind 3 weeks or 7 weeks in. And if you’re bringing in a copywriter, photographer, or other creative support, you need a roadmap that’s going to keep everyone on the same page.

A REBRAND STRATEGY

If you’ve read this far and are still thinking, “Yep, I’m ready for this rebrand,” it’s imperative you begin with a strong foundation.

So how do you get there?

The first thing I want you to do is start with evaluating what you have. What isn’t working with your current brand? What do you want to change?

Then ask yourself how that lines up within your industry and outside of your industry.

Once you’ve evaluated your own goals, it’s time to look at your business from your audience’s perspective.

Gather all of the feedback you’ve gotten from customers—from inquiry forms to customer surveys to emails. What cues are your customers giving you about how they see your business and the void you fill? Ask yourself what the themes are and how these need to be centered in your design.

Then it’s time to pull this information into a central strategy. Polish up your brand bio. Define your values. List your differentiators. This information is going to be gold for your designer to understand your brand and point of view, allowing them to create a brand home that looks and feels like you.

The last piece you need to tackle—before hiring your designer—is your messaging and copywriting. This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation since it’s helpful to know the design layout before writing copy, but design frameworks often rely on the type and amount of information you want to convey.

You should at least have a solid draft of all of your website and collateral copy for your designer to review before they begin your proofs.

START GATHERING INSPO NOW!

The last thing I want you to do is informed by my recent rebrand experience.

I want you to start gathering visual inspiration for your brand immediately. Even if you’re not planning for a rebrand currently, a file of inspiration will come in handy when you do. 

In my rebrand, my designer asked for three sites I loved. I wasn’t prepared at all for this. So I spent a few hours looking around at sites and found three that were pretty enough.

What I didn’t realize is that these sites would lay the foundation for her creative vision. She based design decisions on these sites. Had I known that I probably would have put much more thought and intention into this step.

If you’re rebranding this year, I’m thrilled for you! Following these tips will allow you to have a consistent outcome, make rational—not emotional—decisions on your decision, provide an objective direction for your brand based on what your customers need to see, and cover all of the details in such a massive project so you don’t miss anything.

Remember: I’m here to support you. The benefit of working with someone like me is that you can do this process right the first time and leave it. And trust me, once you’re knee deep, the luster starts to wear off.

If you’re interested in speaking about your needs—even if it’s just customer research—let’s talk.