Branding communicates to your audience, compelling them to understand what your business is all about while building your reputation and setting you apart from others. A brand has to be authentic and showcase a personality that people are attracted to and trust. And any brand, small or large, doesn't have much time to convey their brand message to the world.
When potential customers view your website, do they get a sense of who you are? When Facebook fans see a new post from you, do they instantly recognize it as yours? Do you have an edge over your competition? Is your brand communication consistently presented?
If your answers are “I don't know” or “Not really” to the above questions, then it may be time to re-define your brand! Re-branding is not an easy decision to make nor is it an easy one to execute. To help, I've created this short guide which includes 6 steps to re-branding your small business in order to learn how to make your brand work for you.
The first step in re-branding your business is to analyzing your current branding. What do you like about your website, products, and services? Where do you think you can improve? What do customers like about your brand and your products?
Look at yourself and your business with new eyes. What do customers see when they first visit your page? What values does your business exude?
Finally, take a look at your numbers. Who purchases the most of your services? Is it who you thought it was? For example, Old Spice went through a re-branding in 2010 when they realized that 60% of those who purchase their men's body wash were actually women! Thus, the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign began with huge success.
Takeaway: Analyze why re-branding could have a positive impact on your small business and what benefits a change could make.
In order to re-brand, you need to figure out who your customer is and what they want. Basically, you need to give them what they are looking for. Show them that what you offer is different from other businesses.
Recognize that re-branding your small business isn't simply about creating different graphics or switching up the logo and calling it a day. It's digging deeper than that into the core of what makes you a business.
Do you remember Radio Shack? Back in 2009, they spent millions of dollars changing their name from Radio Shack to “The Shack” with a negative kickback from the public. Why? Because all they did was change their name. Nothing else changed about the company, essentially confusing their customers and ruining their already diminishing reputation.
Takeaway: Recognize the negative impact a directionless re-branding campaign could have and ensure that any changes serve a purpose to your target market.
Brainstorming is my favorite step in the re-branding process. Actually, I pretty much like brainstorming about anything… Monday night dinner, my reading list, and future beach-filled vacations. I naturally keep a running tally of these things in my Evernote so that I can turn to my amazing ideas when I need them.
A fun way to brainstorm, especially if you're creatively inclined, is to create a mood board! Websites like Pinterest make collecting your thoughts easy and entertaining. Simply create a private board and fill it with anything that you think relates to your brand. It can be colors, images, symbols, other websites, artwork, inspiration quotes – the sky is the limit.
Another great way to stretch your creativity a bit is to brainstorm words that relate to your brand. Focus on the impressions that you want users to have when they see, hear, and read about your business. For example, when I re-branded Onlinedrea.com, I wanted to evoke feelings along the lines of: feminine, confident, aesthetically pleasing, girly, bold, sweet, and creative. Use a thesaurus if you have to and make a list of 50 words, narrowing them down once you're done.
Takeaway: Brainstorm in a concrete fashion to keep track of all the possible changes you'd like to make to your brand.
Now, take everything you've brainstormed and hire a professional to assist you in creating your brand identity. This is a step you can DIY if you know what you're doing; however getting help from a professional can save much needed time, resources, and creativity.
If you're not sure where to start, here are a few branding and design professionals that I admire:
Laura James Studio
The Nectar Collective
In the “create” step, look for opportunities to introduce the new elements you analyzed, recognized, and brainstormed while also maintaining the ones that really matter to your brand and customers. Make sure your brand has room to grow and evolve naturally as time goes on.
One of the ways I concluded my “create” stage was to create a brand guide. After I decided what I wanted things to look like, I added my logo, colors, fonts, and branding items to this sheet in Canva. This sort of branding cheat sheet will help with any content you produce in the future. This way, anything else that you create for your business going forward is on brand.
Don't forget to also create a written template for your branding guide. This can include items like short & long descriptions and about information derived from your brainstorming session. Here are my examples:
Social Media Manager & Content Writer for Creative Entrepreneurs
Online Presence Management for Creatives
Happily serving creative entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Takeaway: Create a visual & written template that encompasses your brand aspects in such a way that it can be easily repeated across all platforms.
Gather the items you've created and edit them into your current infrastructure. From the website to social media sites to business cards, incorporate the visual items from your branding template to ensure that branding is consistent across platforms. Different forms of promotion have different sizing and formatting requirements. Consider the following design elements:
- Profile Picture
- Email Signature
- Facebook Cover Photo
- Twitter Cover Photo
- LinkedIn cover Photo
- Google+ Cover Photo
- YouTube Cover Photo
- Business Card Design
Takeaway: Publish consistent branding content across all platforms as an effective method of communicating with your audience and maintaining your brand reputation.
Depending on the level of re-branding you complete for your brand, you'll want to either slowly transition the new elements in or start them all at once. Either way, make sure your audience is ready and excited for the upcoming changes. Make sure you create a game plan for when things will launch, covering all the bases from who will create your new website to who will change the Facebook cover photo.
Along the way, build the anticipation with your current fans by showcasing the exciting changes occurring. Give a sneak peek to your mailing list or in-store customers. Encourage feedback. Identify key influencers in your niche and encourage participation from them by creating a contest or giving away products.
In 2012, Holiday Inn revamped their branding to focus on the young independent business traveler instead of the family group by adding business centers, renovating their hotels, and re-creating their logo. To share their new brand, they cross-promoted on Facebook and Twitter, even creating a Tumblr page for the brand. Lastly, they utilized comedians like Jim Gaffigan to launch their “Stay Smart” video campaign, using comedy to draw in their target audience.
Takeaway: Announce your re-branding in such a way that your audience anticipates the changes with enthusiasm and excitement.
There you have it! My short guide that includes my re-branding steps for your small business. I hope that these tips will teach you how to make your brand work for you. If you have a question or you wish to share your own re-branding experiences, leave a comment below!
Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.