You started a business a few years ago, maybe just testing the waters. When just starting ‘marketing budget’ is not in your vocabulary, but know you need basic tools like a website and business cards. So, you get them done inexpensively. Okay, that was sugar-coated: as cheap as possible and written yourself.
That’s the best way to go when starting, not just for financial reasons, but also because many new entrepreneurs aren’t set on what their brand should be, what they stand for, who their ideal clients are. How could they be – they haven’t really done anything yet. I know, I’ve been there.
I’ve Been There Too.
Flash forward a few years: after time in a cocoon your business has matured, your competitive advantage is becoming apparent, you know who your favourite clients are – the ones you want more of. At this point in my own business I began to feel embarrassed by the tools I had. While I had no real plan when I started Faith Seekings Design, I never imagined how much I’d grow. A name based on my own made me sound small by then. Plus, my name is just weird.
In order for me to grow a business that didn’t depend on me, I needed to rebrand. With the help of two great guys and some close friends we went through three sessions that eventually landed us a new name – Rapport – and tagline based on what makes us special. And my new website was written by a pro.
The Most Common Form of Rebrand: the Evolution
Think of it like a caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly. I rebranded again 1.5 years later – though this time only an evolution of the look and language to something more sophisticated, as our client-base was shifting from micro-businesses to mid-sized.
Even seemingly long-lasting, never changing brands like Coca Cola evolve at least slightly over the years to stay modern looking. It’s more than just look – messaging as well. Does your brand resonate with your ideal client?
Two Great Milestones to Rebrand By
First, once you’ve been in business long enough and have some experience under your belt you can seriously tackle your competitive advantage. Chances are what you’ve been saying so far is what everyone else says. By now there are real experiences, processes and great case studies to draw a true differentiator from. How you do what you say makes you different often becomes what makes you different. We use the Essential Message method to uncover this and the result is often something the client does so naturally and easily they don’t even realize they’re doing it or how important it is. If you figure this out, it should become the basis of all your messaging and marketing tools.
Another great time to rebrand is when you focus or refocus on your ideal client. If, for example, you start out serving small businesses but change your focus to larger, your approach would have to change. With small businesses it’s all about the relationship, trust and budget, where bigger businesses are more about the bottom line and want to feel secure that you can handle their project. Your look and messaging should go from fun and approachable or cheap and cheerful to established and sophisticated. Again, does your brand resonate with your ideal client?
Do I have to redo everything?
In short, yes.
Everything you or your team uses to represent the company to the outside world – not just your clients but colleagues and suppliers – should represent at the very least where you are now and ideally, where you intend to be in the near future. They should all be consistent in look and message, but also quality. This includes everything from the way the company is introduced, explaining what you do and what makes you different to the website to the printed materials, to the Twitter page and message style.
You can, of course, plan it out over a period of time. But, think of it as an ‘all-inclusive marketing approach’ to make it all work better together.