Successfully rebranding a small business is no mean feat – there are many aspects to consider and pitfalls to avoid. Still, creating a brand identity which resonates better with your audience is a monumental boon to business operation, which makes all the effort worth it.
While rebranding a small business certainly is a challenging task, there are ways to make it easier. One of the best ways is to learn from the mistakes of others. Certain rebranding errors tend to crop up much more frequently than others, and avoiding them will go a long way toward ensuring your rebranding efforts are successful from start to finish.
Whether you believe it’s time for your small business to go through a brand refresh or a comprehensive rebranding, steer clear of the following mistakes.
Changing the Name for No Good Reason
Probably the most dramatic rebranding measure you can take is to change the name. But, such a drastic change can hurt you if you don’t have a proper reason for it. If you’re just bored of the old name, you’ll get bored of the new one as well – the novelty will wear off, and you won’t have achieved anything.
Even more importantly, a name change is useless if you don’t fix the underlying problems which caused you to consider the change in the first place. If you simply try to mask them, your clients will see through it.
Still, a name change can work. For instance, Google’s search engine initially went by the name “BackRub”, and it is highly debatable whether the company would have grown into what it is today had the name not been changed.
So, if your name creates confusion or doesn’t differentiate you from your competitors, it’s good to change it. The same is true if it’s too closely connected to a single product but you’ve since expanded. Otherwise, you should probably look elsewhere.
In essence, the best names are those which are tied to an interesting story related to your company. To go back to Google’s example, that term is a play on words which symbolizes the incredible amount of information its users can access. If your brand name can already achieve something similar, then there’s probably no need to change it and your rebranding efforts should focus on other areas.
2. Rebranding Only Your Logo and Website
Your logo and website are the most important visual representations of your brand. However, a brand is a lot more than just that – it is the overall experience a customer gets from interacting with you. For that reason, changing the aesthetics without going deeper will not provide the desired results.
Similar to the previous point – a change needs to be comprehensive and meaningful to succeed. So, if a brand is struggling with customer service, a fresh logo and a shiny new website won’t do much good if people still can’t get the support they need.
3. Sacrificing Simplicity to Appear More Interesting
A good logo doesn’t need to be minimalistic, although quite a few are (Nike, for example). However, a logo can rely on simplicity without being too basic, and that is often a winning combination.
For that reason, it is often a bad idea to do away with simplicity for the sake of appearing more interesting. Kraft is a good example of this. Of course, Kraft is hardly a small business, but it is an excellent example as it shows that companies of all sizes can fall victim to this mistake. When Kraft introduced a starburst logo, the reception was so poor that the company decided to continue using its simpler logo with slight modifications.
4. Following the Herd
When it comes to branding, it is not difficult to understand why companies would follow the most popular trends. It’s a matter of going with what works. However, that also makes it very difficult to stand out and attract new customers.
Instead, the ideal solution is to find a unique voice for your brand. Something that sets you apart. Whole Foods is a good example, even though it’s not a small business. It is a huge national chain which doesn’t treat itself that way. It focuses on thought leadership, sharing ideas, being healthy, and eco-friendly (they moved away from plastic bags more than a decade ago).
This is the blueprint to follow when rebranding your business – it needs to be different from the rest.
5. Not Having a Well-organized Timeline for the Rebranding Process
This is an organizational matter, but it’s important. The truth is, a rebrand will have a major impact on your day-to-day operations. And if you don’t establish a reasonable timeline to follow, things can get very complicated; costs can spiral out of control and your regular business can suffer.
An organized schedule can keep your efforts on track and ensure the rebranding goes in the direction it’s supposed to.
For example, choosing a new logo can feel like going down the rabbit hole – there is always something you could add or subtract to make it a tiny bit better. And if you don’t have a project plan, this can be never-ending.
But, if your logo isn’t done on time, you can’t print your promo material. You can’t finalize any other content which includes the logo (which will be just about anything). Then, you do things at the last minute, you work overtime, etc. All of this costs extra and prevents you from focusing on other affairs.
The solution is a good timeline – you have a final date for the logo, after which you move onto other tasks and don’t touch it anymore. The same applies to all other aspects of the rebranding process.
6. Not Having a Brand Style Guide
Finally, a brand style guide will help your new company identity take root. In essence, this is a set of guidelines explaining the ins and outs of your brand and how your brand needs to look like in various offline and online media. This guide will establish your company’s tone of voice, cover the use of the logo, typography, imagery, and more.
During a rebrand, a reference point like this is invaluable. Without one, your new image can be inconsistent, which will significantly diminish the effects of rebranding.
Branding Basics for Small Businesses
The above mistakes are one side of the equation. Below are the steps you should take to enjoy the benefits of successful branding and rebranding.
Step 1. Be Clear on the Reason
The first step is to determine the issues the rebrand is supposed to address. Reach out to your customers and see what you need to change.
Step 2. Determine the Scope
You may need a total rebranding, but it is also possible a smaller brand refresh will do. This is closely connected to the previous point, and you need to know this in advance.
Step 3. Create a Plan
As mentioned, a timeline is crucial for a successful rebranding. In addition, make sure to also calculate the costs so you’ll be prepared.
Step 4. Test and Market the Rebrand
Once the rebranding is done, see what people think about it before launching it in full. Once you’re happy with the reception, make sure to market your rebrand and show everyone what has changed.These are a few basic steps to take, and The Ultimate Guide to Rebranding Your Business can offer further insight.
Be Wary of Common Rebranding Mistakes
Every endeavor has its risks, and rebranding is no different. Fortunately, some mistakes are more common than others, meaning you can anticipate them. And once you’re armed with this knowledge, rebranding a small business becomes a less daunting task.