Do things feel stale with your small business? Is your product or service still attracting customers and generating growth or has business flattened out, or worse yet, declined? Every now and then, no matter the size or type of business, a revaluation of your brand, messaging and logo may be in order. This refresh can either be a tweaking or full rebranding. Even today’s powerhouses like McDonald’s, Apple and Walmart have gone through the process of rebranding, and the changes that they've implemented have made them even stronger companies today. For instance, Apple's iconic logo may not have changed much, but the company has shifted its focus and finessed its branding numerous time to great effect.
So what are the steps that you should take to reinvigorate your brand and breathe new life into your business? Following is a breakdown of key considerations to take in your rebranding, the steps to follow and the best ways to get the word out.
Reasons Why You May Need to Rebrand
There are many reasons why businesses look into rebranding. Perhaps the messaging is no longer as effective as it used to be. Maybe the logo, color pattern, design or even brand or company name are out of style and no longer evoke the same response from customers. Maybe the name itself and the message it sends is so outdated that it can even be considered offensive. Products like Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Eskimo Pie have gone through a rebranding because they portrayed racist stereotypes. They are now called Pearl Mill Company, Ben’s Original Rice and Edy’s Pie.
Another reason why rebranding could be in order is if you are expanding your market or want to reach a different audience. Think of those new Old Spice commercials that are reaching out to a younger audience of men and women. Or the “cooler” Dunkin’ that lets us know that they are not just about donuts but also coffees, sandwiches and other drink options.
In all of these scenarios, the foundation of a strong brand is trust. No matter how quirky or hip you try to be, if there's no trust, there's nothing to build your brand on.
Some companies look into rebranding because of a bad reputation, which usually impacts the trust consumers place in them. One example of this is Blackwater, the private security firm whose employees were accused of killings in Iraq. After a number of name changes, they are now called Academi. But oftentimes, the reason many companies rebrand is that their name may not resonant with the market or their audience. Two well-known examples include BackRub, now Google, and Cadabra, which is today’s Amazon.
How Do You Rebrand a Small Business?
Whatever the reason for a rebranding, there are a number of considerations that a business owner will need to make. This can include everything from updating the brand name and design, to offering the proper messaging and ensuring that tagline, product names and even URLs are available and not registered to another company. Here’s a breakdown of key steps any business owner will need to take when it comes to rebranding their business
Company and product name. Make sure that the new name you've selected for your company or brand is actually available and not registered to another business. To make sure there are no issues, you’ll need to check with your state and conduct a business name search.
Know your audience. Are you targeting a specific age group? Gender? Lifestyle? If your product is getting directed or expanded to a new audience, it is important to know that audience and their needs. Do your due diligence and conduct the necessary market research.
Have a mission plan. What are you trying to do to help your customers? How can your products or services support their lifestyle? It’s not only important that you have the answer to these questions but your customers should have them as well. Remember: Your brand should add value and set you apart from the competition.
Make sure your team is on message. When it comes to rebranding, it’s important to have all hands on deck. Everyone on your team should know about the company’s revamped mission and the strategy that is involved. Your team should also be the ambassadors of your brand.
Update your logo, design, and tagline. Make sure that your logo and other visual markers help identify with your product or service. This can also include a slogan or tagline that can be catchy and add value to your brand. Having the right words to represent your business is as powerful and impactful as having the right visual identity and markers. Think of Nike’s “Just Do It” or Verizon Wireless with “Can You Hear Me Now?”
Revamp your website. If you are operating under a new name, make sure that you own your domain name. Also build your website with your new logo, color palette and messaging. Rebranding gives you the opportunity to refresh your site, add more features and functions and make it user-friendly. A big part of rebranding is providing customers with a new experience that exemplifies the changes you are implementing.
Get feedback. Once you have a plan for your name, visual identity (including logo and color palette) tagline and other messaging, have a brainstorming meeting with your employees or establish focus groups with clients to make sure that you are on track with your rebranding plans. Insights and input from others can be helpful and show different perspectives. It can also help highlight needs that you may not have anticipated or planned for.
How Do You Rebrand a Marketing Plan?
Marketing will play a large role in your rebranding. Big companies with huge budgets use television and radio ads, billboards, mailers and special promotions, but luckily the playing field is a bit more leveled when it comes to using social media and word-of-mouth in promoting your rebranding initiative.
Here are some key steps to take in marketing your new brand.
Send out an email to your current customers. It’s important that your existing customers are made aware of the changes involved in your rebranding and understand why your plans to rebrand will benefit them.
Find your target audience and direct your message to them. Are there groups, online clubs or communities that would be interested in your rebrand? If so, announce your rebrand through these groups. Also, create content that would interest them and resonate within these targeted communities and clubs.
Advertise on social media. Take advantage of social media sites visited by millions daily. Write a blog about your rebrand and introduce your product or service and revamped mission. Also work with Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites by creating ads.
Utilize reviews. Drum up support by having your product reviewed online or through a social media influencer. Also consider creating your own videos on platforms such as YouTube. Videos are very effective and are often shared.
Maintain an online presence. Stay active online. Create a schedule where you release new content about your rebranding. Also provide a forum for others to interact and talk about your brand. This will help build your brand and also develop and support a community around your brand.
Make an announcement. Finally, consider sending out a press release and make sure to update your business cards, forms, letterhead, stationery and anything else that will display your new brand.
Legalities of Rebranding Your Small Business
An important part of your rebranding strategy is making sure that you not only protect your brand but also avoid getting into any legal trouble if someone already has the name. In the case of the latter, doing your due diligence and research is important. Investing time and money into a rebranding strategy that mimics another company can open your small business to legal actions and liabilities. So to make sure that your rebranding strategy also protects your company, reputation and prospects for success, add the following to your checklist.
If you are planning on officially changing your company name, you will need to make sure that the name is available. This action will require you to conduct a trademark search to make sure that you are not infringing on any trademarks that belong to another business. You'll also want to register for new trademarks that will protect your brand, including your logo, slogan or any taglines linked to your product.
Once you have a new name and there’s no risk or concern that it is already registered by another organization, you will also need to amend your business filings. An Article of Amendment can be filed with your state's Secretary of State.
Depending on your rebranding strategy, consider operating under a DBA or “assumed business name.” Registering as a DBA allows you to maintain your current business name but also operate under your new assumed name.
Open a new bank account under your new business name. Most financial institutions will require that you have a new account for your new business.
Make sure to notify all your vendors and business accounts regarding any change to your business
Getting the Right Help for Your Rebranding Plans
Ultimately the main reason for a rebrand is more than just a name or logo change or updated website. It’s a redirection of your product or plan of generating a new experience for the customer. It can involve a restructuring of your business as well as your workforce. Rebranding also involves messaging, including what your company does and why and anything else you’d like your customers to know about your product, service and mission. Through a successful rebranding campaign, companies can come out stronger and reinvigorated with a new direction and a plan to meet their goals.
To make sure that your rebranding process runs smoothly, consider using a professional service with a strong track record. Since 2004, Incfile has helped over 800,000 business owners start a business, file for trademarks, find the right brand name, handle ongoing filing requirements and get help when it comes to managing your business entity.
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide divisions. Peter has also written several books on history, exploration, science, and technology.