Mention ‘Brand’ in a group of small business owners and the chances are you’re triggering one of two thoughts:
1) “Yeah, like Coke, Starbucks and Virgin – that stuff has nothing to do with us…”
2) “Hmm…. our logo could do with a tidy-up…”
Both of those responses have an element of relevance, but they represent the extremes of what branding means for small businesses.
I’m beginning to think the problem is with the word itself – it’s become a shorthand for, “Like when the BBC spent a million quid just to un-italicise the logo”. (I’ll talk about this another time!)
Because branding actually has so little to do with the visual identity, it’s easier in the small business context to think of it in terms of a word that sums it up much better. Reputation.
We all get that. We small companies get much of our business through referrals, word-of-mouth and networking, and in that context reputation is everything. If you’re known for being fast, efficient and responsive, that’s a great reputation to have, and the only way to keep it is by consistently delivering those qualities. By being authentic. There’s a lot of talk about values these days, but just choosing some doesn’t mean you own them. The market judges you on your actions – not your intentions.
So if you find that the visual and written representations of what you do have fallen out of sync with your authentic reputation (or Brand Values) it might be time for a rebrand.
Of course, that might mean changing your name, your logo, and the way you communicate, but that’s not the end in itself. This is all about getting the message you send out to the people you can help lined up with the values you live by, in a way that nobody else does.
Authentic, compelling and unique.
Here’s a few signs that you might be in need of a rebrand:
- People don’t remember your company, or mix you up with others.
- Your product range or services have changed significantly. Being known for how you used to be is not helpful.
- Your brand is outdated. A bit like a granddad in a biker jacket, what was once appropriate may not suit you today.
- Your margins are being squeezed. You need to reposition so that people can see the true value of your services, and pay accordingly.
Rebranding involves discovering who you really are, what you stand for, and understanding your organisational culture. It also involves finding out whether people see you as you want to be seen. If there’s some disparity, then it’s worth revisiting your brand values to better target your market.
There’s a lot you can do by reflection and research, but getting professional help is important. Business owners are usually so close to the business that they fail to realise the hidden value they can offer to their customers at a premium price.
If you make the decision to rebrand, share it with your own people first. Involve them, listen to them and inspire them. Your whole team needs to be on board and understand why you’re doing this, and bringing in a branding agency without telling your staff usually causes resentment!
We’ve put together a little booklet to help you get clarity on your brand (amazingly, called the Brand Clarity Workbook) and you can get it free by clicking here.
If you want to discuss how a rebrand might help your business, give us a call on 01865 204200. We’re happy to help with no obligations.