Your brand is how people feel about your business.
  • Rebranding your small business step-by-step

    September 17, 2019

    Rebranding your small business step-by-step

    We launched in 2007 and rebranded in 2011. The middle logo was transitional.

    By Maureen McCabe

    Sooner or later, every small business should rebrand. There are many reasons, such as a change in direction or in ownership. Or there might be a change in consumer behaviour, social attitudes or even the competition. Plus, many businesses start up in a flurry, without taking time to carefully craft their brand in the first place. Here are 10 good reasons why rebranding is needed, and why McCabe Marketing had to rebrand.

    Before rebranding your company, it helps to understand what a brand is. Many entrepreneurs are not clear on this point. Your logo is not your brand. Your slogan is not your brand. Your staff uniforms, delivery van and trade show booth are not your brand.

    Your brand is the impression of a product or service held by real or potential customers. It includes every single touch-point your customers have with your company; it’s more than a logo, store layout, décor, uniforms, sales staff, packaging, online reviews – all of these play a key role in consistent branding and messaging.

    Let’s look at how to rebrand your business step-by-step.

    1. Determine who you are and what your business does.

    The first step in your rebranding strategy is to understand your business. This might seem almost trivial to you, who live and breathe your business, but many entrepreneurs cannot explain very simply what they do.  Here are examples of what people use to help define their business:

    • elevator pitch
    • vision statement
    • mission statement
    • detailed description
    • core values and principles

    Two key elements you should include are what motivates you to serve your clients, and what motivates them to hire or buy from you.

    2. Define your ideal customer or client and what they want.

    It’s one thing to know who you are. It’s another to know who your clients are. Like all communications, branding is not about you. When you communicate, it doesn’t matter what you say, only what the customer hears or understands.

    Different audiences will “hear and see’ you in different ways. Create a profile of at least two of your typical clients. Define their age, gender, business type, location, job title, education level, anything that could affect how they view different suppliers. If there a new type of client that you want to target, create a profile for them as well. Most importantly, define what they want, what they are looking for.

    Knowing your audience is critical to your branding. For instance, you want to expand your physiotherapy service to include other health professionals such as massage therapists. You determined that there’s a ready market for the expansion because your clients are asking for referrals to a massage therapist. Based on your research, perhaps you should rebrand with the long-term in mind such as a multi-disciplinary wellness centre which may include acupuncture, reflexology, doctor of chiropractor medicine etc.

    3.  List your strengths and weaknesses.

    By now, you know who you are and what you do. And you know what your target market wants.

    If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Do a full SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. Ideally, you should do a SWOT for your top three key competitors.

    This is critical. For instance, if one of your strengths is that everybody knows your name, you likely should keep it in some form when rebranding.

    Or, if your retail service faces new online pressure, you might want to turn your “friendly neighbourhood” service into part of your brand to counter that threat.

    A SWOT analysis will tell you what needs to be conveyed or what you should avoid doing when you rebrand. If you are rebranding your company because of changes to your business or to the marketplace, you should already have done a SWOT analysis. If not, do one now.

    4.  Figure out what makes you so special.

    You might already know this. It’s often called USP, or “unique selling proposition.” It answers two simple questions: “Why you?” “Why now?”

    There are dozens of travel agents in town. Why should they see you? Why not just book online? Why not go to your competition down the street?

    To answer this question, go back to what you do. Go back to what your market wants. Go back to your strengths.

    By the time you have established what makes your business so special, you will be ready to rebrand. Because that’s what a brand is all about.  It’s what gives your business its unique personality in the eyes of all who interact with it.

    5.  Determine your business personality and descriptor words.

    Rebranding your business includes defining your business personality. Are you casual and conversational? Formal and professional? Scientific and factual?

    Think of existing brands, are you like a staid, conventional bank such as RBC or TD? Or are you fresh and hip like Tangerine which I was surprised to learn while researching this topic, they are a subsidiary of Scotiabank.

    6. Create your new brand identity.

    It might surprise you that what most people think of as “branding” – a company’s logo – comes in only at Step 6. The fact is that the above rebranding steps take a lot of work and require branding expertise to get it right.

    As I said earlier, the logo isn’t the brand. How people feel about a company is the brand. To rebrand properly requires a complete study of you, your competitors, customers, and prospective customers. Your brand identity is how you communicate your brand at every step. It’s more than a logo, slogan, tagline, or imagery.

    The rebranding initiative will fall flat if it doesn’t reflect your business or your customers. A smile in your logo won’t feel right if you haven’t trained your staff to serve with a smile. People have a natural BS filter. Don’t cross it.

    Make sure that every visual and text element of your rebranding sends a strong message of who you are. Make sure that people “get” your brand. And make sure that your employees get it, too.

    Ready to learn more about how to rebrand your small business? We’re here to help.

    Branding / Rebranding Resources:

    What does marketing branding mean for your business?
    Rebranding strategy: five mistakes to avoid
    Top 10 reasons why it’s time to rebrand

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