Any business owner will tell you that he or she has put blood, sweat and tears into starting their business. The pressure is even greater for second, third and fourth-generation owners who are supposed to carry on the legacy that has been set before them.
Nonetheless, successful owners will tell you that in order to survive, and thrive, they’ve had to go through a series of changes to grow the business. One of these changes is branding.
Branding is not just about the look and feel of your logo, website, and marketing materials. Branding represents the business. And as an owner, your company’s brand often serves as an extension of you (or the legacy you are carrying forth). I can’t help but think about my favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail, when Kathleen (Meg Ryan) explains to Joe (Tom Hanks) that business isn’t just about business. It’s more than that:
Last year, our design team met with a bakery owner and showed her and her mother a series of logos we designed for the business. When they saw the one that spoke to them most, they couldn’t help but get emotional because it was “just so them, so their family.” The logo had a great deal of meaning. We designed the logo for the consumer, the end-user, keeping the business owner’s preferences in mind. But when we can impact both sides of the business, these moments are pure gold.
So what happens when it’s time to change your branding to reflect industry trends, new company direction, or perhaps new ownership?
Good design and solid branding serve as problem-solving and communication tools for your business. If your logo, for example, was designed in 1980, and you’re trying to communicate how innovative and committed to the future your company is, you’re sending mixed messages. If you’ve expanded your product lines, but your website only focuses on one service, you’re not only not communicating that to your customers, you’re actually losing business every day. If you want to stand out from your competitors, but all your materials are outdated or look like everyone else’s, you are affecting your company’s bottom line.
When you are personally attached to your company, it’s common to also be attached to your brand. Even though you know that the look and feel of your brand needs an update, it’s not only a hassle to change your materials, it’s personal, too. We aren’t privy to an inside look of the sleepless nights executives have spent mulling over logo changes, but from my own experience working with business owners, I know that it can be a big deal.
Here’s a shocker: change is hard.
When changing your brand is inevitable, here are some tips to get you through the process:
Recognize what’s changing about your business and what’s not changing. While the structure or process of your company might be going through transition, some things will always remain: your values. You may be getting an external makeover, but values such as trust, integrity, and commitment to your customers do not need to change. Your brand should continue to reflect your values.
Keep the end goal of your branding in mind. Do you need to communicate something new to your customers? Expand your customer-base? Keep them? Add to the bottom line? Is it simply time for an update? Whatever your goals are for changing your branding, remember that although it is personal, so is the success of your business.
Consider the opposite of change. What would happen if you ignored industry branding standards? Would it matter? What if you never changed your marketing materials? What if you kept on doing what you’ve always been doing? I think you know the answer.
Move forward when you’re almost ready. I’ve heard this advice when making big decisions for your personal life, and I think it applies here, too. It’s the 80/20 decision-making rule that is oh-so-difficult for anyone who needs to have absolutely everything in place, all things considered and accounted for, all ducks in a row. If you are 80% ready for a branding overhaul, do it. It could simply be too late if you wait until you are at the 100% mark.
It’s never easy when business is, in fact, personal. My heart goes out to you. Please feel free to email me if you’re curious to know if it’s time (or almost time) for a brand change for your company.