Let’s face it: sometimes, we can all use a makeover. A redo. A fresh face moment. It makes you feel alive, and the businesses we’ve loved and nurtured are no different.
Rebranding is a powerful opportunity to remember your “why,” reorient toward your north star, and let your business evolve and take new shape.
While the reasons for rebranding are many, the process isn’t always so cut and dry. Depending on the age of your business, and many other factors, rebranding should be done with care. Here are the six ingredients for a successful rebrand.
You know what helps a rebrand? A bench of wise counselors, ideally other women who’ve led successful businesses. The Legal Legacy Lounge™ is an elite huddle up that welcomes women in all stages of business growth to the table. Learn more here!
Brand Refresh Versus Rebranding
As we begin talking this through, let’s talk about touch-ups versus facelifts.
A full brand overhaul isn’t the same as a brand refresh.
Here are some good questions to ask:
- Do you simply want to update components of your brand (your logo and a couple of colors in your palette), or do you want to change the whole thing?
- Do you want to add new elements to your brand or do you need to change the essence of what your brand does or is in the marketplace?
- Could your current brand be adapted to serve a new purpose, or is it incapable of growing or scaling in the right direction?
These questions will help you as a litmus test of sorts to discern whether your brand needs a refresh, or a full rebranding.
If you are decisively in favor of the latter, we’ll start by saying: you need a plan.
The six ingredients below will help you formulate the right rebranding strategy to carry you into your next season of success.
1. Know When it’s Time
Like anything in life, timing is everything when it comes to a rebrand.
This can be a hard one to gauge because there is always a risk in rebranding that you lose a segment of existing customers. You could lose brand awareness you may have worked painstakingly to cultivate.
However, there are some times when rebranding is absolutely the right move in the right direction. For example:
Your reputation took a hit — Let’s face it, like it or not, there are trolls and haters on the internet. Maybe you were a victim of supply chain delays and got an onslaught of negativity. Maybe, for circumstances completely outside your control, a service just didn’t pan out. Whatever the case, irreparable reputation damage makes you a good candidate for rebranding. You’re not over, you’re just going to step out on a different foot!
You’re expanding into new markets — Maybe you’ve branded yourself as an executive coach for U.S. Fortune 500 businesses. Great. But then you get an offer to coach over in the UK. If all of your branding centers around a specific region, you may need to rebrand to make it clear that you offer global services.
You’re merging with another business — Mergers and acquisitions are a regular part of the business world, and for start ups and scaleups, this conversation is almost always in the mix. If you’ve found a like-minded team to work with, you’ll need to rebrand after a merge.
2. Accept the Costs
Rebranding will cost you something: money, time, and resources.
There are inherent risks and there will always be some collateral damage or loss that occurs, simply because change brings that dynamic. It’s important that you calculate this, knowing what kind of revenue could go out the door, as well as what it will take to really accomplish a full rebranding. A new website, new marketing materials, new social profiles, new processes: all of it will need to be retooled.
While this may be calculated as “loss,” there’s also major gain to be had here if the rebranding is the right choice for your business. You are making a decision in your favor that supports your future. Let us encourage you: Even if the process of rebranding is tricky and a little costly, the outcome will be great.
3. Map the Way Forward
Here’s where the strategic plan starts to take shape.
As long as you’ve timed it right and counted the cost, you can start to map out how you will achieve a rebrand. There are phases to it, putting your old brand to bed and replacing it with a new one. Doing this all at once is a mistake, and you should be careful not to shock your existing client or customer base with a quick flip.
Here are some tips to make rebranding as smooth and strategic as possible:
Reimagine success — From board members to your administrative assistant, every internal stakeholder should be the first to know about your rebranding vision, then they should be in on ideation (as much as is appropriate). Dream together about what the new brand will be like, and let people who care weigh in on the outcome. The bonus is that this will secure buy-in on a higher level, which makes it easier to achieve a frictionless rebranding.
Preach the new gospel — Get *crystal clear* on all of your messaging. Whether you are launching into a new market or simply changing lanes to offer a new product, rebranding should be filled with enthusiasm and clarity. Know your direction, map it out, and head there with confidence, speaking consistently about what’s coming and when.
Take care of the structural stuff — From your LLC’s articles of organization to your employment structure to your chain of command, everything may shift during a rebrand. Get an accountant. Get a lawyer. Get a business advisor or coach. Don’t go blind into a rebrand: it could be fraught with more challenges than you currently realize, and you want to have all your ducks in a row.
4. Talk to Your Vendors
Once everybody inside the business is stoked and on board with a rebrand, you need to hype your external stakeholders. This will include any partners and all of your vendors.
There are some logistics here, such as timing announcements, updating billing info, updating legal contracts, etc. It is also important that they understand your new direction, and that you understand which partners and vendors fit your new brand (and which don’t).
Have all of these important conversations and be proactive about the change.
5. Let the People Know!
Internal stakeholders: check.
External stakeholders: check.
Now, the world!
Whether it’s throwing a rebranding party or developing new marketing materials to support your new brand identity, it’s time to flex those marketing muscles sis! This means establishing a communication plan.
Build up hype around your rebrand and launch with all of your power and positivity.
6. Remember to Consider the Legalities of Rebranding
Of course, you knew we weren’t going to leave you hanging here. The legalities of rebranding are absolutely essential. We already told you to get a lawyer (remember? Just a second ago?). Now we’re going to remind you of some of the high level legal considerations around rebranding.
Research your new brand ideas: Make sure your name isn’t already taken, your brand isn’t too similar to existing ones, and you create a new brand that’s truly unique in the market.
Pro tip: Conduct a comprehensive trademark search of any new brand identifiers. We suggest selecting a distinctive name that isn’t just *not a copy*, but is truly unique.
Legally Change Your Business Name
A full rebrand sometimes requires legally changing your business name. In some instances, you may choose to use a “doing business as”, or DBA name. This could leave your business’s legal name untouched, and let you use a “trade name” to operate online and in branding. It’s important that you get legal advice to do this, since multiple entities — from the government to the IRS — will have some standards for how it works.
Pro tip: remember, if you are changing your business name, you must update organizational documents and contracts. Do a full audit and find and replace everywhere your name currently resides, such as email signatures, marketing collateral, domain names, social media handles, Google/SEO etc.
Keep Your IP Portfolio
Trademarks, copyrights, your logo, anything your company owns in any way should be considered during the rebranding process. Think about the old and think about the new, including the people who help you make the switch. Revisit this blog for a refresher on how to protect your intellectual property.
Seek Legal Counsel
A full rebrand isn’t just new colors or a logo: it’s a new opportunity with a new identity. Depending on the complexity, an experienced business lawyer can alleviate stress and make the transition smoother. Don’t take a chance of misstepping, or you’ll trip yourself up on what should be a joyful journey.
Bonus Tip: Make sure you have a plan for measuring the results and success of your rebrand. Post-rebranding assessment will give you a new baseline for performance (you’ll always see a dip, but then you should see upward trends). Measure your post-rebrand performance based on sales, revenue, number of leads, conversion rates, and any other KPIs you already track.
Legal Resources for Small Businesses
Rebranding is your chance to do something exciting: to present your bold and brilliant work to the world in a whole new way. When it’s time, you’ll know it. Create a rebranding strategy, be guided by experts in the know, launch thoughtfully, and carefully analyze the “after” effects.
The Legal Godfairy is always here to cheer you on. We think what you do is great, and whatever brand you do it under is one people are going to want to watch.
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*Disclaimer: This blog post has been prepared solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to provide, nor should it be relied on for, legal advice. Should you require advice regarding a specific matter, appropriate legal or other professional advice should be obtained.