Before You Rebrand: What You Need to Know

how to rebrand a small business

marketing plan templateIs your small business branding ready for a new and improved brand image?

Rebranding a business is not for the faint of heart. The process demands close scrutiny of internal culture, an objective assessment of current (and future) market conditions, and no small amount of courage to take a chance on a completely new identity for the business.

At the same time, rebranding may mean the difference between fading into obscurity and boldly staking a claim for a new customer base.

While rebranding may be a critical move for your company, it can also be a costly and time-consuming endeavor.

Here are factors to consider before taking the leap.



Answer the question: “Why?”

A business should never rebrand simply for the sake of doing so. Instead, there must be a focused effort to identify what you hope to achieve with the process and the kinds of current customer and industry perceptions you wish to change.

Rebranding doesn’t necessarily mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. According to Phil Vallender at Blend Marketing, part of answering the question “Why?” includes noting “which aspects of your current brand hold the most value and which do not, so that you can determine which elements are worth retaining while others can be updated or replaced.”

Identify shortcomings with your present brand.

There are plenty of compelling reasons to embark upon a rebranding process. These include:

  • A lack of clear messaging. If a typical client can’t immediately understand the visual aspect of your brand, there’s likely something wrong with the messaging.
  • A lack of differentiation. Your branding materials (logo, web design, etc.) may appear too generic or similar to the competition.
  • Reaching out to the wrong audience. Some element of the brand attracts the wrong type of customers. “If you’re constantly getting low-balled, there’s something in your brand messaging that isn’t lining up,” writes brand development specialist Jacqueline Thomas.

Determine the positive reasons for a change.

The process doesn’t have to stem from negative factors alone. A well-planned and efficiently executed rebrand may enable your business to more accurately reflect changing market preferences and give you a competitive advantage over more traditional and “stodgy” companies in your industry.

It’s also a way of announcing to the world that you’re evolving as a player in the marketplace. “As any small business prospers, a rebrand can reflect the larger, more sophisticated company it has become,” writes Sookie Shuen at the Marketing Donut. A business that doesn’t seize this opportunity, Shuen adds, risks “becoming dwarfed by their more dynamic competitors.”

Be clear about your vision, differentiation and customer perspective.

A rebrand is the ideal opportunity to re-examine the core values of your business, particularly if you feel the brand has strayed too far from what it originally stood for. In B2B and elsewhere, there are few genuine differentiating factors, which means your unique vision may be just the thing that sets you apart — and is best expressed with a major brand overhaul.

Closely examine how customers view your business. The type of messaging that resonates most strongly with them is more important than your own personal brand preferences. Rebranding is not about you, it’s about establishing a new relationship with your target audience.

Be prepared to get input.

Failure to solicit feedback from various stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, vendors) is a common mistake among businesses seeking to re-establish themselves. Feedback from these constituencies is likely to generate new ideas about the rebrand, while also paving the way for greater stakeholder buy-in once the process is completed.

Your employees in particular will be greatly affected by the rebrand. That’s why, as Henry Helgeson, CEO of Cayan, a payment technologies provider, notes,

“if you clue them in as early as possible and solicit their feedback and opinions, a rebrand can actually be a great opportunity to make people feel they have a real stake in your company.

Before you rebrand, delve deeply into your culture and determine if now is the best time to give your business a new, more dynamic identity.




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Claire Holland

Director of Marketing Communications at agencyEA
Claire Holland is the Director of Marketing Communications at agencyEA, a brand experience agency in Chicago that specializes in experiential, digital and traditional engagement. Her vision guides the company’s brand and voice. Claire’s strategic communication and writing skills contribute to all agencyEA marketing, branding, public relations and more.