In life – and in social media – all you’ve got is your brand. (And you can take that gold advice to the bank, baby.) So with reputation and recognition in mind, how should you approach the process of rebranding your business? In today’s Ruby Slipper blog, Iolanthe offers a roadmap to this exciting and risky time in your venture. Buckle up, get ready to rebrand!
Wondering if you need to rebrand your business? Believe me – you’ll know when it’s time to freshen up your identity because the desire to do so will itch like a misfitting school jumper. If you’ve done the hard work and branded properly the first time (more on that later), the core of your business identity should last you for a good three – five years. As any fellow business owner who’s been around the block a few times will attest, a lot can happen in five years’ worth of business. You’ll change. The market will change. You will grow, refine and even amend your offering.
After all that learning and growing, your brand will likely need a refresh. Whether that’s a full brand makeover or just a tweak or two, you’ll know it. And once you know it, you’ll want to act on it.
So You Think You Can Brand?
When you first began your business, were you bootstrapping? Did you do a lot of your business ideation and branding on your ownsome, equipped only with a fiverr logo, a WordPress blog and a predilection for Comic Sans? Ain’t no shame: we’ve all been there. Here’s the thing about branding and your business: once you know better, you do better. If you boot-strapped your way to the first iteration of your brand, your rebrand presents the opportunity to invest in the support you need to finesse your identity and let the market know you’re here for bizness.
Branding is all about building legitimacy. The hallmarks of considered graphic design, a quality website with matching professional photography, a considered, clever social media suite, newsletters and digital collateral all show the market that your brand is for real. Naff iPhone images, vacant LinkedIn profiles, obviously template-y websites and poorly designed logos communicate a lack of seriousness and experience. So now that you’re off and running with a few good years of trading behind you, you have the resources and the respect for branding required to take your business to the next level. (Word to the wise: don’t try and do it yourself next time ’round.)
Ruby Slipper’s Rebrand
When I began Ruby Slipper, I had a budget of next to nothin’. What little funds I had, I invested in a logo, business cards, and a set of glossy DL cards which advertised copywriting services to estate agents. Here’s a screenshot of the earliest iteration of my brand.
Whilst looking back at this early Ruby Slipper branding feels a little like looking at my first year Uni formal dress (in retrospect a bit daggy and altogether too informed by Christina Aguilera), I am extremely grateful for this first version of my brand. It reflected values my brand still holds at its core – being magical and lyrical – and it carried me through six years of business with great success.
But things changed, as they inevitably must. I grew. I learned. I finessed my offering to focus on delivering exceptionally clever social media, fully outsourced. My original brand felt too girly and playful. It didn’t reflect the knowledge and expertise I’d accrued, nor the respect and seriousness I now commanded as a Director. I had a very clear idea about Ruby Slipper’s new brand, consisting of a font-based logo and a square motif. I wanted a website that was word-lite, visual-heavy and editorial in feel. I engaged professionals to collaborate upon with me on the project … and after a mere six months of work, my new brand and website was launched. I am pleased to say that this fresh identity feels a perfect fit for my business, reflecting my experience, aesthetic and expert understanding of brand. I can see the heart of the new Ruby Slipper identity serving me for years to come – but again, I will be tweaking and adding to the website this year to further engage my audience and finesse the brand.
How Often is Too Often?
Some businesses fall prey to thinking that graphic design will save them. I’ll be clear: branding won’t save a poor business concept, or rescue an offering without market demand. This is true regardless of the size of the business (look at the past weekend’s TopShop administration announcement). I’ve observed many businesses flounder, spending oodles on branding every couple of years and destroying any recognition and momentum they’ve just begun to enjoy with a complete brand makeover. If you’re wanting to rebrand all the time, think carefully about your motives. Why do you need to rebrand consistently? How will the constant upheaval in identity affect your audience? And do you actually have a real business on your hands?
At the end of the day, branding builds legitimacy and enriches a great offering. It doesn’t, however, save a failing business model or unwanted concept.
Ready to Rebrand? Hints and Tips from Iolanthe
- Do it once, do it right. Invest in professional graphic design and get your logo sorted out. (Be aware that it doesn’t need to cost a bazillion dollars.) If you don’t know of a graphic designer, join groups like Serious Women’s Business Northside and ask for referrals from peers.
- Professional photography. In order for your brand to tell a story, it needs corresponding collateral in the form of quality images of you, your business, you in action etc. Without these assets, building a connection between you and your customer is an uphill battle.
- Digital assets. For many businesses, your digital shopfront is your only real estate. Naturally, it needs to be included in your rebrand. Work with a web designer to build a website that represents your brand: simplicity is often more powerful than bells and whistles. Don’t neglect pop-ups and data-farming as part of your website: your rebrand builds on the momentum you’ve already earned. Also, don’t be overly concerned about building a bespoke site(which can be prohibitively expensive). Whilst it might be necessary in the case of some businesses who require their page to have particular functionality, for most a beautifully designed template from Squarespace or WordPress skinned with your own branding will delight.
- Introducing the New You. If you are a very well-established brand or have a consumer product, it is considered normal practice to slowly segue from the original brand to the new over a period of months. This means dropping in new branding with old, allowing your audience to get used to your new logos, bylines, color schemes etc. Whilst this sounds counter-intuitive, it’s actually a gentle way to introduce your new branding. If you’re a service-based business, my inclination is to change your branding overnight.
Got the itch to rebrand? Book an intensive with Ruby Slipper and develop a roadmap to your hella-fresh identity here.
Photography: Breeana Dunbar