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  • Writer's pictureJenny Henderson

HOW TO EFFECTIVELY DIAGNOSE AND REBRAND YOUR BUSINESS

Updated: Sep 6, 2023


how to rebrand your business

To rebrand your business, it’s almost like a rite of passage. I mean look at the history of major brands like Apple and Adidas. Their brands and logos have evolved a lot since they first went to market.


Compared to these companies, your business is probably a young pup. Regardless of how long you’ve been in business, something inside you is telling you it’s time for a rebrand. The reality is, no rebrand is created equal. In order to rebrand your business and make it count, you need to diagnose the type of rebrand your business really needs before taking action. That’s exactly what this blog will help you do.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


TOP FOUR REASONS TO REBRAND YOUR BUSINESS

Before we diagnose your rebrand, you need to determine why rebranding is important for you and your business. While there are a lot of reasons not to rebrand, let’s look at the usual instigators to see where you fall.


Reason #1: Levelling Up a DIY or Amateur Brand Identity

It’s an all too common startup story: the DIY brand. Whether you had a friend design your logo or you used a template in Canva to give your business its visual identity—you always knew this would be a temporary solution.


If this is you, your current brand identity probably includes a logo (maybe two), a few colours, and some fonts. Your brand assets are minimal, not high resolution or vector, and you find you’re limited by what you can do creatively. This was the brand you used to get your business out into the world but it’s time to level up!


rebrand a company mood board

Reason #2: Your Business has Changed in Scope

The second most popular reason for rebranding is usually with regards to scope. Businesses evolve. Maybe your business offerings have expanded or maybe you’ve gone the other route and specialized.


Sometimes the change in scope has to do with your location or the area you serve. Many businesses grow in size, staff, departments, or branches—all of which can lead to restructuring.

The point is, if your current brand no longer reflects the nature of your business today, then it’s definitely time to rebrand. If this is the case, you may also be considering a name change alongside your company rebrand. (See reason number 4.)


Reason #3: Your Business is Attracting the Wrong Audience

A common reason for rebranding is simply because your brand isn’t performing well. Whether you seem to be attracting the wrong type of leads or no leads at all—rebranding your business is definitely the answer to your problems.


On a basic level, the colours and styles you select for your brand identity play a huge role in the audience your brand attracts. On a deeper level, your brand messaging may be hurting your efforts. So when your brand isn’t performing well, one must consider their options:

  1. rebranding vs brand refresh

  2. rebranding vs repositioning

We’ll touch more on these shortly.


Reason #4: You’re Changing Your Business Name

Is it time for a name change? Whether you’re a freelancer who’s going all in on their business, a personal brand that’s scaled and needs to pivot, or for reasons beyond your control—a name change will often spearhead a rebrand. Consider it an opportunity to put your best foot forward.


Your reasons for rebranding could be a combination of any one of these. Regardless, the solution is always the same: brand strategy.




DIAGNOSING YOUR BUSINESS’S REBRAND

There are different types of rebrand approaches. The direction you take should be filtered through these rebranding questions:

  1. what the root problem is you’re trying to correct

  2. what you may be trying to avoid in the process

  3. what you’re trying to achieve by rebranding

To diagnose your rebrand, you need to determine which rebrand definition best fits your current situation.



diagnosing your rebrand based on reasons for rebranding


THE OVERHAUL

The Overhaul is for businesses that either want or need to start over. You’re ready to ditch your existing brand and give yourself a clean slate. The brand identity, the messaging, everything gets a fresh start. You’re going back to drawing board.


Usual Reasons for Rebranding: Name Change, Scope, or Attracting the Wrong Audience


 

THE GLOW UP

The Glow Up is for those businesses that have evolved in scope. Your current brand no longer reflects all the facets of your growing business and it needs to adapt.


The Glow Up rebrand is also for those who are looking to polish their brand identity and build out their creative assets. This gives their brand more versatility and enhances their overall brand experience.


Usual Reasons for Rebranding: Scope or Levelling Up


 

THE REFRESH

The Refresh is the simplest of the three. Consider it the Glow Up’s kid sister. The Refresh means you’re looking to modernize your brand identity with a few minor tweaks, but nothing too disruptive. If you’ve been wondering about rebranding vs brand refresh, this is definitely the latter. A brand refresh is inevitable for most businesses and usually results in strategic simplification. Just look at the recent rebrands of Starbucks, Pepsi, and Burger King.


Usual Reasons for Rebranding: Levelling Up or Attracting the Wrong Audience



rebranding 101 is to simplify
Before (bottom) and after (top) logo refreshes show a trend of simplification



THE SLIDING SCALE OF REBRANDS

As previously mentioned, no rebrand is created equal. Using the reasons for rebranding alongside the rebrand approaches above, use this chart to help frame your rebrand strategy.

chart describing the sliding scale of rebrands


SIX REBRANDING QUESTIONS YOU MUST ANSWER BEFORE YOU REBRAND

When approaching any rebrand, it’s important to think strategically. Be sure to carefully reflect and answer these rebranding questions before doing anything.

  1. Why is now a good time to rebrand your business?

  2. Will we benefit more from visually rebranding vs repositioning our brand?

  3. What has proved to work well with our current brand?

  4. What hasn’t worked well with our current brand?

  5. What needs to be different?

  6. What should stay the same?


HOW TO REBRAND YOUR BUSINESS

Now that you’ve diagnosed your rebrand, here’s how you approach your rebranding strategy. Depending on the type of rebrand your business needs—the Overhaul, the Glow Up, or the Refresh—we’ll use a simple three part framework to shape your approach:

  1. Your strategy focus

  2. Your design focus

  3. What to avoid


The Overhaul Rebrand Strategy

STRATEGY FOCUS

With the Overhaul rebrand approach, since you’re starting over, spend time analyzing your previous brand.

  • Where was your brand underperforming?

  • What worked and how can you use what you now know as you rebrand your business?

Since you’re starting over, your strategy needs to cover all your bases: customer profiles, brand messaging, brand experience, and where you’d like to go as a business. This is your opportunity to think big and understand what you’re trying to achieve with your brand this go around.


Working with a brand strategist is in your best interest, because doing the groundwork and having a clear brand position is a must before you even begin thinking about your creative direction.


DESIGN FOCUS

Your design focus will completely depend on your brand strategy. All of your creative choices should emerge as a result of what you’ve uncovered during the strategy phase. You’re starting over, so make every step count.


WHAT TO AVOID

Avoid a copycat strategy. Just because you’re giving your business the clean slate, doesn’t mean you should borrow all of your inspiration from your current brand crushes. This is your chance to rebrand your business in a way that is authentically you! Do the strategy work and you’ll be amazed with where you end up.

overhaul rebrand example
The Overhaul example with our client Bodytonic Pilates



The Glow Up Rebrand Strategy

STRATEGY FOCUS

With the Glow Up rebrand approach, your strategy will depend on your why.

If you’re rebranding because your business has evolved in scope, consider whole-heartedly how this shift needs to adapt to your existing brand. It’s important to factor in your trajectory. Anticipate any future avenues of change so you can approach your rebrand today in a way that will serve your business long-term.


If you’re levelling up a DIY or amateur brand, you really want to identify and evaluate your key challenges as a brand. Look for the opportunities to strengthen your brand messaging and let that inform your creative direction. Look to your competition to see what opportunities exist to differentiate while staying true to who you are both now and as you evolve.


Be sure to keep your audience at the forefront of your mind as you approach your strategy. The more established you are, the higher risk you are for backlash. Do a risk assessment with your rebrand. How can you avoid possible backlash? To rebrand your business, you need to be prepared to communicate your reasons for rebranding in a way that supports the interests of your loyal fan base.


DESIGN FOCUS

For the Glow Up, you really want to focus on creating versatility with your brand identity. This means more iterations of your logo—these 6 logo designs every brand needs. Consider adding brand patterns, creating tagline graphics, and aligning your brand tone with your brand aesthetic. Work with a designer to ensure you have proper vector logo files in a range of your brand colours and a library of both digital and for-print assets.


WHAT TO AVOID

Don’t make things more complicated. This is your opportunity to simplify everything.

Don’t changeover your brand without creating a launch plan. Especially if you’ve been around for a while, make sure you’re making a thoughtful plan for debuting the rebrand.


glow up rebrand example
Our client Pierre Carapetian Group needed a Glow Up when they changed brokerages


The Refresh Rebrand Strategy

STRATEGY FOCUS

Going into your brand refresh, you want to consider your goals and the core reasons behind your decision to refresh. Because this rebrand approach is subtle, you really want to maximize your efforts. If you’re trying to pivot your tone or magnetism with a particular audience, what are the gentle ways in which you can achieve this?


Before you start, gather some data from your audience. Create a survey that will help you understand how your audience actually perceives your brand. This will be a huge asset during your rebrand because it will allow you to make strategic decisions to course correct any perceptions that are out of alignment.


This is your opportunity to strengthen your visual image, so spend time really getting clear on what you want to communicate through your design choices that your current brand is not.


DESIGN FOCUS

After you’ve strategized your approach, you want to be mindful of the core strengths of your existing brand identity. What are the key elements that are working, that are familiar and celebrated, and what definitely needs to change?


Factor in your brand touch points and see how you can elevate them as you rebrand your business.


This is your opportunity to simplify, polish things up, and make a more united collection of cohesive brand assets.


WHAT TO AVOID

Don’t assume you know best. Talk to your audience! The more established you are, the higher risk you are for backlash with a rebrand. Changing your brand colour palette is high-risk and the most aggressive change for a Refresh. Generally, I would try to avoid a drastic palette change, instead, focus on subtle shift in colour tone.



brand refresh example
Blondie Apparel hired the Studio when they were ready to Refresh their brand


Rebranding a business successfully means working strategically, understanding your customer, and thinking long-term. To rebrand a company, no matter the size, the underlying goal should be longevity. You don’t rebrand your business with the intention of rebranding again in the future. If there’s one thing you can takeaway from this blog: make your rebrand count.




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Jenny Henderson is a brand strategist and business mentor. She collaborates with service-based solopreneurs to design memorable brands that allow them to make a living doing what they love. Since 2020, her branding studio has become a place where small business owners come to learn to think like a brand.




 

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