In terms of your startup, your brand is a lot more than a name or a logo. It represents the principles and the values that your company was founded on in the first place. It's the feeling or emotion that you want people to have when they think about your business. It's also indicative of something incredibly powerful - the promise that you're making to your customers and the positive impact you're trying to have on their lives.
It is NOT, however, something that you should be afraid to change. Not if it's absolutely necessary to do so.
One study estimates that 64% of people cite shared values as the major reason why they have a relationship with a brand in the first place. Likewise, 80% of consumers said that "authenticity of content" was the major influential factor in their initial decision to become a follower of a brand. If your brand isn't connecting with people in exactly the way you need it to in the early days of your business, you need to pivot until you get it right - it's too important of a factor to ignore.
When rebranding your startup, however, there are a number of critical things you'll want to keep in mind.
"Why This, Why Now?"
When it comes to a major move like rebranding, you must always ask yourself "why am I doing this?" at every opportunity. Every decision that you make needs to be followed up with a series of questions that you answer as honestly as humanly possible - "why is this better than what we had? Why is now the right time to do this? Why is rebranding a good idea in the first place?"
Related: 5 Hacks to Social Media Rebranding
That's not to say that you should constantly second-guess yourself. Rather, you need to make sure that you're acting on the right information for the right people at the right time. When it comes to rebranding, you really only get one shot at it if you're a startup - rebranding too many times creates confusion in the marketplace, putting you farther away from your ultimate goal. You also can't afford a lateral move - what you wind up with needs to be objectively better than what you had. Being willing to question your own instincts is a way to make sure that happens.
Understand What You're Trying to Accomplish
Again, successful rebranding is about more than just picking a new name or designing a new logo. As the new version of your brand begins to organically develop, you need to ask yourself additional questions like:
- Is the new name I've chosen unique enough to stand out in a crowded marketplace? (if applicable).
- Is this new image I'm creating for my brand easy to relate back to what we do as a company?
- Does it have the potential to become a global brand?
- Is the new image for my brand meaningful? Are other people going to care about it?
- Does it have that "cool" factor?
Consistency is King
Never forget that ALL aspects of a brand need to feel like they're coming from the same place to create a consistent, unified experience no matter what. Everything from your logo to your website to your marketing emails to the font you choose for that next great flyer need to be born out of the same place and they all need to hit on the same core ideas.
To that end, don't forget that rebranding is a great opportunity to correct certain wrongs you may have made the first time. If part of your initial problem was that your brand had a very schizophrenic identity, you MUST look for any and all opportunity to correct that the second time around.
Listen to Your Consumers
One of the great things about consumers is that they always have an opinion, particularly when it comes to running YOUR business. Because rebranding is all about trying to reach consumers where it matters the most - their heart - you need to make sure that you're listening to them at every opportunity.
Simply put, validate early and validate often during your rebrand. Every time you have a new idea that feels right, show real people what you're working on and ask for their opinion. While this is a naturally subjective process in certain ways, getting feedback from real people can be a great way to force yourself to start thinking outside of your comfort zone. If you keep getting the same negative piece of information over and over again, take it as a sign that there is still more work to be done.