B2B / Rebranding

Have you outgrown your brand?

by Shachar Meron
02.12.19

Six signs it's time to rebrand—and four that you’re not.

One of my favorite rebranding projects was a tech firm in Chicago. I still remember meeting the owner. He told us how he started a local IT help desk and grew to take on enterprise clients and citywide projects. He had recently helped the city of New Orleans expand its WiFi footprint in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He wanted more projects like that.

But everything about his brand screamed local IT help desk: the name, the logo, the elevator pitch, the website. Even the corporate narrative ran uphill—it took 10 minutes to get to what he did and who he served today. (Most people give you about 10 seconds until they decide to keep listening or move on.) So municipal CTOs ignored him, while requests to fix routers rolled in daily.

His business had simply outgrown his brand. And it was clearly time to rebrand.

time-to-rebrand-illustration

We see it all the time: visionary leaders and capable teams do great work and grow the business. The company evolves—bigger clients, more employees, new offerings, new markets. Yet the brand doesn’t keep up. It reflects an earlier version of their company, back when they were young and scrappy and often confused.

A brand that doesn't fit can actually hold you back. It's like that shirt you've kept in rotation for way too long.

But a brand that doesn’t fit can actually hold you back. It’s like that shirt you’ve kept in rotation for way too long: it was cool at the time, but over the years it’s fallen out of style, faded, maybe shrunk in the wash, til your better half is so embarrassed for you that they find the opportunity to throw it out. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Here are six warning signs that it might be time to rebrand:

  • You struggle to attract the right customers. The ones you want don’t immediately see how you’ve got what they need. You may also be wasting time fending off (or worse, servicing) customers that don’t fit in your target audience.
  • It's hard to attract (or keep) the right employees. The best ones have options; but when they see your job postings, they don’t see themselves at your company. Your current A-players wonder if this is where they want to spend their best years.
  • Partners don’t know how to promote you. You have some great referral and channel partners who swim in the right circles and are happy to vouch for you—but they don’t know what to say, or they pitch you the wrong way.
  • The sales team has a disclaimer. When they talk about your company, they preempt it with “We say we do this, but we really do that.” Or “So this is a little out of date, it’s from before we started etc etc.” (Note: could just be a marketing problem.)
  • You hesitate to share. Afraid of making a bad first impression, you postpone reaching out to your most promising leads “until we figure this out” or “we get a better ___.” You sometimes choose not to hand out your materials or direct people to your site.
  • There's no room to grow. You have the ambition and ability to expand into new offerings and markets, but your brand doesn’t flex to cover that new territory. Like lighter fluid and perfume, it just doesn’t mix.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be time to rebrand. That could mean a cosmetic update (like a new identity and story) or a strategic overhaul (like new positioning and messaging). I’ll save that issue for another post.

Four cases where it's not time to rebrand after all:

But I’ll leave you with some good news: the most common reasons I see from business leaders are actually (in my experience) not good reasons to rebrand at all. These include:

  • Leadership is bored and wants to change for the sake of change.
  • A new marketing director has just been hired... and wants to make their mark on the company. Or maybe there's a new creative agency who’d love a branding case study.
  • They’re reacting to a new trend or gutsy competitor (if you’re chasing, you’ll always be behind).
  • What they really need is a substantial business change, but changing the brand feels easier (treating the symptom instead of the cause).

So if that sounds more like your situation, stop and evaluate the pros and cons of rebranding. Rebranding can be a big investment of time, money and effort, and sometimes it may cause more harm than good—so it’s ok if your default setting is to do nothing. Yet.

As for that tech firm, rebranding was right for them because they answered “yes” to four of the six warning signs and it truly was the right time to rebrand. But they ended up being one of my favorite rebranding clients for one simple reason: their business was better than their brand. So we could trust them to do what they do best, and all we had to do was shape their brand to fit the best version of themselves.

And I hardly ever miss that shirt.


B2B / Rebranding

by Shachar Meron

02.12.19


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Bluegreen provides brand strategy consulting for ambitious B2B brand marketing leaders, specializing in tech and finance. Together with our network of expert partners, we’re engaged for branding, rebranding, brand identity and naming, brand messaging and communications strategy, corporate narratives and writing, logo design, marketing plans and launch campaigns, sales tools and training, digital strategy and website design, creative ideation and thought leadership.

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