Startup founders naturally make a lot of decisions when they start a business. Many of those decisions are good. Some are bad, but most of those mistakes can be fairly easily overcome. Plus, it's actually possible to fail your way to success.
But when it comes to the brand identity of your business, even a few bad decisions can be incredibly detrimental to your success -- so much so that rebranding, and therefore changing customer perception of your business, is necessary.
Necessary -- but not easy.
Successful rebrands require more than just changing your logo and promotional materials.
It's extremely tough to rebrand your company once -- for better or worse -- your brand is established.
Successful rebrands involve everyone in the company. Not just marketing, not just advertising; everyone. Customer service. Operations. Fulfillment. Your brand is much more than your logo and tagline; ultimately, your brand is the sum total of the customer experience.
Which means the only way to successfully rebrand is for everyone in the company to take part in creating an amazing customer experience.
Successful rebrands take time.
You may be able to change your company's brand identity and customer experience fairly quickly. Yet, regardless of how long it takes, once everything involved in the rebrand is implemented, customer perception will take much longer to change.
That's especially true if your product or service experience has improved dramatically and is more high-end.
Take a company like Target: once seen as a discount retailer like Walmart or K-Mart, Target shifted to signing exclusive contracts with high-profile designers and stocking lower-budget versions of designer clothing.
But it still took a number of years for Target's well-established brand perception to change.
Successful rebrands require different marketing strategies, but not too different.
Say you decide to target a new slice of a market. Or a new demographic (sometimes shifting your audience focus is a key to long-term success). Or to expand your product and service offering.
That's what we did at LogoMix. Making a logo is one of the first steps in building a brand for a small business, so my goal was to make it easy and inexpensive for small-business owners to create a brand identity. Initially, we offered a logo maker, but soon grew to provide other branding and marketing products.
Broadening your product base may require revamping your marketing and advertising campaigns, but if you change too much -- or appear to pivot too often -- your customers will no longer understand what you do.
Also, keep in mind where potential customers come from; at one point over 20 percent of our traffic came from people typing in our brand name. Changing our brand name would have instantly eliminated a sizable chunk of our inbound (and organic) traffic.
Successful rebrands change external perceptions, but they start with changing internal practices.
In the mid-1980s, Harley-Davidson found itself on the verge of bankruptcy. Among motorcycle riders, Harley's quality and reliability were widely ridiculed. One joke went, "What do Harley riders put in their saddlebags before taking a short ride? A quart of oil, so they can get back home."
Instead of further cutting prices, Harley invested heavily in quality, retooling factories, and retraining hundreds of workers -- and in time, Harley quality and reliability became industry benchmarks.
But that was made possible only by first making great products. Saying you provide outstanding quality is a waste of time unless you actually provide outstanding quality. Do that, and your company's brand speaks for itself.
Which is the key to any successful rebrand. Even though great branding alone is never enough to make a company succeed, terrible branding can doom an otherwise great company to failure.
Make sure your brand truly reflects the amazing experience you provide your customers.