Small Business Guide to Rebranding Your Business

If you run a shop, school, service, or non-profit, rebranding your business might seem like something other than Priority One. Maybe more like Priority Eight or Nine. Or Priority Never. You might think that rebranding a business is the purview of the big brands alone, like Coke and Pepsi, Nike and Adidas, Ford Motors and Mercedez-Benz, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. You know, those spending six million dollars for an ad during the Big Game. But this is a misnomer. Growing as a business, just like growing as a person or in a relationship, means rebranding regularly. As a small business, you might start with one logo or aesthetic, and later realize your audience responds better to something else, or that your logo or tagline no longer reflects what you’re offering. Cue the rebrand! Here we’ll give you easy tips on how to rebrand without breaking the bank or hiring a Fortune 500-level branding agency.  

What Is Rebranding?

Rebranding happens among people and personalities all the time: Think of the quiet, self-conscious kid in fifth grade who came into his own and turned heads junior year. Think of a banner sign on your favorite taco shop announcing, “under new management.”  Rebranding your business reflects a similar evolution and growth. It could be comprehensive, modernizing everything about your company including the logo and other brand elements, the physical space, the merchandise, the target audience, and supporting marketing strategy. It could be as simple as a new logo and color scheme, a new approach to the service you offer, or a new voice or tone used in your marketing. 

Steps for Successfully Rebranding Your Small Business

Think of your business, school, non-profit, or service as a person with a personality and a reputation. Who are you, really? And have some folks gotten the “wrong impression?” When it comes to your target audience, you want to be right on the money with respect to communicating who you are and what you’re all about.  Here’s a quick summary for time- and cost-efficient course correction: 

  1. Identify What’s Wrong: Are you not getting new customers? Are your products or services out of date? Is your quality bad? Is your customer service sub-par? Have a few angry Yelp’ers with time on their hands and reputations to ruin gotten their claws (er, comments ) onto your profile page?
  1. Is It True? If you have a reputation for carrying American Craftsman-style furniture but your inventory tends to look more modern Scandinavian these days, your rebrand needs simply to update your audience. On the other hand, if you have a reputation for poor customer service because, well, you do indeed have poor customer service, your rebrand is slightly more complicated.
  1. Is It Fixable? How to rebrand your small business will depend upon your capacity to address any aspects of your reputation that are working against you. In the customer service case above, you’ll want to identify if the perception is fixable, and if so, the steps you’ll take to remedy the problem, e.g., hire a new customer service person or team, change your policies around refunds and exchanges, improve your response time to calls and emails, etc. If the perception is not fixable, you’ll want to choose another aspect of your business to focus on, e.g., prices, delivery times, or quality.
  1. What Answer Did YOU Get? If your rebrand is a test, it’s okay to cheat by looking at the other kids’ work. Examine at other companies in your space. Let them inspire you. What do they do well? What do they offer that you’d like to offer? In which areas are you hitting homeruns?
  1. Who Are You Today? In any strong relationship both parties get reacquainted with each other every day. Your relationship with your customers is the same. Rebranding a business involves communicating with your customers and prospects about your ever-evolving offerings and values. Whether you’re in a traditional industry like, say, tax preparation, or a dynamic industry like fashion, your customers want to know what you value and where you’re putting your focus. This allows them to establish and maintain an emotional connection to you. If you’re in tax preparation: Are you upgrading your technology system to allow faster or more streamlined tax processing? If you’re in fashion, are you prioritizing ethically sourced fabrics or fair trade labor practices? Rebranding your business involves showing your customers who you are and what you care about. In order to define that and inform what you’d like to share, answer these questions:
  • What do you sell?
  • How do you do things differently?
  • What matters to you the most?
  1. Messaging: You don’t need to know what a tagline is to write one. Here’s the down and dirty cheat sheet for rebranding your business with easy messaging that hits the mark and doesn’t make anyone’s eyes glaze over:
  • New Tagline: Add something below your logo and signs. Something short, memorable, and related to what you do. A couple of good ones are Las Vegas: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; and Disneyland: The happiest place on earth.
  • New Value Proposition: How are you different from the competition?
  • Now Close Your Eyes and Picture This: If your donut shop were a character on Dancing with the Stars…. Just kidding. But you get the point. What’s the personality of your small business? And what changes have made a rebrand in order? Your brand has a personality, just like kids in high school, where reputation is king. Is your brand fun and fresh? Tried and true? Are you the wise old soul giving sage advice in the lunchroom, or the wild child break-dancing in Converse at the winter formal?
  • Logo, Colors, and All the Rest: Whether you’ve got full-on style guidelines or just a revised logo sketched up on Adobe Illustrator, a new look helps customers give you a second glance. The change can be subtle, even a simple color palette adjustment, but small tweaks turn heads.
  1. Let’s Roll! You’ve got your new reputation (AKA messaging) in mind. Now scream it from the rooftops! The fun part of rebranding your business is sharing your messaging. Do this through your website, store signage and decorations, direct mail, and promotional giveaways that reinforce the new you.

How to Rebrand Your Small Business with Promotional Products

Customized giveaways encourage customers and prospects to stop and take note of your company and your offering. If something has changed, a giveaway is a great place to announce it. Along with your logo, include your new tagline or new commitment.  For example, We never compromise on quality or Stellar service all day long. Below are a few consistent crowd-pleasers to launch your rebrand far and wide:  

Promotional Bright Alpha Soft Touch Pen with Stylus: Silver trim, bright barrel colors, and a color-matched stylus make this pen a great billboard for your new branding.  

Promotional Color Changing Tumbler w/ Lid – 16 oz: Pick your trim color and let dots all over draw attention to your new branding on the front of this trendy tumbler with lid and straw. 

Promotional 1.8 oz Hand Sanitizer with Carabiner: Rebranding requires a fresh look and fresh hands are right in line. This sanitizer attaches to a bag or belt loop so your new messaging is visible all around town. 

Economy Tote: Water Resistant Promotional Tote Bag: Water resistant and ready for everything from groceries to beach gear, this tote promises to sing your praises far and wide.  

Promotional Executive Focus Flashlight Pen: This two-in-one pen and flashlight means twice the exposure and double the brightness for your rebranded business!  

Souvenir® 3″ x 3″ Sticky Note™ 25 Sheet: This pad lets you rebrand in vivid full color, and get your messaging on every desk! 

Promotional Wooden Nickels with Custom Imprint: Leaving your old brand behind? Give them something to hang onto with a wooden nickel, customized with your old and soon-to-be collector’s item logo, or add your new logo with a discount offer for their next visit.  

How to Rebrand so Your New Reputation Sticks

The key to success is authenticity. Rebranding a business requires honesty. If you can’t back up your words with actions, go back to the white board and brainstorm some more. When you identify who you are today and how you’re different from your competition, the words will feel right and true, and the rebranding will feel organic and unforced. Rebranding should feel like a breath of fresh air for you and your customers. 

Rebranding your business is usually done every seven to 10 years. You can perform some tweaks, or brand repositions, as needed. Think of rebranding as putting a fresh coat of paint on your house, and brand repositioning as adding a new piece of furniture to that living room. Brand repositioning examples might include an ad campaign targeted to a new audience, or a new slogan focused on a new product line. Your rebrand and any repositioning should focus on an accurate and aspirational presentation of your small business, including updates and adjustments as you and the market change. Cheers to a rewarding, ever-changing, and long-lasting relationship between you and your customers! 

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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