I was recently asked to contribute my thoughts to an article on re-branding being written by a local chamber of commerce. I was flattered and began to ask for more details. The chamber’s marketing director said, “I hope it’s OK that you’re one of three experts whose input we’re seeking.” My thought was “Hmmm, there are experts other than me?” She then went on to say “The article will end up being about 600 words long.” My thought was “Hmmm, I can’t say hello in less than 600 words. 🙂
Seriously though, it is a challenge for me to advise on re-branding (or branding) with too little explanation. There is so much to discuss and I’m very passionate about the results which effective branding yields. Once I start I want to go on and on. I couldn’t for the article….but I can expand a little bit here.
Anyone who’s spent much time around me has heard me say “Your brand is your most valuable asset and needs to be treated as such.” Another favorite of mine is “If you don’t manage your own brand, someone else will.” No one can possibly know you or your brand as clearly and as passionately as you can. Not only that, not everyone has your best interests in mind and those that do may not have a truly accurate understanding of your brand and your goals.
My advice to anyone interested in branding their business (or themselves) is to first make certain that they know what branding is (and isn’t), what it can (and cannot) do for you and your business. A logo is not a brand. A catchy saying is not a brand. Your brand is your value proposition, your promise to the public, your reputation…in short your brand is the intangible sum of your attributes.
If you’re re-branding (or building a new brand) my very top line advice can be summarized in three words – Purpose, Perspective, and Patience.
What is the purpose of your re-branding? What is driving you to re-brand? What is and what isn’t working for you currently? I recommend to my clients that they engage in what I call a Branding Breakout (brand audit) as a first step. Think of this as a ‘balance sheet’ for your brand which begins to identify your brand’s assets and liabilities. Know your ‘why’ and know your objective(s) before you get too far down the re-branding road.
Seek fresh perspective from people that you trust and hopefully that are knowledgeable about branding and marketing. Another oft used phrase of mine is ‘Move the Flashlight.” I know that in my life things can begin to appear to me as ‘wallpaper’…things I’m so used to seeing I merely take it for granted that they’re fine as is or don’t even acknowledge. When we are used to seeing something only one way it is very beneficial to review it in a different light. It’s always smart to gain an idependent look, especially from a qualified expert. What’s most important, however, is to find someone who has your best interests at heart.
Lastly, have patience. Branding is a process and creates your greatest asset. Take the time to make certain that the changes you are looking to make truly reflect what’s best for your business. All too often businesses are reactive without taking a look at the long-term ramifications of what it is they are proposing to change. Re-branding is not a race. Rather it should be a methodical, intelligent adjustment to your business which will guarantee you more success as you move into the future.
Know your purpose, seek perspective, exercise patience and watch your brand thrive.