Have you looked at your own brand lately? Really stopped and looked at it closely, to see whether it’s still working for your business and making you look great?
Small businesses should check up on their brands at least once a year. It’s like spring cleaning your closet — you want to go through your wardrobe and make sure that you get rid of anything that’s worn out, doesn’t fit, is inappropriate, isn’t “you” anymore, or looks out of style. After you do that, you know that you have an entire closet full of clothes that make you look your best.
Your brand is your business’s wardrobe. It has a huge impact on how your clients see your business. So it makes sense to reevaluate your brand every year to see if it still works for you. In addition to regularly reviewing your brand, here are 5 other triggers that mean it’s time to examine your brand:
1. Your business has gone through fundamental changes. Your brand should be flexible enough to support your business through small changes — adding a new service that’s similar to your existing packages, for example. But if you’ve made major changes — like deciding to work with a different type of ideal client, or discovering a new, major differentiator for your brand — then your brand should be re-evaluated to take those changes into account.
2. Your brand just needs to “grow up”. Small businesses often go through “business adolescence” — a period of teenage growth and self-discovery, a few years into the business. Just like being a teenager, your business may get more difficult, suddenly start consuming more resources (you’ve seen a teenager empty the fridge, right?), or can start having challenges with clients. Often, companies will come out of this adolescent period with a new direction, personality, business structure, or even a new company mission and vision. If you feel like your company has been going through these growing pains, then you should probably examine your business and your brand.
3. You were never that comfortable with your brand to begin with. This is not to say that you have to love your brand — your brand should be designed to speak to your ideal clients, not to visually appeal to you personally. That said, you should certainly like your brand enough to not be embarrassed that it represents your business. You should never have to apologize for your brand, or be uneasy when a new client makes a comment about it. Also, if you don’t feel that your brand represents your business correctly, it’s time to re-evaluate.
4. Your brand doesn’t “speak” to your ideal clients. Perhaps your idea of your ideal client has changed. Or, maybe your brand was designed incorrectly from the start, and never really worked for your ideal clients. In any case, you find yourself gazing, longingly, at the clients you’d love to work with — you can see them, and find them, but they don’t seem to “get” that they should work with you. Meanwhile, the clients who are coming to you are great (and you love that you have clients!) but they’re just not perfect. Go back to your brand and really look at it through your ideal clients’ eyes. If you can’t do this yourself, then go find a few of your ideal clients and ask them directly about your brand — and what is and isn’t appealing to them.
5. The outside world has changed. If you’ve been in business for even a couple of years, then you’re probably all-too-familiar with this reason. Between the economy changing, climate concerns, technology changes and all sorts of other current affairs, many small businesses have found that their worlds have changed. This can show up as industry-wide changes, customer-buying changes, or a reduction in the need for your services. Instead of fighting against the change and looking at it as an obstacle to your success, look at how you can change your business and your brand to fit the new world — and come out on top.
If you’ve experienced any of these triggers, then it’s time to go through your business’s brand and to reevaluate whether it fits your business as well as possible.