I’m going to start this article with a few disclaimers and statements.
If you are undergoing a rebrand right now that is strategic, and mid-project with an agency please do not stop the project. It’s there for a purpose.
This article is aimed at startups who are building brands, products, services, but getting distracted with the minutia of creating pixel-perfect assets.
Don’t get me wrong, a solid brand can help you grow a global company & community from your bedroom by using perception to help legitamise what you’re doing. But as soon as that’s done… stop. Put the pens down and as This Week in Startups founder, angel investor and author Jason Calacanis says, “do the work”.
Rebrands will do very little to drive sales. They should set up the initial shop window and allow you to move into new/correct markets once you’re in one, not as a procrastination technique from building the business you wanted to start in the first place.
When is rebranding really needed? And when is it just a drain of your time?
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that I have rebranded my own company far more times than I should have and hindsight is a wonderful thing. The reason I started Yena is to help you all avoid the same mistakes I made when setting up.
In my first company, ironically a full-service, brand, design and digital agency, I was my own biggest client for the first 3 years of business.
My perfectionist tendencies made me care so much about my own brand being pixel perfect that I forgot the most vital part of running a business – to sell, do the work and get paid!
As a result, I stayed working part-time for the first three years of running my first business, because I was too blind to see that the time spent perfecting every little asset about my brand was time I could have spent out networking, building relationships, social currency, influence in the wider community and landing jobs as a result.
Looking back, I can see that now.
I can however also see that the learning experience it gave me, helped me to avoid the same mistake in this business. Yena has only rebranded once since starting and that wasn’t just a want it was a need, in order to keep up with current trends and position ourselves in the way we want to be seen.
We have no plans to do this again totally for a while. Adaptations will always happen as long as new assets are created but these will always follow strict brand guidelines and be minimal – allowing us to crack on and do the work that we love: Helping you all to start & grow remarkable businesses, and lower the chance of failure.
Sell first, brand later
It may seem a little odd coming from someone with a branding background but I truly believe now, after almost a decade in business, that people – for some reason – seem to forget the primary fundamental in running a successful business… to sell.
At its most basic, a business is something that sells stuff. Ideally for more than it costs to run the business (or it’s a failing business). Therefore, spending time & money on rebranding exercises before the business has the liquidity to worry about it is a fairly nonsensical thing to do.
I wish I could go back and tell myself that.
Poorly branded businesses can sell stuff.
Businesses with perfect brands, that don’t sell stuff, die.
What the experts say
We asked a few of our members who work in the design industry to tell us what they think people should consider when rebranding.
Tom Garland, from Arobase, the branding and graphic design agency, said to “Never underestimate the value of good typography! Your font choices or typography can often be a more powerful way of communicating your brand’s personality above any logo.”
Samantha Miles, a designer and founder of design community A Thousand Yellow Daisies, said “One of the biggest mistakes I see when companies start a rebrand is not taking the time to plan, understand their needs and create a clear concept and reason for the rebrand. I would always suggest that a company take the time to workout who they are, what the new brand should achieve and who their audience is as a bare minimum before starting a rebrand.”
Ryan Vaughan from Bristol-based brand agency, Lightbulb, explained that “It’s important to remember what a brand actually is. It’s not just a logo. Not a colour palette or sexy typography. No, a brand is a series of attributes or ‘feelings’ that a customer associates with your company based on the product / service received.
The reason brands are important is because of something called Customer Based Brand Equity. Or in other words the reason you will spend an extra £15 on a pair of Nike football boots is because Neymar wears them and you believe they will make you a better footballer.
Many see a brand as something that will make an instant impact akin to a diving contest but it’s more like a marathon. Think about brands as less visual and more emotional.”
Rather succinctly, Tom Williams of startup branding specialists, Tilt, said of the branding process: “Consistency is key to building trust and increasing influence”, explaining that all of the above factors may come into it but without consistency, brand impact is limited.