What’s In a Brand? When and How to Rebrand Your Business

Cecilia Nysing

When William Shakespeare wrote his famous ‘What’s in a name’ line, he probably hardly envisioned that the names of his characters would sell all kinds of consumer goods and services some four hundred years later. From Hamlet cigars to Ariel washing powder, we have lots of brands pointing back to Shakespeare’s massive legacy but at the same time proving that he was not so right. Names are important, and brands especially so.

Why branding matters

We at Lemon.io know first hand that a good brand matters. There are hundreds of great products out there that did not survive the competition because of insipid marketing and inconsistent brand presentation. On the other hand, we get firmly attached to products with remarkable brand identity regardless of their practicality as they tap into our emotions, communicate reliability, and speak to our anticipation. This brutal truth of life is no different for the B2B sector and, in particular, the vetted freelance hiring niche we operate in.

A good brand will instantly tell your story, create rapport with the right audience, give your business purpose and direction, build customer confidence, boost employee morale, and generate more revenue. A good brand is your protection suit, a pillar of strength, a sure competitive edge over other players in your niche. Given all these undeniable benefits, it would be unwise to underestimate the perks of good branding from the very start.

But what if the original brand was not accurate enough or somehow lost its magic, or rather stopped catering to your business’ objectives? However painful the memory, we have been there. In the situation of the growing tedium, rebranding our business was a real game-changer. Just within ten months after launching our Lemon.io brand, we reached almost 60% of the total traffic benchmark gained in the previous five years. The results were amazing indeed. Just take a look at this graph.

Without diminishing the importance of sheer luck and the right timing, we believe that we have done a great job. A new brand brought us confidence, inspiration, a sense of meaning and purpose, not to mention the enviable influx of leads. And while rebranding your business can be a risky venture, sometimes it can do wonders if not save the business entirely. But how do we know if it’s high time to give your brand a facelift? Here are some of the tell-tale signs that helped us kick start the process before getting into some drama.

Your current brand does not attract the desired audience or is not growing fast enough

That’s probably the most prominent sign for you to think about rebranding as numbers matter. We arrived at the idea of rebranding while trying to increase our conversion rate by amplifying our content. We believed that richer, more outstanding content would steepen our ‘slow but sure’ growth curve. However, very soon we realized that to get a solid peak, we needed something more radical: a complete revamp, perhaps.

Content is king, of course, but what’s a king without his throne? We needed the throne.

The brand lacks authenticity

If your brand identity seems bland and generic, maybe it’s time to make it stand out from the crowd.

Several years into our journey as a vetted freelance marketplace, we realized that our design resembled 99% of other players in the niche and well beyond it. We were stuck in the so-called ‘Corporate Memphis’ – a design aesthetic mostly featuring flat cartoon-like figures with extra long limbs and unpronounced facial features – safe, boring, and extremely overused by startups and in the visual world at large. What was supposed to communicate approachability and openness soon started to impart the wrong impression of unoriginality.

When we contacted the best designer we knew and asked him if he could help us redesign our blog, the answer was a straight-out ‘No’: a redesign would not get us anywhere, so we were in for some big changes.

Something in your current brand draws the wrong kind of attention

There are plenty of situations when a brand can get enough publicity but it turns out rather controversial. If this attention becomes overwhelming and has an uncontrollable effect on your businesses’ reputation, a fresh start may be the most viable way out.

Before rebranding, we went under the name of Coding Ninjas. No, we did not share anything with our namesake, the well-known Indian programming school, but for the traffic we were trying to attract. Rather, we brought this name from Linkedin of 2015, when ‘ninjas’, ‘rockstars’, and ‘wizards’ still sounded cool. At the onset of our journey, we had many other important things to attend to, so we just let it be. Now that many companies’ content guidelines clearly advise against those fancy words, clinging to Coding Ninjas as a brand name would be an act of self-sabotage. The need for rebranding was not just looming on the horizon, it was standing tall in our doorway, impossible to ignore.

No particular story behind

We all like stories. They create an immersive experience and appeal to our rational and irrational parts with reliable consistency and riveting plot twists. A well-developed narrative is essential for every successful brand. Coding Ninjas, however, did not tell any particular story: it just did its work matching some coding ninjas with those who would put their skills to good use. After rebranding to Lemon.io, we got accused of Freemasonry and secret contracts with the devil, generated loads of edgy marketing ideas, and received piles of inspiring messages from our followers celebrating our creativity and quirky sense of humor. Life has been anything but boring ever since.

You want to tap into a different audience

As human beings, we change all the time. We sometimes grow to like things we would have never given a second glance before and begin to want something completely different. With businesses, one can absolutely expect the same situation. If your business changes or you have fine-tuned your desired brand demographic and want to tap into it more effectively, a rebranding might be an option. Before switching to Lemon.io, we worked out more tangible brand and customer personas, which eventually helped us make better choices and hit the right spots.

Should we rebrand yet?

Of course, rebranding is not a magic wand, and in some cases it can be a daunting perspective as this is a resource-consuming process. If you struggle over a Hamletian dilemma of whether or not to rebrand your business, here are some of the circumstances that should prompt a plain ‘No’ answer:

  • You have accumulated significant brand equity. In this case, rebranding would make little sense as your business would literally go from ubiquity to obscurity.
  • Nothing has changed in your business. A brand should reflect the essence of your business. If it works, don’t fix it.
  • You are just tired of the old logo. Not substantial enough for the entire rebranding campaign in most cases.
  • Your competitors are rebranding. Remember the ‘corporate Memphis’? Your brand image may turn out even less conspicuous if you go with the herd mentality. Sometimes you just need to stop running to arrive.

And here are some factors that definitely played to our benefit when we decided to rebrand, so they deserve a sure ‘Yes’:

  • Your business hypothesis works out.
  • You already have a business that has earned you enough resources to launch the rebranding process.
  • You are not very famous yet. This might be an unpleasant thought, but in this case the risks are low as no one will notice.
  • You have studied your audience and decided on the long-term goals and the overall concept.

If you are thinking about rebranding your business and have checked the majority of points in the ‘Yes’ section, then it’s your sign to get it going.

The process of branding/rebranding

Creating a brand is a manifold process. First, you need to create a brand persona and a brand mascot. Then, you have to understand how these two people or characters interact in their lives. A BPBD map will help you understand the buying decisions of your brand persona and know which behavior would likely put them off. A brand essence matrix will account for all the whys and hows of your business’ existence. After that, you need to come up with a brand story, which will effortlessly lead you to the most suitable naming.

Personas

These two are the main characters in your story. Writing a compelling story is the surest way to build a brand that would be liked by many.

Your brand persona is the main character of your story, who would encounter some sort of Evil, or simply obstacles, on the way to their goal. The main character needs an ally – a brand mascot – who would help them to overcome all hardships and eventually reach their goals.

Story

Once you have worked out your characters, you have to think of their roles in each other’s lives and what they fight for, or against, together. For example, “Jake is a graduate student. He is also a party animal. He enjoys his intense social life, but he also wants to advance with his studies. He wishes he could have more hours in the day for everything he wants to do, so he suffers from FOMO all the time. His best friend Lisa is great at time management and mindfulness practices, so she will help Jake plan his day better and find healthy ways to balance his nervous system.”

BPBD map

Brand persona’s buying decision map is the list of the reasons that would prompt your target audience to buy something from you and also the reasons that would definitely tell them not to. These usually are two different maps.

Here’s what our ‘would buy’ map looks like:

Every time you think of the reason why a brand persona would or would not buy your product, break it into more ‘whys’ – this way you will get to the core reasons.

Brand essence matrix

This is your brand’s elevator pitch that will help you communicate your brand values.

You can use a simple formula below to demonstrate what your product does and whom it caters to:

For [your brand persona] who wants to be [his goal/who he wants to be in life]

We are the [what your product is for him]

Allowing him to [how you help him reach his goal?]

Because we are the only ones who [your unique offer or advantage]

All in all, branding or rebranding is a much more complex task than it can seem from our story. There are traps and pitfalls on the way. However, with clever planning, the right timing, and enough resources, you have a chance to rejuvenate your business and create a brand that will really make a statement, unite your team, and bring you more positive publicity. Since as we know, ‘a victory is twice itself if the achiever brings home full numbers’.


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