Before anyone starts filling up their Depends because I’m using the words “brand” and “change” in the same sentence, allow me to make a small disclaimer. You’re not going to find this article filled with statistics and facts supporting (or discouraging) a change to your brand. Instead, we’re going to talk about this like humans. Imagine that you and I are chatting about this casually over coffee. I would rattle off half of this with a British accent, because that’s what I do, and I highly suggest reading this article in a British accent, because it’s just more entertaining that way. Now see, it’s pretty clear already that this blog is no place for statistics. Off we go.
First, let’s just do a quick review to make sure we’re all on the same page of the same book about what a “brand” is. In the most broad sense, it’s everything you do to differentiate yourself from your competition. Everything – from your logo, all the way to the tone of your messaging – needs to tell the story of who you are. Let’s think about this for a second… who are you?
What’s your mission? What advantages do you offer? What problem are you solving for people? What feeling do you want to create? What’s your positioning in the market? Are you the value option? Are you the disruptor? All of these things make up who you are as a business and help to craft the “story” that should be conveyed to your prospects.
Before you read on – take a few minutes to answer the questions above, and supplement your answers with anything else that helps support your “story.” Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. Where can you go and not be bothered for a few minutes? Bathroom? Hey, do what you gotta do.
Welcome back! I hope you found a few minutes to put the world on pause and answer those very important questions. Oh wait – you never left? You just kept on reading and thought to yourself “oh I don’t really need to do that – I’ll just keep reading.” Seriously, c’mon now. The rest of this article is going to have a MUCH greater impact if you take those few minutes to seriously answer the questions. So do it. Let’s try this again.
Ok. At this point, we’re operating on the honor system. I’m going to trust that you did the right thing, knowing that if you didn’t – you’ve chosen to live with the consequences of your actions.
Now that you’ve reminded yourself of who you are (which is a great exercise to do periodically), answer one more question:
WHAT STORY IS YOUR BRAND ACTUALLY TELLING?
That’s a tough one to answer objectively, so if you can, ask some outsiders to look at your brand and give feedback about the story they’re actually receiving. You might be shocked to hear what they have to say. You might not. If you’re brand is way off, you probably already have a pretty good Quasimodo-sized hunch, and the rest of this article is going to be most helpful to you. If you’re brand is spot on, I’m super proud of you, and we’re done here.
If your brand is NOT accurately representing what you WANT your story to be, is it okay to change? ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY.
Think about your personal brand. Whether you realize it or not, you do have one. The style of your clothes, the way you talk, your hobbies, your job, your family – they all tell the story of who you are, and you probably take great care in crafting that story. Do you drive that car for a reason? Did you wear those clothes today for a reason? Of course you did – it’s part of who you are – your style – your IDENTITY. So what happens when something doesn’t accurately represent who you are? What happens when you get that sweater as a gift that’s just… not your style? What happens when you get married? Have kids? You change. Your clothes change. The way you talk changes. Your car changes.
YOU DON’T KEEP THE THINGS THAT DON’T FIT, BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT “YOU.” SO, WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU KEEP A BRAND THAT DOESN’T FIT YOUR BUSINESS?
Your answer might be “fear.” As a small business owner, I can relate. Changes in the business (vs my personal style) are 1000X more likely to give me heartburn. I’ll think a lot longer before shaving my business beard off than I will my personal beard (not a thing, just bitter about shaving my beard off). But if we’re talking about a 1000X multiplier, wouldn’t that apply to positive changes as well? While the multiplier is obviously pulled from my boot (still reading in British?), the point here is that it’s scary BECAUSE it’s that much more important.
Think about your ideal prospect for a moment. Let’s put your current brand and the ideal brand (the one that tells your real story) in front of them. Which brand do you think they’ll choose to solve their problem?
If your current brand is doing more harm than good, change it. Sure, there’s going to be a cost associated with changing your brand. The real question here is “what’s the cost of NOT changing your brand?”