Rebranding is somewhat inevitable for B2B (business-to-business) startups and scaleups. Sometimes there’s a shift in focus, or sometimes it missed the mark for branding in the first place.
Regardless of the reason, rebranding requires a significant investment of time and resources. So before you leap into a rebrand, let’s take a step back and assess where your business is at, where you want it to be, and see if a rebrand is needed to get you there.
Brand strategy is critical to rebranding a business
We would be remiss if we talked about rebranding a business without emphasizing the importance of brand strategy.
Your brand strategy helps you make informed, strategic decisions about the direction and future of your brand. And if you aren’t 100% clear on strategy, you won’t be able to recognize the signs indicating when or how to rebrand your business. Brand strategy encompasses your core brand elements:
- Brand positioning
- Brand differentiators
- Brand voice
- Brand character
- Competitive review
- Audience personas
- Visual brand identity
These form a blueprint for your brand, something you can frequently refer back to and confirm that your business is still on track towards its goals.
Okay, we’re now assuming you have a defined brand strategy. If you don’t, give us a call. Otherwise, check out these 10 signs you might need to consider rebranding your business.
1. Your offering has changed
Let’s say you started your SaaS company with one use case. Maybe you were really good at delivering the solution for that use case and dedicated your branding and marketing efforts to telling the world about it. Your brand visuals might even be heavily tied to this offering (we generally recommend avoiding this).
But now you’ve found another use case (maybe in a different industry vertical) and want to go after that opportunity too. You might need to rebrand so that your brand is seen as the provider of more than one solution.
2. Your audience has shifted
If your brand no longer speaks to your target audience, you might need to rebrand.
Web design statistics tell us that today 73% of millennials play a role in decision making in B2B companies. But give it another 10 years. It’s almost certain that the B2B buyer audience will shift. These new buyers will have different needs and world views, and your brand may need to evolve to speak directly to them.
Review your target audience and audience personas (detailed descriptions of your ideal customers) regularly to assess whether your brand is still resonating with the right audience.
3. You look like your competitors
A successful brand is memorable in name, visuals, and experience. Otherwise, it’s easy to get swallowed up in a saturated market like SaaS marketing. In 2018 SaaS Mag reported that there were nearly 7,000 SaaS companies in the marketing space alone.
If a brand looks, feels, or performs like your competitors, rebranding a business can help set your brand apart.
4. Your bootstrapped brand can’t get you where you need to go
Maybe you had to bootstrap your brand to get it off the ground. That’s common. But it might be holding you back from scaling now. Maybe your offering has matured and you need to shift upmarket. Or your brand character isn’t resonating with your new audience the way it should. It’s normal for a startup to rebrand to a more mature, focused version of itself after graduating from those bootstrapping days.
5. You’re attracting the wrong customers
Your brand might look good and have a clearly defined target audience but still attract the wrong customer.
For example, a SaaS company has a slick team communications platform and its ideal customer is an enterprise business with 500+ employees. But over time the sales metrics are showing that the majority of customers are actually small to medium-sized businesses with 100 employees.
On the surface, the company is successfully attracting customers and making sales. But the company’s revenue target is dependent on an enterprise customer base. Attracting the wrong customers might put the company’s financial goals at risk.
A rebrand can help you accurately target your ideal customer by refining visuals, messaging, marketing strategies, etc. And as we mentioned earlier, audience personas help you hone in on who your ideal customer really is.
6. You’ve undergone a merger or acquisition
Mergers and acquisitions, while often financially beneficial for businesses, can confuse customers and leave them wondering whether company values or product offerings have changed too. A rebrand (including a fresh set of visuals and marketing) can help clarify these details. A merger or acquisition is also a good opportunity to tell the brand story: We used to be X and Y companies, now we’re this company.
7. You want to upgrade your image
Have you ever seen the before and after of Slack’s 2019 rebrand? Their original brand visuals were a bit messy and appeared inconsistent across their marketing channels. They were pretty open about it too. In Slack’s own words:
It was … extremely easy to get wrong. It was 11 different colors—and if placed on any color other than white, or at the wrong angle (instead of the precisely prescribed 18º rotation), or with the colors tweaked wrong, it looked terrible.
When Slack rebranded they kept certain elements, like their primary colour palette and general icon shape, but they remedied the aspects that were hurting their brand. The result was a far more cohesive and premium brand.
Brand guidelines can help prevent these inconsistencies from happening in the first place. They’re a set of clear and detailed recommendations for how your brand should be applied and appear out in the wild. And brands can quickly go off the rails without them.
8. Your vision has changed
Think of this one as a big red warning light. If your vision for the business has changed, you should recalibrate your brand to align with the new vision.
Let’s say you set out to be the best SaaS company for X, but now you want to be the best SaaS company for Y. Start by referring back to your core brand elements. It’s possible that elements of your brand strategy need to shift to realign your brand with the new vision. A rebrand may be needed to achieve this.
9. Your brand is outdated
If your company has been in business for 10+ years, there’s a chance your brand might appear boring or out of style (even though it was totally in when you started). An outdated brand identity can be unattractive to prospective buyers and cause them to look to a more modern competitor.
Remember that a rebrand doesn’t have to be a total overhaul. Even changing typography or tweaking the colour palette can shave years off your brand. Don’t worry, we’re talking aesthetic years, not experience.
10. Your messaging is unclear
In the words of Donald Miller from StoryBrand, “Nobody remembers a company that confuses them”. Is your brand story clear? Does your messaging pair well with design? Clear, concise messaging does wonders for a brand, and sometimes it helps to start with a fresh slate.
At Tiller, we offer Brand Strategy Workshops to draw key messaging out of our clients. We collaborate with company stakeholders to gain a deep understanding of the business and align on goals, target audiences, differentiators, and brand character. The insights we glean from the Brand Strategy Workshop enable us to create key messages that will inform website copy and additional marketing collateral.
More things to consider when rebranding:
- Preserve brand elements that are working in your favour. Rebranding a business doesn’t have to be a full overhaul. Even small changes can drive a huge impact.
- Don’t alienate your loyal customers during a rebrand. Clearly communicate why you are rebranding and how the rebrand may or may not affect them.
- Get your whole team up to speed on your rebrand. Let your employees know why the company is shifting and what the desired outcome from the rebrand is. This can help limit confusion and increase employee buy-in during seasons of change.
- Avoid basing your brand on something that may quickly be irrelevant. If your brand is built on the wrong foundation a rebrand may be required sooner than you’d like.
So… think you need to rebrand?
These signs are helpful indications that your business might be in need of a rebrand. But signs don’t tell the whole story. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a clearly defined brand strategy that helps you gauge whether your business is on or off track with your goals.
If you’re seeing any of the signs above (or you need help defining your existing brand strategy), we’d love to help.