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How to Rebrand Successfully

Transcript 

Kathy (host): 
Hey there, and welcome back to Help! My Business is Growing, a podcast where we explore how to grow and build a business that is healthy, and sustainable. I'm your host, Kathy Svetina.
 

Kathy (host):
Branding is one of the first things we notice about any business. And while there is a lot of advice on establishing a brand identity when you're just starting your business, what happens when you have to rebrand further down the line because you've grown? Rebranding - while similar to branding - is a different process. It's when a company decides that its current marketing strategy and brand identity might no longer be the right fit, and it's time to refresh. And while it sounds simple enough, it can be a veritable minefield of disaster if you don't do it right.

Kathy (host):
And as I always say, whatever you do in the business, at the end, it will always end up in your finances. You want to make sure that when you're doing this, you're doing this in the right way, not just because it's going to affect your business down the line. But also because rebranding and branding, in general, come with a significant cost as well. You want to make sure that you're using those funds well. In effect, the rebrand will not only provide your company with a new logo or look but you're also going to get a new brand identity, that it's more aligned with your business's values and the services that you provide to your customers now that you have actually grown.

Kathy (host):
And you can harness goodwill and enthusiasm for your employees, you can attract more customers, and it will set you up for further business growth and success meaning that you will also more likely than not have more profit and more cash. So see it everything is related. Every single thing that we talked about this on this podcast, really is related to finances. The question is here, how do you start an effective rebrand?

Kathy (host):
And just a quick reminder, if you want to take home some of the informative tips from our guests today. And trust me, there's a lot of them. All of the episodes on this podcast, including this one, come with timestamps for topics that we discuss and each one comes with its own blog post as well. You can find all the links and the detailed topics in this episode's show notes.

Kathy (host):
Our guest today is Kelly Wittman. Kelly is a Brand Strategist, Visual Designer, and Owner of Witt and Company, a brand strategy and design studio that helps small business owners amplify their purpose through consistent and cohesive branding. Before the unplanned start of her business in 2017, she spent six years in marketing, event management, and fundraising, specifically in the nonprofit and startup space. Now, she happily wears the title of ‘unemployable’, is proud to have a business that supports her life, and is on a mission to help entrepreneurs create their version of success. Join us.

Kathy (host): 
Welcome to the show, Kelly.

Kelly (guest): 
Hi, Kathy. Thank you so much for having me on.

Kathy (host): 
Thank you so much for being here. You're a branding expert and there's a lot of branding advice out there for new businesses that are just starting or they're new on the branding journey. And before we started this conversation, we talked about that there's not much guidance when you already have an established business and are actually looking for a rebrand because that might be a different process. What I really wanted to focus on in this conversation is rebranding, is it needed? What do you do it? And when do you do it? How do you do it? Like all about the rebrand? When people come to you for rebrands, what is it that triggers it and what are some of the issues that happen in their business that triggers that rebrand?

Kelly (guest): 
I've loved this topic so much. And this is really, where to your point, where my studio really supports business owners. I want to start with getting on the same page or at least articulating what how we define your brand, which then helps to articulate and understand when it's a good time to rebrand. When I think about the idea of the brand, it's how people think, feel and act in relation to your business. The rebrand process then is really intentionally changing those thoughts, those feelings, those actions, that perception of your brand. And if you're in this space of "Okay, should I, shouldn't I", the number one question that I love to ask clients is "Why is your current brand not working?" And that usually guides us into that conversation around? Is it are you not attracting the right clients? Are you not able to get yourself out there and show up for your business in a way that really excites you? A very tangible not is if you're scared or embarrassed to send people even to your website because it really doesn't portray the experience that you want people to have or the amazing work that you're doing. It's really getting to this idea Have your current brand is not serving you and it doesn't accurately reflect the work that you do or the experience that you want people to have.

Kathy (host): 
And when we talk about branding, I know a lot of people think about, the colors, the logo, the website, and these are all kind of, well as least visible if not tangibles.

Kelly (guest):
Right.

Kathy (host):
But is there something else that someone should think about? Is there a certain feel? How do you change how people think about your brand and how they're feeling in terms of I know, you can go through different logos and websites, but is there anything else that you could be thinking of, and maybe it's not so obvious?

Kelly (guest): 
Yes. This is such a great question. And you're right. When we think of branding, we often think of the external brand, but I like to define your brand. And really, it helps you visualize your brand from an internal perspective. What goes on behind the scenes, and then the external perspective is what people see externally, which is the logos, the fonts, the colors, and the website.

Kelly (guest): 
Oftentimes, when we get to this space of my brand isn't serving me any longer. It's usually because the internal brand, what happens behind the scenes isn't up to date. And this is everything from your strategy. What is the communication plan for your brand? Your messaging? How are you articulating that communication plan, and then your personality? This is I use with my clients a principle called seasonal brand theory, which really helps you identify what is your brand's personality, and then together, those three elements are really helped to guide and reinforce and embody the external.

Kelly (guest): 
Based on your strategy, based off of your message based on your personality, and all of that internal work behind the scenes, we then create aligned visuals. Usually what clients will see is the external brand isn't serving them. The logo doesn't feel right, the colors really aren't embodying the feelings that they're looking for, like I said, the website, they're embarrassed to send people to there, that's usually the external facing stuff. But the problem is most often behind the scenes that internal work has shifted, and the organization's trajectory is shifting. And that's why the externals no longer are serving them. Does that answer your question?

Kathy (host): 
Yeah, yeah, it does. And you talked about also a little bit about personality. And usually, the businesses that I've worked with, they're not small, small, but they're small. And I guess if you compare them to like a Fortune 500 company, so I mean, they usually they've already had a million to 10 in revenue. And there's usually a founder that has a personal taste, and they really like certain things. What I noticed is a lot of people struggle with balancing their personal tastes versus the clientele that they're trying to serve. What's the balance between they like, and what should you be like focusing on? How do you marry those two? That's my question.

Kelly (guest): 
But such a great question. And a very common problem that a lot of organizations, again, when we get to this idea of growing and scaling phase, separating the personal, and the founder from the brand. I like to think of them as two separate entities. We have the personal brand of the founder. And then we have the brand personality of the business. And that's really where you get to make that decision. It's a challenging one.

Kelly (guest): 
But as the founder, you get to decide how much of your personality do you want in your business. And how much of your personality do you want to be the founder? The benefit of keeping them distinct is often when you get to that scale you have and will have other team members representing your brand on your behalf. It's not just you anymore. When you can really clearly articulate the personality of your brand, it helps you then streamline and scale and grow, while maintaining that consistent and cohesive experience externally.

Kelly (guest): 
Regardless, if you have a copywriter, writing a website, writing copy on your website, or you have a graphic designer, creating graphics for social media. When you have a consistent, well-articulated brand personality, they'll be able to do their job with consistency while maintaining that experience. And it doesn't have to be you.

Kelly (guest): 
So yes, keep them separate, and you get to decide and that's part of the process of really honing in on what my brand is all about. Making those decisions about what you want that experience to be.

Kathy (host): 
And how would this look like in practicality of when you trying to put your brand on paper so to speak, when you're trying to communicate exactly, "This is my brand. This is what I stand for." How does this look like? Do you have a document somewhere? How does this in practicality look like? Especially if you started building the business as a personal brand, and now you have to go and make sure that everyone is on the same page because I always like to say like, "The best way in business is if you have everyone on the same page, whether it be finances, operations, marketing, whatever it is so that everyone's going into the same direction. Otherwise, as you know, people go into their own little world and there's a mess." Right?

Kelly (guest): 
Yes. And to your point, getting everyone on the same page, especially when it comes to that internal brand, is to literally write the page. Oftentimes, what I find with my clients is they have their brand in their head, they know what it's all about and that's the challenging piece of taking it out of their head and actually putting it on paper. It can be very nerve-wracking because that means you have to actually make the decision. However, that's really from a practical standpoint. How you really create a brand that supports your business and that other people can then utilize to have that consistent experience?

Kelly (guest): 
When we work with clients, we give them two separate documents. The first is their brand playbook and this really digs into their strategy. As I mentioned, that communication plan, which is who are you serving, really defining and articulating that ideal client that target market? Why does the work matter? Getting clear on "Okay, are you showing up day in and day out?" Does this really get into the values that you hold sacred as a business? What are you offering? It's not necessarily the tangible deliverables, but really the transformation.

Kelly (guest): 
So yes, we're selling branding support. But the transformation is that we're giving our clients implementation documentation so that they're excited to show up for their business. So it's not just those deliverables.

Kelly (guest): 
And then that last component of how do you want people to feel when they experience your brand. So getting into those adjectives, I want them to feel excited or calm or relaxed or organic, natural getting into those adjectives that really helped to define the personality.

Kelly (guest): 
The second half of that playbook is the messaging. What is the common thread that's woven into all of your brand communication touchpoints? And what are the beliefs that you hold true as a brand? What are those narrative shifts that you want people to make, because of coming in contact with your brand? So that's the playbook.

Kelly (guest): 
And then we also will provide, which I recommend doing as well, both of these are things that you can do on your own. Yes, you can hire support. But these are great reference guides and documents that you can have circulate within your team.

Kelly (guest):  
The other half of that is your brand guidelines, and that's more of the visual. The external facing of this is how we use our logo. These is the variations that we have with our logo, these are the colors that we use, these are the colors, this is how we use the colors and the pairings, things like that.

Kelly (guest): 
By having both the internal and the external, you're able then to give them to your team that they can reference whether you're hiring employees, or you have contractors to really maintain that consistency. Because again, when we get back to this idea of what is a brand, it should be supporting your business. And the way that it does that is by creating a consistent, cohesive experience that builds trust with the right people.

Kathy (host): 
And let's say that you've done the work, you have the playbook. Now, you have rebranded, you've gone through all this, and it probably takes months, I would guess to do this. How do you know that it has been successful? And when would you see the results of that? Because my assumption is that it's not immediate. It's not like "Today, I'm going to rebrand, and tomorrow, there's going to be people knocking on my door saying how much I love my brand." What is that timeline that you think is reasonable to see that the rebrand is working? And that it's doing well?

Kelly (guest): 
That's such a great question. And I'm gonna give the answer that everyone hates, and it depends. I think it depends on the size of the organization.

Kelly (guest):  
If you're a large organization with a large team, there's going to be a ripple effect as people start implementing what the brand is all about, and that changes, versus if you're a small organization, and you're relatively agile, you can make the changes quickly, and you'll see the results easier or quicker, right. And they're more effective.

Kelly (guest): 
And it also depends on your audience size in terms of is there a wide audience and or that it takes more to build that brand awareness or if you have a smaller audience that can be it more engaged with your organization.

Kelly (guest): 
So it depends, but I always recommend at least give it a year because to your point, it does take several months to go through the rebranding process, and to do it well. Yes, you can go out there and get a new logo and say that you've rebranded but if you actually going in and doing the internal work, and then pushing it out externally, it does take a while.

Kelly (guest): 
And the other piece of that is then getting the team on board and making sure that they understand why did we do this in the first place, and what are these new expectations for creating that consistent brand experience. I would say a year just to make sure that everything has really been ingrained, and that that new experience is what you want.

Kelly (guest): 
That being said I've seen and I've experienced in myself, when we've gone through our own rebranding, when you are excited about your business, and you're excited about the way that it looks, and you have clarity on what you're saying, I think you can see results fairly quickly. Specifically, as the founder or even the team, when you create that consistent experience, people understand what you're all about. And they build that trust, and they actually get what you're doing as a brand. It's easier to take action, it's easier for them to take that next step.

Kelly (guest): 
Because they get it, the message is clear whether they go to your website, whether they see a webinar, whether they meet you in person, whether they go to social media, or when they have that consistent experience, which is usually one of the catalysts for we need to rebrand is because our messaging is all over the place. Our visuals are all over the place. When you have that consistency. Everything else gets more streamlined, and your audience is better able to understand what you're all about and take that next right step.


Kathy (host): 
Have you seen rebranding that has gone exceptionally well? And I like to ask this because I always like to see the two sides - things that have gone wrong and things that have gone like exceptionally well, so that people understand, like, what are some of the things that they should be really, really careful about when they're doing the rebranding? And what is the result when it goes like really, really well. If we can focus on, like, really exceptionally well-done branding, and what has it done for the client?

Kelly (guest): 
We're actually working with an organization right now. They are a nonprofit based here in Minneapolis, and it's going, I'll share why it's going really well, even as we're in the process. The whole team is on board, specifically the comms (communication) team. Yes, I'm working directly with a development director. But the executive director is getting in on workshop calls. The other three participants on the communications team, the Development Director, Fundraising team, they're all bought in, which is what helps to support an entire rebrand.

Kelly (guest): 
The other piece and the feedback that we've gotten from them is that they're able to better articulate their work and understand who they're really talking to. We're in the middle of the website process. And something as simple, it's simple, right? But it's not an easy question to help them define what is the primary goal of your site. And getting even that clear? On that one question, will again streamline all of their communication. What goes into their website, what's not in their website, and getting everyone on the same page, so that the entire brand is working in the same direction rather than having one department talk about this as the most important piece of the brand. One department talk about this and has all of those more siloed effect, rather than getting everyone on the same page.

Kathy (host): 
That's interesting, the goals of the website? Can we talk a little bit more about that? Like, what are some of the different goals that people can have in the website? And how does that drive how the website is done?

Kelly (guest): 
I'll use them as an example. As a nonprofit organization, there's a lot of different stakeholders, right? And even as a service provider, or if you're selling software, generally there's more than one purpose or intent for having a website. And why we ask that question is to define what is the primary goal. Is it to serve donors? Is it to get people to book a consultation call? Is it to get them to sign up for your email list? Because that's the primary revenue driver of your business? Is it to have podcast downloads, because podcast sponsors are the way that you make money.

Kelly (guest): 
So thinking through what is the number one goal that your website should be supporting, and laying out and being intentional about the content and the calls to action that you have on your site that support that goal. If I say my primary goal is to have someone book a consultation, or call with me, I should make sure that front and center when someone gets to my homepage, that's the number one call to action that is there. They know without a doubt, that is their next right step that I am guiding them on. I think about the website as really a story and a roadmap for how someone engages with your business. Thinking about what is that number one action? And then what's the secondary that my website should be supporting? Oftentimes, I think we have our website and we just throw information up there and not realizing that the website is one of the best tools for you to utilize to support you and your business. As long as you're strategic and intentional about what it needs to be doing.

Kathy (host): 
And let's talk a little bit about we talked about if someone wants to book a consultation that you want to drive and towards, but how is that different from let's say, if your goal is to get people on the email list, how would those two websites differ consultation versus an email list? What would they look like, in reality, when you go on them? How would that look like?

Kelly (guest): 
Yeah, that's a great question. Even as simple as would consider the header area. Above the fold, right, so before you start scrolling language, if the primary goal is to have someone book a consultation call, I would say, I can use my own business for examples with brand strategy and design services for purpose-driven businesses, and then the call to action right underneath is "Let's work together." Versus if my newsletter is the primary function of my business, I'll go to the website and say, "Join, you know, 15,000 other great business owners who find value in what the branded chat is all about", and then "Join the newsletter" is the primary call to action above the fold.

Kelly (guest): 
So again, it's just thinking through something as simple as before people start scrolling, what do they see when they first get to your website? And what is that main call to action that you're driving them towards? And then in terms of the actual content, as they're going through the site, I would make sure that I have more calls to action about booking a call or joining the newsletter, as we're going through and as they're scrolling through the homepage or the other internal pages that they have making sure that that primary goal is top of mind versus the secondary goal, or whichever one is most important for you.

Kathy (host): 
And let's say that you've done all of this again, and what have you seen that people really struggle with? When they go through this process? Is it one particular thing, especially when you work with clients that comes off over and over and over again, that they really, really struggle with this process?

Kelly (guest): 
Hmm, that's such great. I love all of your questions are so tactical and practical. Yes, the number one problem and the number one, and I wonder if you find this to in your work with clients of defining who they're for, I often hear well, I'm for everyone, or I'm for this person, this person and this person. And as I think about the functionality of your brand, and really what we believe at Witt and Company, is that it should be supporting you and reaching your right audience. Your right audience is not everyone. The clearer you can be on who you are for, the more intentional and strategic your brand can be. Because depending on if you're serving New moms versus if you're serving corporate executives, the messaging is going to be different. The personality that you want to use to attract those types of people will be different, the visuals that you use will be different. Everything, every other component, and all of the elements that go into your brand are affected by your target audience and who you want to attract.

Kathy (host): 
Yeah, I love that. And I've seen sometimes with businesses, they don't want to turn business away, especially as they're growing. They're like, well, we can work with everyone. The problem is when you want to work with everyone, sometimes you end up working with no one.

Kelly (guest): 
Yes, exactly. And I often think we forget that it's a two-way street, the ideal client or not even the ideal client, thinking through like the functionality of your website. Someone can go to your website who doesn't necessarily fall into your audience, and they are still empowered to make a decision of whether or not they want to take that next step.

Kelly (guest): 
I use myself and our studio as an example, we specifically work with service providers, personal brands, and nonprofit organizations. But when you go to my website, nonprofits not on there, we really call out that service provider, people who are experts in their space, that doesn't mean that we don't get people outside of that area inquiring. But that's our job, right, is to really communicate whether or not we can support them. Yes, they might fall outside our niche and our area of expertise. But if they have a certain problem that we can still support them with, we're just transparent of this is outside of our normal realm. However, we'd love to work with you because you seem really cool. And I think we would have fun together.

Kelly (guest): 
It's really getting into this idea of the whole the purpose, again, back to the purpose of our brand is to really support and position us as experts for a certain audience, and then our audience. And if someone falls outside of that, they still get to make that decision of if they want to make the next right step and what are, you know, primary calls to action are and whatever that looks like for our business.

Kathy (host): 
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Before you even start doing all of that, we talked about the rebranding, but and I want to go back to the beginning. And I know I'm jumping a little bit all over because I got so many questions about this. And as you're talking like things pop into my head, so I'm hoping that the listeners can follow my thought process here. But what are some of the techniques that you can use to figure out how other people are experiencing your brand? So that can guide you to figure out like, what direction I need to go to rebrand so that they can really resonate with me and my business?


Kelly (guest): 
Well, I think the first kind of cursor is if you're not attracting the right people. Thinking through the last six months or a year or three months, depending on the frequency of the client work that you're doing, and thinking about who's coming in? And are they saying yes? Or are they saying no? Are they a good fit? Or are they aren't they a good fit? And that's really a great cursor and catalyst for "Okay, I don't think the way that my external brand is being portrayed is aligning with or attracting my right people." And that's kind of the that's, I think, the most obvious cursor or sign that your brand isn't serving you and supporting your business.

Kelly (guest): 
Another tangible, I think, would be to go to your website and look at your Google Analytics. Are people getting on your site? Are they bouncing away quickly? Are they engaging with your site? Are they going through the different pages? Or they're just doing landing on one and then leaving? Where are they coming from? So thinking through that marketing, in terms of how people are engaging with your website? And is it serving its purpose? Those are usually the two most common reasons that we get people coming to us as my website's not working for me, or I'm not attracting the type of people that I want to work with. Does that answer your question?

Kathy (host): 
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it does. And you give us a lot of good material here, and super practical, tactical advice. But there's always one thing that asked every single guest on this podcast is, if someone were to try to do what we talked about today - rebrand themselves, what is the one thing that they can do in the next week? Something tangible, something simple, to get them closer to that goal?

Kelly (guest): 
That's such a good question. And we've talked a lot about this, right, is this idea of your ideal client? And that would be my number one tip is to write down who you want to be a great fit for. The number one problem that you're helping them solve by understanding just those two elements that will help you get a clearer foundation, or at least put you on the path of the trajectory of understanding whether or not your brand is serving you. Because if you realize who you are going to be a great fit for, and what you're helping them solve that will then trickle down into all of the other elements of your brand. And you can determine, decide, and start experimenting with whether or not the different aspects of your brand are serving that right person.

Kathy (host): 
Awesome. Kelly, thank you so much for this. Where can people find you?

Kelly (guest): 
Thank you so much, Kathy. This was so fun. I love talking about branding. Yes, the best place to connect with us and get into it in the company's world is either on LinkedIn, or it's Kelly M. Whitman. My personal LinkedIn is a great place to connect. Otherwise, our website is Witt and Company, and we have a newsletter that we send out called the Branded Chat every Friday. That's another great place to connect with us and continue this brand, branding conversation, and learning about how branding can support your business.

Kathy (host): 
Awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show, Kelly.

Kelly (guest):
Thanks, Kathy.

Kathy (host): 
Thanks again for joining us on this episode of Help! My Business is Growing and I hope that this episode has given you great insights on rebranding and how you can apply to your business how even start that process because I know it can be daunting.

Kathy (host): 
Next week, we're going to turn the spotlight on ourselves, and my guest, Erica Castner is going to talk about personal branding, and how we can help you effectively not just present yourself, but also your business to the world.

Kathy (host): 
And if you love this episode, you can find all the timestamps, show notes blog posts, and links on my website, newcastlefinance.us. And before I go, I do have a favor to ask if you're listening to this on Apple podcasts. If you could please go to the show, and tap the number of stars that you think the show deserves. I asked that because it really helps the algorithm and it helps other people find it as well and benefit from it. Thanks so much. Until next time.