4 Reasons you may need to blow up your branding and start over

Branding is one of those topics that many marketing people want to so carefully protect. That’s probably the right call when defending well-established brands, such as Coca Cola, Apple, and BMW. In those cases, companies have worked diligently to ensure alignment between capabilities/product/offer, the target audience, how the company executes, messaging, the creative design elements, and more. They have some degree of stability to the business. Even so, they do evolve their brands over time.  

Branding and Startups

Few companies, particularly in the B2B space I believe, establish such deeply engrained branding that customers would really notice –or be adversely affected– if some branding elements changed. Worse yet, many early-stage companies pivot through significant changes to business models and fail to go back and challenge their earlier branding decisions. Branding is indeed critical to startups and early-stage companies, but marketers can get too hung up on protecting earlier decisions for the sake of “protecting the brand” and they carry forth elements that are inappropriate.

This of course doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t be careful and consistent with branding, but if meaningful changes have occurred in the business then don’t be afraid to tweak, shift, or completely blow things up.

Those "meaningful changes" may include:
  1. Your company is changing markets – moving from one industry to another or from one industry to selling into multiple industries or moving from SMB to F500
  2. You are now selling to different key personas – moving from developer to corporate IT or individual salesperson to sales management
  3. Distribution is now through different routes – moving from distributor to direct sales or from direct to web/online
  4. New competitive or industry changes are being faced – a new rival or industry/architectural shift
  5. Facing one or more of those elements doesn’t mean you must change or blow up your branding elements, but it is essential that you at least look at your branding platform from a fresh perspective and consider what changes could be helpful. Look as a new prospect experiencing the company for the first time. Better yet, ask a fresh prospect for their impressions on the company.
Is your message aligned with the audience, their pains and how you address them? Are you delivering those messages clearly? Do the message and creative elements connect with your target audience emotionally? Do the creative elements support the message? Does it motivate them to take action in your favor?  Does it create some sense of connection and loyalty?

If you’ve gone through a pivot and haven’t actually changed some elements in your branding approach, then you were 1) visionary with your original branding, 2) lucky with your original branding, 3) you haven’t really pivoted.

You’ve got nothing to lose unless you fail to challenge your thinking.

In a future post I’ll share a personal example of rebranding at theback of a pivot.  In the meantime, I’d welcome your experiences or industry examples to reference.