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Rebrands Can Be Tricky and Expensive. Here’s How to Get It Right the First Time

About a year after its 2016 launch, Pencil realized its name was bad for business. Co-founder Sydney Liu would talk about the online storytelling platform to enthusiastic listeners at events–but would-be users, thwarted by a second-rate domain name (usepencil.com) and a barrage of unrelated search results, couldn’t find its website.

So, in 2017, the company, based in Menlo Park, California, decided to redo its logo, site design, and color scheme before ultimately relaunching as Commaful. The overhaul worked almost immediately. “Within a week, we were number one on Google for our name,” Liu says, and organic sign-ups began to increase.

Rebrands are fairly common for startups and small businesses that don’t spend the time (or money) in the early stages to get their messaging, logos, or even monikers just right, says Douglas Spencer, president and chief brand strategist at marketing consultancy Spencer Brenneman. Besides discoverability issues, “they can run into legal challenges,” he says, or “find themselves with a logo that just looks amateur.”

But change is expensive: Most small companies (with less than $30 million in annual revenue) can expect to invest $90,000 to $180,000 on a rebrand, according to marketing agency Ignyte.

Fortunately, there are ways to cut down on costs–and make sure your investment pays off.

1. Do your homework.

Serial entrepreneur Dan Demsky once had to throw away thousands of dollars of packaging because of trademark infringement issues, so when it came time to brand his latest venture (men’s travel-apparel site Unbound Merino), he started with the basics. “Memorability and ease of spelling,” Demsky says, plus “having the domain name.” He also hired a good trademark attorney.

You’ll pay $2,000 to $2,500 for a comprehensive trademark search and around $1,000 for the application, says Marc Misthal, a lawyer with intellectual property firm Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman. Expect added costs, including extension fees, if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejects your application.

2. Solicit, but limit, feedback.

Opinions are a dime a dozen, so while you’ll want to run your brand plans past some employees and clients, you’ll also need to drown out the noise. When content marketing software company PathFactory–formerly known as LookBookHQ–started considering a change to its name and logo in 2017, it limited the internal brand committee to five people.

“Keeping the decision-making committee as small as possible really helped, because everyone will have their own idea of what [the brand] should be,” Cassandra Jowett, PathFactory’s senior director of marketing, says. “Changing your company’s name is not necessarily a democratic decision. Not everyone should get a vote.”

Conduct customer research, but avoid simply asking people whether they like a potential new name, logo, or color scheme, says Emily Brackett, founder of Branding Compass, a web-based branding app for small businesses. Instead, focus on the value prop you would like your name, logo, or design aesthetic to convey.

“You could say, ‘We really want to come across as caring and compassionate,’ ” Brackett suggests. “Does this logo look caring and compassionate, or does this [other] logo look caring and compassionate?”

3. Have a rollout plan.

PathFactory officially announced its new name and logo at the 2018 SiriusDecisions Summit, a major event for the B2B marketing industry. “We tied it together with a product announcement to explain the need for a change in our image,” Jowett says. “The two together got a good reception”–and a lot of much-needed media coverage.

Prior to the official announcement, the company sent swag bags to select customers, and for months after the rebrand, PathFactory left messaging about the change on all its digital channels. Even then, “not everyone realized it was the same company,” Jowett admits.

Smaller-scale rebrands won’t require so many bells and whistles. But you should still communicate why you’re making a certain change, Brackett says. Messaging can come in the form of a press release, blog post, or email to your customers.

“You want to control the narrative,” agrees Bo Bothe, CEO of Brand­Extract, a brand strategy consultancy. “If you just throw it out there to the wolves, they’re going to tear it apart.”

4. Avoid second-guessing.

Once you’ve unveiled your redesign, expect some resistance to your changes. So don’t rush to backtrack if you receive immediate negative feedback. Chances are, the blowback will blow over. (See Slack’s early-­2019 logo redesign, below. The barrage of bad press ultimately dissi­pated.) Commaful had several users threaten to leave once it unveiled the new name and logo, though they ultimately stuck with the platform, Liu says.

“Keep in mind, the product is what matters,” Bothe says. “If the product is badass, the logo will become less relevant. As long as you’re not offending anybody, you’re probably fine.”

 If It Ain’t Broke…

When Nicolas Vandenberghe relaunched his software startup as Chili Piper in 2016, his wife and co-founder, Alina Vandenberghe, quickly designed a new logo and stuck it on the website. “It was meant to be temporary,” Nicolas recalls, but customers took to the little red pepper so much, it survived the company’s formal brand refresh last year.

Chili Piper hired a design agency to draft alternatives, but ultimately the New York City-based company realized “if we change the logo, our customers will go crazy,” Nicolas explains. “They love the logo.”

There are many reasons startups or small businesses rebrand, including copyright infringement issues and the lack of a competitive differentiator, says Brackett of Branding Compass. But founders should take a cue from Chili Piper and make sure they’re not trying to fix something that’s working.

For fledgling and cash-strapped businesses in particular, “there are so many people who haven’t fully learned about your brand,” Brackett says. “Don’t change it because you’re bored.”

 

Jeanine Skowronski Senior editor, Policygenius Magazine

 

Source: Rebrands Can Be Tricky and Expensive. Here’s How to Get It Right the First Time

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Rebranding your business can mean a complete overhaul of all of your visual marketing materials. This video can help you decide if your company is ready for this project or not. If you’re thinking about a rebrand, Visme can help you recreate all of your graphics. Try it free now: https://visme.co — There are many instances when your company might decide it’s time to start rebranding your business. The idea of a rebrand can be scary, but sometimes things happen and a rebrand just makes sense. In this video, Mike with Visme dives into a few of the reasons your company might be considering rebranding. Let’s take a look at what they are. Watch the video to see a few real life examples for each reason. 1. When your company merges with another brand. 2. When your company is bought by another. 3. When your company appoints a new CEO. 4. When your brand has acquired the wrong image. 5. When you want to reach a different audience. 6. When you’ve grown out of your initial mission. 7. When your brand needs to stay relevant. Does your company or brand fall into any of these categories? If so, it might be time to start thinking rebranding your business. However, you never want to take a project like that lightly. A rebrand is almost like a relaunch of your company in a more modern or different light, so you want to follow a rebrand strategy to a T. Learn more about our 12 step process for a successful rebrand in our detailed blog post: https://visme.co/blog/rebranding-stra… — The logos in the videos are trademarks of United Airlines, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Verizon, Huffington Post, Instagram, Burberry, MTV, TNT, airBNB, and Apple. Visme claims no ownership rights in any of these logos, and has no affiliation with these companies. All use is intended to be informative the significance of brand design details. Sources: https://logos.fandom.com/wiki/United_… https://www.verizon.com/about/our-com… https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/a… https://www.theverge.com/2015/9/2/924… https://www.fastcompany.com/1724731/a… https://www.huffpost.com/entry/huffpo… https://www.forbes.com/sites/fruzsina… https://www.huffpost.com/entry/huffpo… https://www.fastcompany.com/1673210/a… https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/compre… https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1469… https://www.wired.com/2016/02/mtv-wan… https://www.underconsideration.com/br… https://logos.fandom.com/wiki/TNT_(Un…) http://fortune.com/airbnb-travel-miss… https://www.underconsideration.com/br…

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What Leads to Profitability? In a New Survey, Successful Business Owners Share Lessons Learned – Victoria Treyger

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The entrepreneurial journey can be exciting but also one filled with missteps and regrets. While some mistakes are unavoidable, business owners can reduce their learning curve by following wise advice from those with seasoned experience and long-lasting success. Who are those people? Their peers.

That was the idea behind a new survey by our company, Kabbage. In collaboration with the small business research firm Bredin, we polled 500 small business owners in nearly every industry across America and across the various life stages of a business. Our findings revealed what we consider valuable lessons on key, growth-producing moves by small business owners.

These are moves that could give newer entrepreneurs actionable knowledge.

Finding 1: What it means to be “in the black”

So what’s the benchmark time frame for turning a profit? A resounding 84 percent of our respondents stated that they had achieved profitability within the first four years of business and that they viewed this window of time as critical to prove that their business was, and is, built to last.

While overnight success isn’t commonplace, a surprising 68 percent reached profitability within the first year while 16 percent did so between years one and four. Only 8 percent reached profitability after their fifth year in business, and only 7 percent of respondents said they still were not profitable.

The strong indication was that the first four years are truly make-or-break years for any new company.

Still, it’s worth noting that these levels of profitability varied among 23 of the top industries in America that took part in the survey. While some entrepreneurs in fields such as medical equipment, personal services and publishing said they had yet to reach profitability, other industries, including advertising/marketing services, architect /engineering, automotive and banking/insurance reported having reached 100 percent profitability.

Two notable industries — restaurants and retailers — showed more staggered growth on their path to profitability; the reason might be both industries’ highly competitive and seasonal nature.

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The takeaway. Regardless of the industry, the four-year mark is a good time to take stock of your business. Is it profitable? Is it close to that status? If not, business owners should consider changes to their business model, from finding new ways to acquire and engage with customers, and reducing operational expenses, to changing products or services, or perhaps even hiring more employees.

Whatever the solution, the four-year factor in entrepreneurship common among our respondent may be helpful for you to compare your business against.

Finding 2: What “the cost” of doing business actually costs

The survey also uncovered a disconnect between business owners’ personal expectations, versus real-life examples of the costs and the level of credit required to do business.

Respondents stated that they needed to access as much as $10 million  of working capital during certain phases of their business, to support growth; the majority said they actually needed less than $500,000. However, these entrepreneurs as a whole fell short of anticipating the amount of capital their businesses would use in the future, versus the amount established businesses actually borrow:

  • 27 percent of business that that were in their first year (at the time of the survey) didn’t think they’d need to borrow funds — whereas, 38 percent of older companies borrowed in their first year
  • 57 percent of businesses that were in their first to fourth year of business didn’t think they’d need to borrow funds — whereas, 29 percent of older companies borrowed between their first and fourth years
  • 50 percent of businesses that were in their fifth to ninth year of business didn’t think they’d need to borrow funds –whereas, 26 percent of older companies borrowed between their fifth and ninth years
  • 74 percent of businesses that were in their tenth to 19th year of business didn’t think they’d need to borrow funds — whereas, 17 percent of older companies borrowed between their tenth and 19th years
  • 84 percent of business that were in their 20th-plus year of business didn’t think they’ll need to borrow funds –whereas, 14 percent of older companies borrowed during these years.
  • Years 20-plus: 14 percent accessed capital — versus 84 percent who expected to borrow

The finding: While the need for capital declined over time, a sizable percentage of businesses in the survey still required access at every age of the business.

Overall, there was a misconception of how much money companies believed they’d need in order to build a long-lasting company. As many as 67 percent of respondents said they would not need to borrow capital in the remaining years they expected to be in business; and 84 percent expected to be in business from five to 20-plus years.

Even though most businesses reach profitability in their first four years, our research showed that businesses still needed extra capital for unique opportunities or challenges they encountered This might mean capital to bridge cash-flow gaps, make strategic purchases, increase marketing spend or open new locations.

The takeaway. To reach high growth, capital is a vital tool to help you scale your business and take advantage of unique business opportunities.

Overall takeaways

While reaching profitability is a commendable achievement for any business, owners may find extra capital a great help for something like a wave of marketing initiatives if their acquisition of new customers has slowed or the retention of existing ones is not at the level needed.

Our research made a case for starting and building marketing programs early, even when budgets for these steps are minimal or nonexistent. In that case, a focus on PR, customer reviews and social media can help. These alternative forms of PR can help an owner make a big impact, just starting out, because online outreach helps the owner tell his or her unique story to a broad audience at a low cost.

Small businesses can also use Facebook as a customer-relationship management tool. It’s the perfect forum to both build a one-to-one experience with customers and to demonstrate to potential customers how responsive those businesses are to their needs.

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