Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. In Celebration of our 9th Anniversary, this is excerpted from my recent interview with Tracey Edmonds. She is a businesswoman, television producer and personality. She is the CEO of Edmonds Entertainment Group Inc., COO of Our Stories Films and AlrightNow. For more information: alrightnow.com.
SmallBizlady: What is the importance of branding?
Tracey Edmonds: At its core, branding, whether for a business or for an individual, defines a business/individual and its/their image: who you are, what you stand for, what you do, and why you do it. Your brand builds trust with your customers and can influence their lifestyle and buying decisions. Your growth and success are deeply rooted in your brand because it gives you the direction to expand your business.
SmallBizlady: Why would a company or individual need to rebrand?
Tracey Edmonds: There are several reasons—some good and some bad. The most common reason is that you’ve simply outgrown your current brand. Companies, large and small, usually need to rebrand at some point. Maybe they want to attract a bigger audience or add new products.
Another reason is that you have had customer backlash—negative press and reviews or a product didn’t live up to its hype.
For an individual, when your public image has been tarnished in some way, it can be a good time to stop everything, focus on a rebrand, and rebuild your reputation. Or when an individual has evolved and is ready to enter a new chapter in their life/career, strategic rebranding is important.
SmallBizlady: What are the benefits of rebranding?
Tracey Edmonds: Rebranding means that you are looking at who you are and where you want to go. Maybe you want to reengage your audience/customers or create a new look for yourself. Rebranding gives you the chance to regroup and change your direction.
SmallBizlady: Does a company need to throw out its current branding?
Tracey Edmonds: Not necessarily. I recommend looking at the current branding and see what you can keep and what you can toss. Often, you can build on the current branding and do a simple refresh. It’s not always necessary to throw everything away.
SmallBizlady: How do you get internal buy-in and support for a rebranding?
Tracey Edmonds: This can be difficult because the brand can be deeply personal to employees within the company. That’s why it’s important to communicate along the way and let them know why you are doing it and the expected benefits of the rebrand. Above all, you want your employees invested in the outcome which is to improve your reputation and profits. It’s an outcome everyone wants!
SmallBizlady: What are some steps to rebrand a company?
Tracey Edmonds: Some of the steps include:
- Looking over your current branding materials and deciding what to discard or keep. You might want to discard everything and start over.
- Look at your target market and audience and how you want to expand it. Redefine your company persona.
- Create your vision. Update your marketing materials to match the vision you defined after your research.
- Promote your new brand.
- Keep consistent with your brand changes.
- Gather data and track ROI after the rebrand launch.
SmallBizlady: Can you expand on how to do research?
Tracey Edmonds: This can be the most time-consuming part of the process, but it’s a huge determiner of your success. This is the time to check out your competitors and your target audience. You need to talk to people internally and externally about your business. You need to redefine your mission, core values, and vision.
SmallBizlady: So, would you say that lack of research is what leads to rebranding failures?
Tracey Edmonds: It can be. Some companies have missed the mark on updating their brands and those failures often scare others from rebranding. But when you look at what happened, many mistakes could have been avoided by doing more research and utilizing more focus groups. Don’t spring a new brand on customers! Let them know that a rebranding is happening soon and get their input if possible. The same thing goes for individuals who are looking to rebrand. Individuals should do research and know what aspects from their original brand still resonate with their base, try to hold onto those aspects, and then strategically introduce their audience to the next evolution of their brand.
SmallBizlady: What step is particularly challenging for a company?
Tracey Edmonds: I think consistency can be challenging for a company if they have been set in their old branding for a long time. It’s easy to slip back into their original brand especially if they are not yet comfortable with the changes. But consistency is required for the rebranding to be a success. You might not see positive changes right away but rebuilding a public image takes time and being inconsistent will undo all your hard work.
SmallBizlady: Why is important that businesses have a story to tell?
Tracey Edmonds: Your brand story tells your audience what makes you interesting and unique from your competitors. It is a powerful tool to connect with your target market in an authentic way.
SmallBizlady: How do you promote your rebranding?
Tracey Edmonds: After all the work of researching and creating the materials for your new brand, you need to launch it with a strategy. This is important to its success and often overlooked. Internally, your employees should know the new brand intimately by now and given the tools to promote it. Customers should’ve been given a heads up that a new brand is coming their way. Newsletters, social media, and websites should serve as a big source of your promotion.
Social media, in particular, is a powerful tool that should NEVER be underestimated. Social media platforms allow a companies/individuals a chance to craft their desired image and tell their story in an unlimited capacity on a daily basis.
SmallBizlady: How do you decide if the rebranding was a success?
Tracey Edmonds: There are several metrics that you want to look at before and after your rebranding. These can include customer retention, customer feedback, customer engagement, brand mentions, and website visits. Make sure to analyze Google analytics data and check organic searches for new brand keywords. Look at social media analytics for brand mentions and more engagements on posts. If raising your prices or offering new products were part of your reasons for rebranding, you should see it positively affect your bottom line.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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