This is a blog from an original US article by Kirstine Donmingue (I believe it is very relevant to the UK market):
This summer and autumn, I spoke to over 50 femme-preneurs about their business and their brand strategy. At the heart of these conversations were 2 simple questions:
- Are you doing what you love?
- Are you getting paid to do what you love?
I am so inspired by all of the women I spoke to. And I know it is a sacred admission to share your purpose with someone. I am still in awe, reverence and gratitude as I remember hearing your dreams. Dreams that would make Gandhi cry.
From these conversations and my own journey I learned there are definitive times to rebrand your business so the person you are trying to help can find you and know you can help them. Without doing this, it’s like there is an invisibility cloak on your business.
The trickiest part about rebranding is knowing that you need to do it. In many cases, we don’t know it’s our branding that turns the right clients away, blocks us from better speaking gigs, or keeps us burned out. Instead, we try to learn more about marketing or eliminate self-limiting beliefs about money, our value, or fill-in-the-blank. But quite often, we know enough already. This is especially true if there was a time when things were “working” in your business before.
So to clear up the confusion, here are 9 signs that it is time to rebrand:
From what I’ve seen, burnout that is solved by rebranding is caused by 2 things:
- One too many client-vampires (the wrong person has gotten the message you are right for them, and because you aren’t clear, you didn’t know the difference until it was too late.)
- Being sought after for ‘great’ opportunities that require you to do A LOT of extra work to prepare for a talk or event that you will only ever do once. Twice if you are lucky.
2) You have a revenue plateau.
Revenue plateaus solved by rebranding are some of the most mysterious ones. It’s not like you don’t know how to go out and give a free talk or ask for the sale. You know the difference between revenue generating activities and time-wasters. But in this case, you book enough work to be “busy” in your biz but for some reason you can’t identify, things just seem to stop working. You start hearing “no” more often, and referrals stop coming in. The worst part about this kind of plateau is when you try to solve it by putting in more hours of the activities that used to work, even though your results don’t seem to expand. Which then gives you a case of rebrand burnout.
3) You tell people what you do and they just don’t get it.
This is more of a problem for someone who never really had a clearly defined brand to begin with. The job of your brand is to make you magnetic, sticky, and attractive to the right people. Your cocktail line is one of the first experiences they have of your brand when they meet you in person. So when you tell people what you do, if your brand is on track, they will either say, “Wow, that’s cool,” (because you are clear and they get it, even if it isn’t for them) or “Whoa, do you have a card, I think I need you.” But if most of your conversations move into awkwardness with you explaining the details of what you do, and the other person nodding and saying things like, “interesting…” then it’s definitely time to rebrand and up your magnetism.
4) You crave MORE…
The craving for MORE that is solved by rebranding is very unique. This MORE is defined by feeling “into” what you do, but not loving what you do. It’s good, but it isn’t fulfilling. In its absence, this MORE leaves you quietly wondering, “is this all there is?” about your life when you hit a major birthday. You’ve figured out how to make ‘ok’ money in your business, but basically, your heart isn’t in it anymore, and the triumphant pride of being an entrepreneur has worn off. Is this really solved by a rebrand? Yup, I guarantee it. At the heart of this problem is a fuller expression of your purpose: why you do what you do in the fist place. A rebrand can help you identify what that is, connect it to customer needs, and badda-bing-badda-boom…MORE starts rolling in faster than you know how to receive it.
5) You have a (not-so) secret life in a different profession or business.
(and not the type that is just a paycheck there to support your business.)
This type of (not-so) secret life is one you are also interested in pursuing, and has traction in the world too. In this situation, your attention and resources are split, and you’ve grown to the point where you have to choose one in order to grow any further. Rebranding can make it possible for you to find the perfect synthesis of what you love: for you, and your ideal client. This kind of synthesis makes you a highly unique offering in the marketplace, and gives you more of the right kind of clients, eliminating burnout and revenue plateaus.
6) Your brand promises to give people [fill-in-the-blank] and your life feels like anything but that.
This kind of problem is typically caused by brand misalignment: either you are actually a stand for something else in the world (and you just can’t see it because it’s hard to see yourself) or it is time for you to get some help taking your own medicine. The challenge with this kind of brand problem, is that your ideal customers smell it: you get close to getting the new client, but it always turns into a no. Everything you do, say, wear, and write, are all brand experiences your customer uses to decide if they like and trust you enough to work with you. A really good re-brander can help you “be your brand” and clean up places of mis-alignment either in your service delivery, program or product design, and in some cases, your life.
7) You and your business partner just split.
This is probably the most obvious time to rebrand, to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. This will give you the creative edge you need to avoid any disputes with your ex-biz partner over proprietary information belonging to your prior biz.
8) Your web or graphic designer just doesn’t seem to get you.
You are on draft 11, and $5000 in the hole. Your creative is frustrated and so are you. This is a sign that the brand you thought was clear is not. They can’t be clear about what visuals best represent you if you are not clear about what you represent. Have you told them what you stand for in the world? Do they know what results you are known for producing? Does your business and brand have a core concept? Do they know what makes you unique in your industry and field? If you haven’t had a very clear and specific conversation about these things, it can lead to getting multiple drafts from your creative that never quite hit the mark.
The challenge here is that you both think you are being clear. But in actuality, you’ve given them the meat, but not the bone. They aren’t clear about the central axis your business wraps around: your brand. And it is likely that you aren’t clear about it either. In this case, the best thing you can do is back up, and take the time to get your biz branded. Branding isn’t what happens when you get graphic design done. It’s what happens when you make a choice about what you and your business stand for in the world. Branding happens before you get visual. Visuals are the expression of the brand, not the other way around.
9) Your results with your customers and clients are all over the map.
When the root of this problem is your brand (as opposed to your focus, etc.), it’s a sign you are attracting clients that aren’t the best fit for you. Can you help them? Sure, but are they doing the most good in your business and are you doing the most good in their life? Not really. Your business can grow faster, and your clients can becomeraving fans when you are standing in the sweet spot of your brand: the special place where your purpose, what you do with excellence, and what people really need intersect. This problem at its worst will give you clients who love you and clients who don’t complete work with you and refuse to pay you. At its best, clients walk away “feeling good” but not able to concretely say how you helped them, and therefore can’t give you an effective referral. You will also see a mix of clients all over this spectrum.
So is it time to rebrand?