If you’ve recently bought an existing online business (or are thinking about buying one), you probably have a multitude of ideas regarding things you can improve. Presumably, the reason you chose to buy the business in the first place was because you believe that you have a better chance at success than the prior owner. 

There may be operational changes you wish to make, or you may wish to invest the company’s resources differently. But through simply tweaking your business’s image and brand identity, you can communicate to customers that your business is under new and better ownership. Rebranding can also be tempting for new owners as it may allow them to feel more aligned to their new business as if it’s truly theirs. 

In this article, we’ll outline and discuss four aspects buyers need to consider when embarking on rebranding their new online business.

Ask Yourself Why You Are Considering Rebranding

Before you commit to fully rebranding your business, you need to decide exactly what you hope to achieve.

Is your goal to attract younger customers? Do you want to incorporate a feeling of customer care that will mimic the experience you hope to give? Or are you looking to distance yourself from negative associations that were made before you bought the business?

Make sure that rebranding is, indeed, the best step towards resolving these issues. Sometimes, an internal change is better for solving problems. For instance, if your business is having issues providing reliable service or products to customers, rebranding won’t help. But even if your business is suffering a drop in revenue without there being any of the aforementioned issues, rebranding still may not necessarily be the right solution. 

This is why it’s absolutely vital to use the right tools that can conduct a thorough audit of your business and generate reports to help you identify exactly where and why revenue is dropping. This way, it will be easier to determine if the issues relate more to company performance, or more in regards to how the company is presenting itself to customers.

However, customers need to always be at the forefront of new branding ideas. When done correctly, rebranding can differentiate you from your competitors, open you up to new customers, increase profits, strengthen customer loyalty and enhance brand awareness. 

Turn To Your Customer Base (And Employees)

Your customer has to always be at the center of everything you do if you want to remain competitive. That’s why it’s important to steer clear of the common pitfall of making rebranding efforts about you, and not your customers. A disconnect between your brand’s image and the customers that you serve will not revive your business. It will further isolate you from your base. 

One of the best ways to develop a successful rebranding strategy is by talking to your customers and your employees. There is much insight you will gain from this homegrown market research. It will inform you what people already like about your brand, so you don’t have to fix what isn’t broken. Hopefully, your business will have a decent amount of repeat customers that you can prioritize when it comes to feedback. 

Hiring an external consultant or a marketing firm to do this research can be beneficial. It provides you with an objective view of your business. You can also use your own surveys or focus groups to ask your current customer base for their input about your brand story and reputation. You might find out that a lot of what your current brand communicates to customers still resonates with them. In that case, a partial rebrand – focusing only on polishing up existing logos by making them look more modern, etc – could be the right choice. 

Coldwell Banker is a good example of this approach. At a hundred and ten years old, it’s the oldest real estate agency in the country. They recently changed their logo for the first time in over four decades, making it more modern by embracing an abbreviation and incorporating a star in the design. The logo still uses the same trademark shade of blue and is similar enough to the old logo that recognition is not lost.

The company conducted a consumer survey and discovered that 80% of respondents found that their previous logo was out of date. Decide on what your company’s concise vision and mission are. Then, consider asking your existing customers whether your imagery, vocabulary, tone and voice match with these values from their perspective. 

On the flip side, an example of a marketing failure, Gap underwent a well-known disastrous rebrand ten years ago that is still talked about to this day as an example of why you should not rebrand when your customers aren’t asking for it. Thus, when the company unrolled their poorly designed new logo, the negative reaction was immediate. Within six days, Gap made the tough decision to go back to their old design. This mistake cost them over a hundred million overall. 

People are generally eager to voice their concerns and opinions. Don’t neglect this when rebranding your business, and keep in mind that when customers feel heard, their brand loyalty increases.

Communicate Upcoming Changes

It’s vital that your employees understand the mission behind your rebranding efforts before rolling them out. This is the most overlooked aspect of rebranding for many companies. Ideally, employees should play a part in your company’s initial conversation about rebranding. 

At the very least, employees shouldn’t be blindsided by your company’s new logo, slogan and color scheme like they were with Gap. 

Furthermore, by communicating to your employees the main goal of your rebranding efforts, they can get a better understanding of the overall mission of your company. This is referred to as a transparent rebrand, and was embraced by Coldwell Banker when they made the decision to update their logo. 

The most effective medium with which to communicate changes regarding your brand remains email. Considering that nearly 20% of emails in a campaign are opened within an hour of sending, you can notify a large number of customers right away, several of whom will then spread the word to their friends and relatives. 

Once you’ve finished rebranding, you should have a clear idea of which customer demographic your new brand will appeal to the most. Consider using this time to pinpoint new leads, and use the descriptors about your ideal customer demographic that were identified during rebranding to locate new prospects.

For example, if your real estate company recently rebranded to embrace a younger, more tech-savvy vision, consider reaching out to millennial consumers to enhance brand awareness. Never forget that increasing company revenue – either by increasing customer retention or new clients – should always be the goal of rebranding efforts.

Make a List of All the Aspects That Need Changing During Your Rebranding

If you’ve gotten this far into the article and are still convinced that rebranding is the right choice for you, you should make a thorough inventory of everything that needs to be updated. This will prevent you from being blindsided about the overall cost of rebranding, as well as make the process go more smoothly. 

One of the best things about rebranding is that it can be used as an effective means of amplifying the digital presence of your business. Particularly in a post-coronavirus world, an emphasis on digital marketing and content creation will help your brand stay relevant online. A complete list of all the aspects of your online presence that will need to be rebranded will help focus your efforts and streamline the process.

Rebranding is the obvious choice for many people who buy existing businesses, but it isn’t always the right solution. Take the time to thoroughly understand the business you just bought and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses to get a better picture of the direction you want to go in. Many times, solving operational and managerial issues will do more to enhance customer experience than rebranding will. 

Business owners must be careful to put their customers at the center of rebranding efforts, whether it’s taking surveys on what they want to see improved to conducting a transparent rebrand like we discussed before. Again, email remains the most powerful tool with which to accomplish this. As Brisbane-based software developer and online marketer Nathan Finch of Best Web Hosting Australia says, email is “how you reach your audience these days. Sure, it takes time to set these campaigns up, but they are so compelling that they are worth the effort and time it takes.”

Remember, a business is not a reflection of the owner’s personality but a reflection of the customers they wish to serve. Involving customers and employees in the early stages of rebranding can provide you with invaluable insights regarding what they want to see from your company.

Conclusion

Once you’ve done your research and have a plan for rebranding, your new brand image can serve as a powerful tool to connect you to a wider base of customers, especially when used tactically online. Before rebranding, consider coming up with a thorough list of every aspect of your online presence that will need to be updated with brand-friendly images and language. 

Lastly, try not to lose sight of the fact that rebranding is meant to be inspiring. When done successfully, your new brand should remind you of all the reasons you believe in your business in the first place – and to your customers of why they chose your product or service over all others.

Dan Fries

Dan Fries

Dan Fries is an entrepreneur, investor, and writer who shows bootstrapped entrepreneurs and investors how to prepare for an exit by making better long term financial decisions. His website is danfries.net