Constant Evolution – Art of Branding for Small Business

Okay, I’ve seen it dozens of times. And I’ve lived it myself. Business start. Momentum. Slow down. Stop. Regroup. Regrowth. Reconsider. Change perspective. Change your business. Panic. Pause. Repeat.

Small business entrepreneurs, particularly those who are plugging away at a slow but steady pace, have so much opportunity to consider and reconsider their business ideas and business model that they start to question EVERYTHING. Or, you live with your ideas and enthusiasm so long you get bored with your business and yourself. Or, you get so busy doing your business you can’t be bothered or don’t have time to attend TO your business. Doesn’t matter why, when you run your own business, you will always desire change.

Wonder if  brand evolution is right for you?

Evolution of your business is just smart business practice. Growth and tweaking based on what you’ve learned and experienced is simply good, basic marketing. You should never keep status quo on what is not working. And you should always introduce new opportunities that are a fit for your ideal customers. The trick is knowing how to evaluate what is not working, why not, and then what exactly to change, when and how! That is a bigger marketing question that requires a deeper sense of marketing… and is the focus of a new program I’m creating right now! (sign up for the new, FREE Program Preview Call if you are curious what’s coming next).

Don’t take brand evolution lightly. Avoid these business traps:

  1. Change for the sake of change. Like when I said you get bored of your business. Boredom is not a valid reason to change. Change for the sake of change is costly, loses momentum, and can deflate the credibility you’ve been building since you started. Unless it makes sense.
  2. Confusing your customers. Every time you make a moderate to big change to your essence, you are essentially rebranding yourself. Some rebranding efforts are huge, and some are small. But all are confusing to your customers if you don’t make it clear what you are doing and why. So don’t take decisions to change your vision, your philosophy, your visual identity, your customer service, your business essence too lightly. If you’ve been in business awhile, with a decent following (even if that following are not all customers… yet), the risk to you is greater than if you’ve just opened your doors and things aren’t quite right.

Small businesses are constantly evolving. So, you are constantly tweaking your brand. Brand evolution is a constant. So learn how to do it & maintain momentum, not lose followers or customers.

Tips for seamless brand evolution:

  • Slow and steady – subtle transitions that flow seamlessly over time can have customers along for the ride without much impact at all. If your business isn’t in desperate need of a major overnight overhaul, then this is the only way to go!
  • Share the ‘why’ behind your change, share it early, share it often – if you have had a customer following, and your brand changes in any significant way, the sooner you tell your customers and the more you emphasize the why (ie. the benefit to them) the more it will resonate. And when that change actually happens, you must have a communication plan around ensuring they know YOU are STILL you.
  • Avoid the black hole. Going MIA is normal when you are a multi-tasked small business creator. But being gone too long is the black kiss of death to some businesses! No matter how popular you were, you still need to keep the fires burning a little bit with some simple, but clear connections with your followers.
  • Keep all that is good. Remember, what your business looks like on the outside is only the window dressing on your brand. If you are changing your visual identity, but the core elements of your business that function great are not changing… it is mission critical to ensure customers repeatedly that you may look different but their experience with you will not change!
  • Ditch what isn’t working… quickly. If your business brand is changing because the business itself needs a tweak, or a downright purge, make a grand show of making a grand change. Be human, be honest, and be focused on the customer’s needs in your story of change, not just yours. And do it fast. Sometimes the only brand change you need to build your business is getting rid of what is damaging your business.
  • Keep some threads of visual consistency. While brand itself is much deeper than what you see, when rebranding, keeping some visual consistency from the old to the new, even if only briefly (if your entire visual brand is changing) is essential to not confusing your followers. Imagine if your favourite online store looked one way today, and completely different tomorrow with new logo, new look, new shopping cart… and they didn’t tell you enough times, in enough ways that you remembered… you’d lose trust and they’d lose credibility. This might be temporary or permanent. The comfort connection in brand always starts with the visual. The window dressing is what makes us know where we are and who we can trust at all times. The variables are many, but you can make major changes if you can keep any visual elements that are instantly recognizable similar in order to create that visual comfort and maintain your recognition through the change.
    • logo
    • pictures/graphics
    • colours
    • fonts
    • page layout
    • music or a voice
    • you – if your business is a service-business and you are part of your brand, put your pearly whites on display for best consistency!

Tread lightly with your constant evolution. Your customers need to know, like and trust you. Every little change you make alters that equation just a little bit!

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