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When is rebranding and updating your logo necessary? In this post, we share our thought process and experience on this.

A few months ago, we explored the possibility of investing in an update of our logo and a rebrand for our design style guide.

Before we jump into talking about our rebranding experience, let’s quickly clarify what we mean by  “brand,” shall we? 

To us, your “brand” is what other people say about your product or service.

Your logo is only one part of this. Design, copy, your website, social media posts, and your customer interactions will also impact your brand.

Your “brand” is what other people say about your product or service. Click To Tweet

Related: What is a brand?

What was the trigger that started this process of rebranding and updating the logo for Bean Ninjas?

As CEO Meryl Johnston shares, this exercise was triggered by a requirement to update the Bean Ninjas website. 

Here’s Meryl’s thought process:

“The trigger was that we had problems with our website related to using an old version of Divi (a WordPress theme) and having plugins that weren’t compatible with Divi. This got me started on the path of thinking we need to rebuild our website on a newer platform.

And then, if you’re going to rebuild your website from scratch, you do not want to rebrand soon after and then have to rebuild the website. I figured if we’re going to rebuild the website, we probably should reconsider refreshing our branding at the same time. 

I also had feedback from a couple of our designers that our logo’s ninja eyes looked aggressive. As we were considering refreshing the brand, it might be an opportunity to act on that feedback. 

Furthermore, I also wanted to upgrade our style guide to reflect better who we are now and result in better quality designs from our design team.” 

Why should you rebrand your small business?

Trends change. Brands evolve. To maintain a modern image, business owners must keep their brand fresh.

What are the benefits of rebranding?

Benefits of rebranding can include:

  • Connect with a new, niche audience
  • Differentiate yourself from encroaching competitors
  • Stay up-to-date and current with your language and logo.
  • Reflect the changing values and products of your organization
  • Boost your profitability through new clients and competitive-readiness

Despite the benefits, you may wonder if your business is ready for a rebrand.

2016 brand style guide

Related: What Makes a World Famous Logo?

When does it make sense to rebrand a small business?

To decide if you need a refresh of your brand, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are you thinking about a rebrand now?
  • What challenges does your current brand face?
  • How can you implement changes that will positively affect the entire company?

Some indicators signaling time for a rebrand include a brand that no longer reflects your vision. There are also more possibilities.

Perhaps you’re not different enough from competitors for an edge. Or, your business model, products, and approach have simply changed.

Either way, you’ll need to decide how extensive your rebrand will be.

RelatedThe Story Behind Our New Bean Ninjas Logo and Branding Guidelines

Full vs. Partial Rebranding: Which makes more sense for your business?

For Bean Ninjas, the intention wasn’t to do a full rebrand but to refresh our brand style guide, website, and a few brand assets.

As you consider your rebrand, think about the different facets of a powerful brand and decide which are suitable for a renovation:

  • What look and language does your target buyer now seek?
  • Is it the right time for a rebrand, and what market changes are happening?
  • How has your positioning changed, and can you reflect it on your website and through your marketing?
  • Do you need to distance yourself from the practices and pitfalls of competitors?
  • Which new appeals are likely to expand your business’s ability to reach new customers and talent?

Like with any critical business decision, timing plays a crucial role. You want to invest when it makes sense to do so, and not too early.

“It makes sense to invest in a branding exercise if you feel like your brand doesn’t resonate with the market. Or if you’ve never thought deeply about your customer avatars, what problem you solve, vision and values, unique differentiators. 

“It doesn’t make sense to invest in all this right at the beginning of your business if you are bootstrapping, especially when you’re still trying to figure out product-market fit.” 

– Meryl Johnston 

What steps did we take to refresh the Bean Ninjas brand? 

Meryl first spoke to a brand strategist, and they outlined that their process was to go back through our customer avatars and messaging. It was going to cost $10K+ for an exploration exercise to figure out the brand. 

We didn’t think we needed to do that as we had already invested a tonne of time and effort into sorting out our personas and content strategy earlier this year. Instead, we wanted to focus on design, which was the weakest point in our overall brand.

We looked for a designer who could help us tweak the existing brand elements and the logo. We found our designer through a referral from an online community.

We briefed the designer, and he created some mockups of our logo (see below). 

Designer mockups of our logo

Once we had some mockups to work with, we turned to our internal team and trusted experts within our network for insights.

“I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have any blind spots. So I posted in a couple of communities to ask about how other founders thought about a rebrand.” – Meryl Johnston. 

Soliciting feedback

Feedback from employees and customers helps brands convince, sell, attract, and delight. You can leverage feedback to improve simple and complex challenges to your brand.

Think about the forms of feedback you currently receive. What problems and opportunities are your team members and customers highlighting?

When going through a feedback process, Meryl recommends, “Don’t take everything at face value.” 

Tips for getting feedback on your logo or design

Test your logo with an emphasis on objective feedback. Never ask simply what a person “thinks” about your design. 

Present your logo as a solution to the challenges and constraints of your brand. Then, see how your team evaluates the effectiveness of the design.

Furthermore, whenever someone gives you feedback or advice, be sure to look at the lens with which they’re looking. Ask the following questions:

  • Why are they giving the feedback? 
  • What’s their knowledge and experience? 
  • What kind of biases might they have? 

Make sure you choose who you’re listening to wisely. Everyone’s got an opinion, but that doesn’t mean that you need to hear it.

We did briefly consider some new logos but eventually arrived back at our existing logo with some tweaks.

Here are some screenshots of the conversation we had with the team in Slack about the logo mockups.

Screenshots of team Slack conversation about logo mockups

The final logo

We made changes to the slope of the ninja’s eyes and also some font changes.

Final logo

“In terms of feedback, I included the team as I value their opinions in understanding what we are all about at Bean Ninjas, I wanted to get buy-in with any changes.

I agree with Dan Norris about not posting a logo in a Facebook group for feedback. My posts were more about getting an idea of how founders think about brands.” – Meryl Johnston. 

Related: What is compound marketing?

How much does a rebrand typically cost?

If you hire an agency or do it all in-house, rebranding your business can cost from around $1,000 to $50,000 for large companies. It all depends on the extent of your rebranding efforts and the resources you’re willing to spend.

Here’s a handy table to use as a guide:

Table: The Total Cost of Branding for Small Businesses (source: Witty Kitty)

Related: Startup branding: how much does it really cost?

How much did we invest in the rebranding exercise, and why?

We ended up spending approx. $5K working with the designer for logo variations, style guide re-write, and additional marketing assets, including: 

  • Brand style guide
  • Social media assets
  • Slide deck for presentations
Updated 2020 brand style guide
New slide deck design

What was the result of this branding exercise? 

While we didn’t move forward with a complete rebrand or even a new logo, we did achieve a lot of learning.

We did end up with:

  • Tweaks to our logo. 
  • A refresh of our brand style guide 
  • Several brand assets. 

We still have all the marketing assets to roll out which would include things like email signatures, business cards, social media covers, podcast cover, email (drip) templates, etc.

We are also currently in the process of scoping out the website refresh. 

We wanted to publish this article as the thought process that we went through to arrive at the revised logo was particularly interesting.

It was a good conversation for our team to have about our logo and what it means to us, what we like and don’t like, what we would change if we had the opportunity. 

What we learned about rebranding from Expert designers 

“I spoke with Quinn Zeda, a UX / UI designer from Conversion Crimes, about our logo. She had some practical advice and thought that our logo was good enough for now (not bad enough to detract from our brand or prevent someone buying).” – Meryl Johnston.

“Rebranding is so much more than just a new logo. Your brand is not about what you say it is, but rather what your customers say it is. Does it evoke a feeling of belonging, passion, or confidence in you and your products or services? It conveys your unique set of values. Great brands stand for something, not a lot of things, one thing – so be clear and focussed and help your audience understand what you stand for.” – Francois Brill

Great brands stand for something, not a lot of things, one thing – Francois Brill, Designer Click To Tweet

3 Lessons from our rebranding experience (that will help you rebrand your own small business)

  1. Consistent use of the brand style guide is much more important than the logo. The logo can affect your brand’s market perception, but you could spend a year and thousands of dollars on it. The style guide is essential because that influences the ongoing creation of your marketing assets.
  2. Involving other team members in the process is helpful, as getting their input is valuable for each person involved.
  3. Your logo is only one branding element, so be conscious of not spending too much time and money on it.

Related: Why you need a brand style guide

Closing thoughts on rebranding for small businesses

Based on our experience, rebranding can refresh your company’s image to match its current values, products, and ways of doing business.

This way, customers can understand, connect with, and differentiate your brand.

As a thought experiment, imagine you are just now launching your company. 

  1. What image, what voice would your brand take today? 

2. Write down your thoughts about this “new” company, and complete this cool positioning exercise by April Dunford.

3. Take the necessary steps outlined above to integrate it with your current brand.

Is there anything you’d like to change about your current branding? Let us know in the comments.

(Featured Image by ptra from Pixabay)

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Anfernee Chansamooth
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