Once you’ve been in the game for several years, you might find yourself seeing a shift on the horizon in terms of service offerings and ideal clients. You may have added more people to your team, changed a service or shut down other offerings that no longer bring you joy. During this time of growth, many business owners find themselves asking: “since my services are changing – should I rebrand?”
The answer isn’t always as simple as you might want it to be. Even if you’re convinced that you need to rebrand completely, I invite you to come into this article with an open mind! We’ll be covering brand refreshes vs. rebrands, common business shift scenarios and my professional insight into the best brand approach to take.
Wanting to change your services or offerings is a sign of growth—embrace it!
Maya Angelou once said “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Sage words! It’s easy to get stuck inside our own heads; we continue to take on clients that aren’t a good fit. We keep stable services that don’t align with our goals. And we make promises to ourselves about how we’ll change things up next quarter. And then the next quarter… Or, hey, maybe in the new year is safer instead?
The fear of moving away from stability is natural! It can cause the boldest business owners to hesitate or unconsciously look for things to get hung up on.
This period of growth and change happens for my clients most often around the 4-7 year mark of being in business. Their experience has deepened and they feel called to make big changes that align them with the parts of their biz they’re most passionate about. They’ve developed a rhythm of how things operate and see patterns emerge around the kind of work they want to do more of.
But when it comes down to getting more of those projects you’re passionate about or attracting new clients that inspire you, reviewing your service offerings is an important step to take.
Which begs the question: if you’re making a big shift in your business services, wouldn’t it be natural to do a whole rebrand? Or can you find some middle ground by doing a brand refresh instead?
Rebrand vs brand refresh: which is better when you’re changing your offerings?
Ah yes, the rebrand vs brand refresh debate. Or maybe it’s more a fork in the road and you’ve no idea which path you should take. In the case of changing service offerings… which one is better?
Well, it depends on a few factors and if you have the capacity—mind, time and budget—to explore them. Let’s confirm the difference between the two before we get started, shall we?
A brand refresh is exactly what it sounds like; tidying things up rather than overhauling. I recommend a brand refresh when you’re not making a huge change to who you want to attract. Your aim is to deepen the impact of your brand and be more purposeful. In a refresh, you would tackle such things as:
- Update visual aspects of your brand such as your logo or brand standards that still “feel” like the original.
- Update copywriting on your website and other communication touch points that target your intended audience, making sure the language shift isn’t too drastic.
- Drop or add services that don’t require a lot of strategy behind them. As in, if they disappeared tomorrow, few people would notice and it’s easy for you to transition without the help of a brand consultant.
Rebranding is a complete overhaul, requiring a deep analysis of the shift in business goals and your ideal client. You would need this analysis because the changes you make to your services are going to affect a combination of the following:
- Your current clients, because some will no longer fit with your new direction and that separation is going to take nuance.
- Redefining who your ideal client is through 1:1 interviews and market positioning. This will ensure the work you do with a copywriter hits the nail on the head.
- How your business is perceived by those that don’t know your brand yet but are looking for the new services you will offer.
- Any SEO and search intent you’ve accumulated over the years. How will a rebrand affect your traffic, positioning and overall user experience?
- Paperwork and other operational items due to changing the company name. Plus the logistics that come with registering the new name with your bank, suppliers, etc.
- All the aesthetic aspects such as your logo, website design and marketing collateral. Plus coordinating the timing of the switch from old branding to new.
Comparing the two, it’s easy to see how business owners who really do need a rebrand can get caught spinning their wheels. The good news is that rebrand consulting can help break it all down into manageable steps.
Example scenarios: a rebranding consultant hashes it out.
Working with rebranding for as long as I have, I know it’s not always a clear answer. I use custom audits and a healthy dose of research to help my clients decide what the best action for them is. Here are some common brand dilemmas and how I would approach them. Do any of these situations sound like yours?
Growing from a 1 person company to a small team.
A PR consultant who worked independently with subcontractors in the past has begun to hire employees. They’ve dropped and added services to compete with agencies. However, they worry bigger clients will pass on them due to the brand still being seen as a single person.
Generally, this becomes a rebrand—BUT! I would first confirm that indeed their competition is larger agencies, and how those agencies position themselves. They too might do business as individuals with a team behind them. Sometimes there is imposter syndrome with even the most talented service provider. I want to be sure the lay of the land is truly accurate from the prospect’s perspective.
Transitioning from ‘1-to-1’ services to ‘1-to-many’ or passive income.
A small business accountant wants to take on fewer clients and start offering financial courses online. They can reach a wider audience (and generate more revenue) than they could as a service provider. But they’re not sure their current brand will resonate with a DIY education crowd.
This could be a rebrand or a refresh! I would recommend conducting 1:1 interviews with any participants of the existing passive income products. Or survey their newsletter list to see how much interest exists for the pivot and anything else that might help determine the right course of action.
I’d also perform an SEO audit to see if the brand is already considered part of the searcher landscape for the shift. Often with subject matter experts, they’ve already established themselves in a particular topic organically. We’re simply changing how prospects access their genius. It may not be as big an SEO battle as you might think!
Transitioning from implementation to consulting.
A social media marketer who operates under their own name pivots from social media management retainers to intensive consulting engagements. Still, they continue to get requests to do social media management based on the brand they built.
I’d lean more to refresh with this one. Especially if organic and 1:1 interviews reveal that the person’s name is being equated with authority and the topic they specialize in. Renaming and overhauling all visual aspects of this brand isn’t necessary.
The real area of change here is messaging. I would focus on getting a copywriter to overhaul the website copy to reflect the new direct. Then, soft launch the change and have the marketer send an email or DM to their referral network updating them of the shift. This also creates a great opportunity to reconnect with folx and find out what’s changed in their biz as well. There may be new opportunities to collaborate or have someone pick up the work the marketer no longer offers.
Niching down to serve a more targeted clientele.
A copywriter who served local SMBs now wants to focus on national NGOs. Their services largely remain the same, but how they brand and market them has to change to attract the new clientele.
If the name of the company specifically references a region they no longer serve or ‘pigeon holes’ them, I would advise a rebrand with name change. Beyond that, I would also perform an SEO audit and research to suss out what searcher intent is needed to begin attracting folx in the new market. Based on that audit, recommendations could include appearing on podcasts, guest blogging and other outreach initiatives to fast-track hitching up to that new client network.
The company name literally mentions the service you no longer want to provide.
A wedding photographer wants to phase out events and do brand and editorial work instead. Unfortunately, their business is literally called “Weddingbells Photography.”
No brainer: a rebrand is in order, with a change of company name. But keep in mind that many aspects of the old brand can remain! The same colour palette and brand language can be reused or referenced to show a ‘glow up’ of the company. And not to be a broken record here, but I’d also perform some SEO sleuthing as well to help compliment any copywriting that will take place.
Changes in services is a great branding opportunity
While change can be scary as hell, to me it means you are embracing growth. You’ve been around long enough to try out a variety of services and processes that work for your business. And we don’t want to rush through a rebrand that will undo everything you’ve built up over the years. So, a strategic approach to the shift is important!
The unknowns of rebranding are easily outweighed by the benefits of strengthened offerings and a deeper relationship with clients that make arriving at your desk each morning fun.
If you’re still not sure what path you need to walk to get the best outcome for your business, I recommend booking a no-obligation rebranding consultation. In just 30 minutes I can help you get clarity on which direction to take, and an overview of how that would look as a process. Get a professional opinion that could save you hours of research!