If you’re joining the ranks of the brave, or foolish, who decide to rebrand, do it for the right reasons. Here be dragons.
After 14 years, the EdTech service ‘YourTutor’ is becoming ‘Studiosity’ – and it was a learning curve, making us thankful we’re only doing this once.
Nothing to fear but fear itself
We dragged our heels for too long, kept busy running and growing an otherwise successful business, but the brand was part of the engine that wasn’t pulling its weight.
If you look around at the ‘furniture’ in your business, what is past the used-by? What has ‘always been there’ and not questioned? A rebrand is a daunting undertaking; yet, for us, the bigger risk was to do nothing and let it weigh us down.
The bottom line
A rebrand isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s too big an investment not to attach it to rock-solid reasoning and budget capability. Impressions, colours, logos and trendy names aren’t relevant reasons to change without looking to both your market’s and investors’ expectations. Does your name and brand speak to legacy, or is it an active asset for business growth?
There won’t be jubilation at ‘the one’
As a business owner, there is a lot of the personal that goes into your business, in addition to the rational. When you’re deciding on names from hundreds of choices, it has to be about practical outcomes – for our users/students, for our customers and, significantly, for domain and legal.
There were some ‘that’s nice, I guess’ or ‘really?’ reactions, but when a name has a solid foundation in business strategy, you don’t need to have love at first sight – it comes later when you realise how much better the business will be as a result.
No-one knows what a brand is
Even if you think you do. The business-minded among us quickly thought of ‘logo change’, and the past eight months (from start to launch) have been an exercise in educating across the company on the value of impressions, customer service, values and standards.
If you’re thinking of rebranding, read Be the Frog by Dan Ratner. Our mix was a rebrand in name, function and definition, while maintaining original culture, service and values. We learned it’s not just changing a logo, but neither does it need to be a whitewash of the organisation.
What’s your endgame?
If you know your business’s beginning, middle and end, you’ll intuitively know if you need to rebrand or not. Our old brand was looking back, not forward. In 2004, YourTutor was an excellent fit. In 2017, with new partners in the higher education space, we quickly heard that ‘tutoring’ isn’t what we do at all, and no business wants confused customers or end users.
A prospective partner said, “This is ideal, but the name was a deal-breaker for us. We already have tutors.” The question is, does your brand reflect where you were, or where you want to be?
It’s not just our rebrand, it’s our customers’
Full disclosure – this wasn’t our first rebrand attempt. In 2016, we rebranded ourselves (see above, logo change), went to clients with the finished product and were brought down a peg or two. They hated it. The value of this exercise cannot be underestimated.
We wouldn’t be in the position we are today without honest and open communication from our clients and partners. Their – often brutal – honesty pushed us to go back to the drawing board and reminded us that our standards are higher.
Internal stakeholders will make or break
The first time around, the rebrand was a bit of a secret internally, albeit well-intentioned to be a ‘reveal’ and, idealistically, to be a rampant cause for celebration. A rebrand is a high-level, company decision and strategy, but the team needs to own and embody anything new you create.
Forget this at your peril. Our second-time-around rebrand (S-T-A-R) saw at least one brand meeting end with 25 people standing in a 18 square metre conference room, as more and more team members came to give their two-cents’. In fairness, our brand agency had never seen this before, and nothing gets done trial-by-committee; so centralised decision making – while taking the team into account – is crucial.
This is not DIY territory
You already have too few hours available for work and too few hours with your family. If you aren’t a branding agency, then you don’t know how to rebrand.
The revelation for our second time around rebrand was the extent of planning, logic, science and people-hours that go into a genuinely business-driven rebrand. When you have investors, customers, staff and the public looking at your result, give them the courtesy of doing it properly and get expert advice.