Rebranding is always a tricky subject with legitimate risks to consider. Will people like the new look? (It’s more than that.) Will they know it’s still me? (How do I ensure they will?) Will I lose the brand awareness I’ve built up. Will they understand the renewed or new purpose? A rebrand also comes with rewards. With my rebrand, people will see me as a subject matter expert. Clients will be proud to say they work with me. My brand portfolio is the standard others look up to.
Should you take the time — and budget — to rebrand your business? How about I tell you a bit about my brand’s story.
Bridget Willard’s Brand Story
I began my marketing journey in 2009 while building the online presence for Riggins Construction and Management, Inc. Because so many people began asking me marketing questions, I started the persona “You Too Can Be A Guru” in 2011 with a blog (now this one) and social media presence, including the #GuruMinute Video Series.
After I lost my dream job, I became a freelancer in 2017. I got a tattoo that was meaningful to me then and still strongly represents my core. (More on that later.)
The pandemic got me thinking about what really matters in life. For me, it’s leaving a legacy I’m proud of. Yes, blogging is great. Books are better. In 2020, I published several books and am working on the next book in the series with Warren Laine-Naida to help nonprofits with their marketing. I also moved to Texas in an effort to refocus my life. It’s time for me to be more than a widow living in the shadow of ghosts and the life that could have been. Moving away from the social circle of my past life allowed me to deeply think about both my business goals and my whole health. I left a lot behind but had more to lose if I stayed, like my own identity. A change of scenery and limited to no access to my former life meant I’d be immersed in self-discovery. Total immersion is scary but effective.
Why do I tell you this intimate side of my life? As solopreneurs, our personal lives deeply affect our businesses – and vice versa. Moving gave me the solitude I needed, the quiet, the clarity to distill my ‘why’–or my reason for being, being alive, being an entrepreneur, being a teacher, etc..
I am a teacher who loves empowering small business owners.
Now that my ‘why’ is clear, it is time to double down on myself and my goals. Yes, I love helping WordPress products and services. Yes, I love marketing and offer it as a service. But more than that, I love inspiring small business owners to accomplish y’all’s goals. This is my ‘why’ and my gift: teaching and encouraging people.
It’s important to me, as a teacher, to empower y’all with my services. I walk alongside you — not in front or behind. How does marketing empower my clients? It allows y’all to focus your efforts on closing deals and doing your work. It means more time for you to do what makes you shine and more business and clients for you to shine on! Y’all started your businesses for a reason, too — to help or leave a legacy for your families and communities. Pairing with another business owner who has the same why matters.
I formed Bridget Willard, LLC through Stripe Atlas and am entering the more mature phase of my business. Thanks for allowing me to come alongside you.
So, why rebrand my business? There are many reasons, but the short answer is this: I grew up and so have my clients.
“I’ve known Bridget only two years, but we’ve gone from cookies and milk to the smooth taste of bourbon in that time. Bridget has unleashed awesome books, WordPress products, YouTube content, and, most importantly, inspiration. She has also moved from sunny California to the local news of San Antonio Texas. The entire time Bridget has had her clients in mind, sharing and explaining the fast moving business that is Social Media. I wish I had met her twenty years ago.” Warren Laine-Naida
A Rebrand Recognizes Your Brand’s Story
Your journey, as marketing and communications people like to say, is more important than your destination. Like you, your brand has a destination and is on a journey to reach it. That journey makes you who you are and what your brand is.
And, the journey is the story. There’s the protagonist (the person we identify with), their goal (the end of the story), and all of the challenges they face on the journey there.
If Lord of the Rings wasn’t a trilogy and all you wanted was for Frodo to get to the point, you would have missed the great lines about second breakfast and elevenses, the powerful moment when Gandalf puts his foot down (stick but whatever), and the inner conflict Frodo has over the ring. Should he keep the ring or should he do the right thing? All of those conflicts with himself and his trusted circle, as well as their death-defying feats, make Frodo the person he is. We love him all the more for it.
Our brand’s story isn’t finished either. Every decision we make in our living “Choose Your Own Adventure” book defines who we are and who we are not. The sum of our business decisions affects how our business is perceived. Our reputation is our brand. Are there a few bad cookies? Yes. Do we make mistakes? Yes. Does that end our story? No way. We have successes. We have a whole body of work. We have changed lives. Our brand has a legacy and impact in our circle of influence. Are we perfect? No. Should we give up? Never.
The rebranding process recognizes where your brand has been and focuses on where you’re going.
A Rebrand Focuses Your Brand’s Story
Your brand has a story, yes. All of them do. But how does your brand communicate your story in a way that creates a connection with past, current, and future customers? This is why a rebrand is more than just a logo.
“Many people confuse what branding is. It’s not a logo, product, or promise. Branding is a ‘gut feeling about a product, service, or company.’” The Futur
Where do you want your brand’s story to intersect with your customer’s story? That’s the moment when we make a connection. It’s that mystical friend moment that defines us. It’s difficult to quantify and impossible to measure. Instead we say “we just vibe,” “I like her style,” “she’s a go-getter.”
C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Four Loves,
“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”’
This is no different than the connection a client has with their partner, a baker has with a customer, and colleagues have with one another. Our business does not exist in a vacuum. We’re part of a community — business ecosystem if you will. Our brand stories interconnect with one another. We impact one another.
Going through Rhonda’s rebranding process forced me to think about my customers and who they are. We worked on the brand’s empathy, the intersection of our goals and desires, and how to best communicate the story with a new message, voice, logo, assets, color palettes, and icons. We also worked on clarifying website copy, prioritizing which content, and Marie Kondoing the rest. It is a project we’ve been working on for about two and a half months.
A Rebrand Reframes Your Brand’s Story
Rebranding reframes your brand’s story. If your business has jumped the shark, it’s a good time to reframe how people see you. My brand began as “You, Too, Can Be a Guru” which was tongue-in-cheek to begin with sprinkled with a whole lot of snark. Snark is funny but off putting especially when it becomes sarcasm.
Sarcasm literally means to tear the flesh and is a destructive form of communication. It can be funny, when self-directed. Otherwise, it can cause quite a bit of trouble. In 2017, when I began freelancing, I used my tattoo as my logo. I still think it’s a badass logo, and it’s more than a logo for me. But that says a lot about empowering myself, not my clients. After spending the last year reflecting on who I am and who I want to be, I feel that version of my logo is too aggressive. My personal and professional outlooks on life are different now. Would this badass dragon and flower reflect that anymore? Are they even truly connected to my business goals? I didn’t go through a branding process when I did this.
I never allow my clients to use sarcasm online so why should I let myself do it? The hard truth is that I felt insecure about my knowledge. Now that I’ve been doing this work for twelve years, it’s time to put off childish ways. Yes, I’m a jokester. I love making people laugh. But there is a huge difference between making someone laugh at absurdities and making someone feel small.
My brand is all about community, hospitality, and encouragement. It’s about getting down to the roots of who we are as people — our behavior. How do we build relationships? It starts with creating an environment that is welcoming and comfortable. You offer someone a drink and facilitate conversation that is lively and fun. That’s Human Behavior 101 — online or off.
I teach marketing knowing that the tech changes, human behavior does not. This is the key premise to my process. It’s our job as businesses to facilitate and create a comfortable place for our clients to get to know us better. Why not carry that behavior forward online?
Should Your Business Rebrand?
Maybe the time is right for your business to rebrand itself. If you feel that your business lacks focus and needs to be reframed for the public, then rebranding a great idea. Perhaps you purchased a business and it’s time for reputation management. Yes, that’s a perfect time to rebrand. Did you lose your job and your side hustle is now your full-time gig? This is a great time to rebrand. Perhaps some of your own personal growth has caused you to refocus on your why. Maybe your business is shifting the ideal customer or target audience. This is a great time to rebrand.
When shouldn’t you rebrand? You shouldn’t rebrand if you don’t have a rebranding partner like I do with Rhonda Negard of FatDogCreatives.com. She asks the hard questions that cause you to spend time on introspection. If you don’t have the time to focus on the level of intimacy you’ll need with your marketing agency, then it’s not a good time. If you don’t have the budget, it’s not a good time. If you’re really just bored with your business, you run the risk of changing just to change. That’s never a good enough reason to rebrand.
Should your business rebrand? My answer is this — I don’t know. Are you ready for it?