Businesses are always growing and evolving - and sometimes you might outgrow what you started, to the point that your business could do with a rebrand. But when is rebranding a great idea, and how should you go about it? We chatted to Joseph Devereux-Kelly of Cool Cold Brew - a range of sugar-free and ready-to-go cold brew coffee drinks - and Nikita Sun of Studio More, the agency behind their rebrand, about how they made it work.
When is the right time to think about re-branding - and when is the 'wrong' time?
Cool Cold Brew
When you’ve got that gut feeling that your branding no longer quite fits with the what you're producing and where you’re selling it (or hoping to sell it), it might be time to rebrand.
I’ve noticed a lot of startup brands like ourselves tend to bring products to market under an initial brand which then changes. Typically designed on a shoestring budget, the initial brand allows you to get your product out there, learn more about customers and where to find them. I only think it is then possible to consider a rebrand as the business changes direction and is planning to transition from ‘start-up’ to ‘scale-up’.
A rebrand shouldn’t be taken lightly, and I think there is definitely a wrong time to do it - such as when it's too early in your business journey, and on too little exposure. If you’ve got a couple of people saying ‘I don’t like your brand’, don’t take it as gospel. Your product and brand is going to appeal to different people and it all depends on who your customer is and where you’re planning to sell it. However, distinguishing between a ‘rebrand’ and a ‘brand uplift’ is really important. The latter should happen every year or two. For example, Amazon has slightly changed its logo dozens of times in its 23 year history. With a rebrand, it should be definitely less so and perhaps even just the once.
Is the business becoming stale and needs a new lease of life? Is the business in a stage of rapid growth and needs to communicate to a new market? Does the business need to adapt to a new range or product release? Simply put, there is NEVER a wrong time to be thinking about building a strong brand future. Brands are built over time, and should be ever-evolving and adapting.
How can rebranding impact upon your startup?
Cool Cold Brew
It's an opportunity! It's a chance to get the opinions of your current customers, buyers, suppliers, business associates, friends and family, and their buy-in to what you’re doing. Thanks to programmes like The Apprentice, these people will love being able to share their opinions during the rebrand process. To most people, it's cool to watch something they’ve had a say in coming alive. Once completed, a rebrand gives you the opportunity to refire your startup! You can gain new exposure with PR and social media, attract new audiences and also begin selling to customers you haven’t won over previously because your product wasn’t quite right for one reason or another.
A brand for a business is like food for a person; it does three main things:
Keeps the business alive – in the beginning of any journey having a clear plan and strategy helps focus and speeds up progression. It’s critical to create a brand the consumer can understand and relate to, as this will build appreciation and loyalty to your product.
Nurturing the business for growth – it is not enough to just survive; a business must be built on substance (value) and a purpose (mission). The brand can then work to bring the business’ values and mission to the forefront.
Stimulating the business for expansion – once the business reaches steady growth, it needs constant stimulation to create interest. A great brand should have many different layers, and should have a strong core message which can be communicated in various ways!
How should you approach designing a new brand?
Cool Cold Brew
With an open mind. Find a good designer, or even better a great agency, who have worked within your field.
We spoke to quite a few agencies and were put off by those who had huge portfolios designing brands, products and brochures for everyone from startups, to corporates, charities and the NHS - we decided to double down and find an agency who worked strictly or at least mostly within FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods).
It's also important to work with an agency which is a similar size to you. If you work with one of the top tier agencies, your startup is going to be bottom of the pecking order, and let’s be honest - no-one wants that.
Make sure you have a brief prepared and agree to a project schedule and deliverables. Be honest and open with them about your thoughts, budget in mind and be prepared to make compromises in some instances but negotiate in others. Be 100% happy about proceeding when you give the go ahead!
Starting with the fundamental questions of Why? (are we doing this), What? (we aim to achieve, apart from money of course!), When? (we plan to do this), Who? (are our target audience) and How? (we get them to notice us). Answering these questions will help the business create a strong brand strategy. The brand strategy is like the foundation of a house; it is the core of the brand and will guide everything going forward, such as the design, the visual language, the brand tone of voice, marketing and more.
How do you let go of your original brand?
Cool Cold Brew
Once you’ve got your designer or agency identified, empower them with a clear and simple brief, but let them get on with the work.
Try not to interfere too much or project manage the entire process. I’ve seen other startups do this and not only waste their time, lots of money, but also annoy the designer and end up with a rebrand that still isn’t quite right - so then they have to do it all again!
If you’re thinking about doing a rebrand, chances are, you are not quite 100% happy with your original brand. The question you’ve got to ask is - is it time for a full rebrand or just a brand uplift?
If it is a full rebrand, be prepared to let go of everything in terms of your current designs, look and feel and just embrace the opportunity. When we looked at our rebrand and brand strategy we even had the dreaded conversation about ‘should we keep Cool Cold Brew as the brand name’? I gave Studio More the option to think about this one way or the other, but we did decide to keep it in the end (obviously!)
In a world that is constantly transforming and evolving, staying still isn’t an option. You have to grow and adapt and a strong new direction for a brand can be the catalyst for massive change. Change is good, change is learning, learning is growing. BE BRAVE!
What are the benefits of great design work?
Cool Cold Brew
The ability to communicate exactly what your business and products do in the most simple and subconscious of ways. A great book to read, which I did myself as we carried out the rebrand, is Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy.
The Cool Cold Brew rebrand has completely transformed our startup and has given us the platform to run a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign and attract national retailer listings.
Apart from bringing the business to life, increasing the business’ opportunities, gaining more attention and sales? What more could it do? We guess design will never save your life, but it could just save your business.
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