When people think about branding, they generally think about a name and a logo and not much else. Yes, you end up with a slick visual identity, but a great brand goes a lot deeper. And as a small-business owner, uncovering your brand purpose or voice is where you get the most value. Miss that and you have wasted serious time and money. Below are the five things I learnt when taking the plunge to rebrand my app development business.
Lesson 1 – Involve your team
A consulting business like mine is the people. Of course, they are going to have a significant influence, but your brand needs to reflect your team, their values and culture – where you are now and where you want to be.
We held a series of team-based activities to uncover what we liked about Wave and why it was important to us. I made sure the team had time outside the workshops to think about and prepare their contributions. We started broad to uncover our core values and progressively narrowed in on our “why”.
Lesson 2 – Know your business inside out first
When you buy a business, there is a strong desire to put your own stamp on it pretty fast. One of the best decisions I made was not to rebrand too quickly.
I waited three years until I started the rebranding process, for a few reasons. I wanted to ensure a seamless transition for my clients and team. I also wanted to get to know the existing business deeply so that I could review not just our brand, but our business strategy, as they are interlinked. This meant taking the time to understand what my team did on a day to day basis. This helped immensely when considering what we then stood for as a company and where we should focus.
Lesson 3 – Don’t rush it!
I discovered that, for the best result, you need to let things simmer! We scheduled our rebranding process over several months. This gave us time to really think about the strategy in between the workshops. As the activities became more focussed and moved towards key messages, values and visual elements, we entered a process of constant revision. By continually refining, we honed our purpose down to statements that were as authentic to us as possible.
Lesson 4 – Rebranding is worth the investment
Now that we have a clear purpose – to create better lives through technology – I find our work more fulfilling and motivating. It has made it easier to decide which prospects to pursue, and which are less aligned. While the improved visual presentation of our capability was an immediate benefit, the real return came over the longer term. We found that companies who had similar values sought out our services and plenty of our prospective clients specifically mentioned an alignment with our brand.
Lesson 5 – Consider using an external company … including for implementation
Even though we deliver branding services for our apps, I chose to enlist an external brand consultant. This ensured there was someone with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective leading the process. Where I would do things differently next time is to investigate using an external company for the brand roll out. Because we had the capability, I chose to do everything internally. This was great from the perspective that the team already had the context but after prioritising the critical aspects – website, key documentation, business cards – I did deprioritise implementation to client work. To this day, we still need to update that door sign!
Guy Cooper, Managing Director, Wave Digital