Letting Go: Time for a Brand Refresh

Entrepreneurs and business owners are a surprisingly sentimental group.

Often when a company was founded, family members and close associates had a hand in its forming and shaping.

The symbols and/or logos utilized to represent the new entity are often creations born of the necessities of speed and budget constraints. And while it can be argued that it is okay to look home grown when you are in the homegrown phases of startup and operations, eventually the bootstrap branding only gets you so far.

The realization usually hits when sales have plateaued or you’ve implemented a growth strategy that takes you out beyond your circle of friends and the limited reach of referrals. This is when things become more challenging and expensive to acquire new customers, especially if the branding and messaging don’t align with the offering.

A deeper dive into the psychology of sentimentality tells us why.

Since we’re all human and our companies are started and run by humans, it can be difficult to be entirely objective – especially when it’s “your baby.” Your connection to the logo is coming from an emotional place rather than a rational one.

The goal is to make a business decision driven by objectivity — rather than sentimentality — to ensure its success.

So how do you overcome your strong connection to the time it was created? You don’t.

Instead, recognize the role your homegrown logo and brand materials have played in your success, knowing change is inevitable in the life of any business. Does that mean they’re still the best representation of your business today? That depends on your answers to the following questions.

a. Is your business still working with friends and family or has it branched out into the world of direct referrals?

If you’re still working with friends and family and taking care of them and the small number of direct and buddy referrals you have turned into customers, then what you’re doing is fine and you could put off the difficult decisions for another day.

b. If you were to do an online search of your ten closest competitors or peers in your market space and line all their logos up next to one another, does your logo stand out for the right reasons?

Ask a designer to help you with an assessment if you’re having difficulty seeing through your own bias. If the designer’s answer is that your logo absolutely excels and differentiates, perhaps you have gold, and while evolution should be on your mind as you build your company and grow, you might not need to do anything different than you are doing right now.

c. Do you find it challenging when engaging with a potential customer in the early phases of business development and does it seem like every new customer acquisition is expensive, challenging, and difficult?

If so, then perhaps there is a business case to be made for taking a more objective look at your brand symbology (and of course messaging too).

If you answer c., this is your “out” in your own mind to let go of the original art that you have so tightly and lovingly embraced. Know it’s possible to welcome change without disrespecting the past and move your company forward at the same time.

Have a poster made, get a tattoo, or write it into your company’s history. Recognize and honor the original designer who helped you when you had nothing, for they are a part of your story. Give them a stipend generated from the earnings your newly updated brand affords you. Most importantly, never forget them.

Ready to take the next step?

Having guided many clients through this process, our advice is straightforward:

Follow your instinct and the science of human psychology when it comes to assessing when it’s time to evolve. A brand refresh will ultimately lead to a new strategy, logo, and imagery that gives a more accurate representation of where your venture is in its lifecycle, and most importantly, where it’s headed.

Chances are your team has changed over time. And your staff’s connection to the past is unlikely to run as deep as your own. By choosing to move forward with a brand refresh, you and your current team will experience the excitement of starting the next chapter together.

And your company will experience its next phase of growth.

Hungry for some examples? To learn more, explore our work for Eco Lips and Interior Perfection to see how a brand refresh propelled both businesses to new heights.

Bill Bollman
Creative Director

Bill Bollman is FUEL’s Creative Director. Before co-founding FUEL in 2001, he worked for Horizon Communications, JW Morton and Basler Design Group. Bill studied Illustration at Hawkeye Tech in Waterloo, Iowa. An expert in the “old ways” of hands-on print production, these skills influence his work in the digital world to this day. His work throughout his career has been featured in international publications including Graphis, How International Design, Communication Arts, and The One Book as well as numerous design annuals and reference books.

Hometown: West Union, Iowa
Involved in Design and Marketing since 1988
Interests: Fitness, Travel, Movies