If your business’s original branding was a DIY job, or you’re yet to do any real branding at all (and think you should), the new year is a great time to take stock and start the process of rebranding a business. But what comes first? The logo? Look and feel? Your tone of voice? There’s definitely a right way to approach it, says personal branding specialist Emma Lovell, founder of Lovelly Communications. “Doing things the wrong way round can be a long and expensive exercise!”

Post-pandemic, rebranding is a hot topic for businesses who’ve reinvented themselves and enjoyed massive growth, adds business coach and digital marketing trainer Brook McCarthy, founder of Hustle and Heart. “But rebranding is also something you may need to do if you originally branded on a shoestring,” she says, “or haven’t touched your brand in 10 years.”

So, let’s break down what branding is and how to tackle it.

Branding: The Basics

Getting the basics right is essential when rebranding a business

Your brand counts for a lot – and it’s far more than just colours, fonts and a logo, says McCarthy. “My favourite quote is from Jeff Bezos, who says, ‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room’ – and that’s true,” she says. “It’s your values, brand personality, tone of voice, opinions, sense of humour. It needs to magnetise your ideal clients to you, while repelling those who aren’t your target market. It needs to position you among your competitors, communicate your pricing and motivate and inspire people.”

It’s a long laundry list, for sure – but to boil it down, effective branding is not so much about you, but about who you serve. It may also be about cleverly tying personal branding in with your business branding, as Richard Branson does with Virgin. “Branding gives your business a personality and a way for your customers to connect with you,” adds Lovell. “People want to deal with and buy from people.”

Hot Tip: Make sure your brand and personal values align. “The digital world and the ‘real’ world are increasingly indistinguishable, so make sure your branding values are congruent and consistent with your actual values,”says McCarthy. “You don’t need to be Mother Teresa, but nor should you say one thing and do the total opposite.”

SEE ALSO: How Your Small Business Can Reap the Benefits of Outsourcing

Brand Identity, Tone of Voice, Logo: What Comes First?

Make sure you identify your brand guidelines and tone of voice when rebranding a business

Jumping in and getting a logo designed may feel like a natural first step, but that’s putting the cart before the horse, warn experts.

“A lot of business owners start with the colour palette and the logo and the cool graphics and how it’ll look on Instagram,” says Lovell, “but you actually need to begin with a key messaging guide. Who are your customers? Who do you want to attract? What are you trying to say? And what are your goals? That’s your messaging, and that needs to come first.”

She suggests asking the company doing your branding to also develop a brand guide or style guide. You should also have a key messaging guide or tone of voice, which might include writers’ guidelines so your site and your social media channels will look and feel consistent.

Hot Tip: Be consistent in all your brand communications “Often I find brands have one tone online, then their newsletter is in a different tone – it’s jarring,” says Lovell. “Make sure you have a style guide and your messaging is consistent whenever you’re talking to customers.”

How Much Should You Pay for a Logo?

Pentagram designer Paula Scher famously charged $1.5 million after designing the Citibank logo on a cocktail napkin in five minutes flat. But don’t worry – that’s not generally the going rate! “I’ve seen logos done for $150 and logos and branding that cost $5000,” says Lovell. “I paid $500 for mine and that included a brand guide along with my assets. Whatever you pay, understand what you’re trying to say and who you’re trying to say it to before you brief a designer. Be aware that you get what you pay for. And if you have an app that’ll appear on a smartphone, think hard about how a new logo will look and be received.”

Why Might a Business Need to Rebrand?

Why is rebranding a business necessary? It can ensure you connect with your changing audience

After a year in which we watched gin companies pivot to make hand sanitiser and donut bakers shift to gifts boxes, it’s a good question.

“Rebranding might be necessary if you set yourself up really quickly, or your brand is dated, or you’re not connecting to your audience anymore,” explains Lovell. “Your company may have evolved, your brand may not reflect your values, or who you serve has changed. Those are all good reasons to consider rebranding and you should start with a brand audit.”

Successful rebrands aren’t necessarily a complete departure from what went before, so taking your existing customers and fans with you is key. “Explain what you’re doing ahead of time and why,” says McCarthy. “Make your customers feel included and welcome, and help them bond with the new brand.”

SEE ALSO: How to Plan a Successful Brand Refresh

Avoid Common Branding Mistakes

Avoid common mistakes like following trends when rebranding a business

As a business owner, you might find yourself bored by your own logo, or swayed by a groovy design trend on your socials that you want to emulate. But take care, warns Lovell – the first mistake businesses sometimes make is rebranding at all.

“Rebranding to a certain style or trend because everyone else is doing it won’t work because you’ll just fall into the masses,” she explains, “and potentially lose your customers because they no longer connect with it.”

Another common branding misstep is deciding you can do it yourself, says McCarthy. “I would never attempt to DIY my own branding. It’s an excellent investment and it’s going to appear on every piece of communication you put out, so it’s worth saving for.”

On that note, avoid trying to micromanage the designer, she adds. “That’s like buying a dog then attempting to bark for it! Spend your time and headspace researching and finding a designer, give them an excellent brief, then trust the process and leave them to it.”