This article is the first of a two-part rebrand series sponsored by 99designs.  I was looking to rebrand Bizapalooza and 99designs was looking for a marketing expert to share what it’s like to do a 1-to-1 Project with 99designs.  In this article I’m going to explain rebranding, when to do it and why and then I’m going to share my personal experience with 99designs during the rebrand.

As Ferris Bueller so famously said:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

Just because I’m a marketing person, doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with keeping my own business and my own brand looking spiffy and current. Life DOES move fast. My clients come first, I have family responsibilities and somewhere at the end of my endless list of responsibilities and things to do — is managing of my own brand.

I like to say that managing your brand is like managing your junk drawer.  At first, it’s nice and neat with everything in its place and as life goes on, things end up in there that don’t belong and pretty soon, you’re looking at a mess where you can’t find anything and nothing matches.

Your branding is a lot like that junk drawer.  On average, you should be taking a fresh look at your branding about every three years.  It’s taken me four years. So don’t feel bad.

How A New Brand Began to Look Old

2013 doesn’t seem that long ago.  But in digital marketing time, it seems like an eternity.  Back then, webinars were really hot.  Lots of experts and brands were using the power of webinars to host branded live events to feature experts, grow their email lists and sell products and services. That’s what I decided to do as well.

So, in 2013, I created what was supposed to be a one-time online event and named it Bizapalooza.  I purposely gave it a different name and created a whole new brand around it.  I had my reasons and they were good ones.

  • I wanted to expand my topic beyond marketing
  • I wanted to feature other small business experts and not just marketing experts
  • I wanted to appeal to a broader base of brands and not just marketing platforms
  • I wanted to create video content instead of just articles
  • I wanted to be able to “sell” the brand, event, and social profiles

Based on all of these reasons, it made sense for Bizapalooza to have its own separate look and feel.  And it looked like this:

But then people kept asking me if I was going to run that event again. So, I ran it again in 2014 and 2015.  It gained traction and sponsors in 2016.  But by the beginning of 2017, the landscape had changed.

The brand had become clearly associated with DIYMarketers.  Webinars were out and live engagement was in.  Livestreaming on Facebook was gaining steam and, since Twitter is one of my favorite platforms, I decided to add two Tweet Chats per week.

Suddenly, things didn’t feel right with Bizapalooza anymore.

It was time for a change.

So Which is it? Refresh or Rebrand?

This can get confusing.  But I think the distinctions are important and they will help you decide exactly what you need to do.  This will ultimately save you time, money and aggravation.

A brand refresh means simply taking your existing brand and updating it and making it better.

DIYMarketers went through a brand refresh back in 2012.  Basically, all we did was change the logo.  Other than that, not much had changed.

Here are some famous examples of a branding refresh.

Rebranding takes that brand refresh and starts to include things like shifts in your marketing message or maybe the entry into a new market or selling to a new type of customer.  It’s a much bigger project and one that should be taken very, very seriously.

So, let’s take a look at WHEN you should consider a rebrand

7 Signs That It’s Time to Update Your Brand

Let me get straight to the point.  An outdated brand (logo, website, marketing materials, packaging, etc) is costing you new customers.  It takes tremendous customer experience and a ton of referrals to overcome the barrier that a clumsy brand puts in front of potential new customers.

Your logo and your website look like it’s 1999

If you haven’t updated your logo since 1999, well it’s probably time for a rebrand.  A few things have happened since 1999 that would require you to refresh your brand.

All logos should have some type of an icon associated with them so that your audience can recognize your site inside the clutter of open tabs in their browser.

Also, consider a tweak if your current logo has shine or shaded components (like this shiny Google Chrome logo on the right).  You want something that is a flat two-dimensional design like the image on the left.

Your customers and market are confused about who you are and what you do

Your business has evolved over the years with new products or services and chances are your logo hasn’t evolved with it.  If you hear people say things like “Oh – I didn’t realize you did that” or if they have a confused look on their face when you explain what you do — you could use a rebrand.

Your business model has changed

Have you added a new component to your business such as a new product or service? Or perhaps you’ve changed the way you do business like adding an e-commerce component in addition to your brick and mortar location.  This is a great time to upgrade your brand image to show your additional value to your customers.

You’ve merged with another brand

If you’ve merged or partnered with another business and this partnership expands your business either regionally or globally, it’s a good idea to take a new look at your logo.  Here is an example of how United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged their brands.

You’re trying to connect with a new audience

Another great time to rebrand is when you’re trying to connect to a new market or audience.  One manufacturer I’ve worked with decided to go into alternative energy markets.  When they added this component to their business, they created a new brand name and adjusted their brand colors to blue and green.

Your industry is evolving

Markets change and evolve and you’ve got to change with them.  My favorite example is Wal Mart.

Not only has their industry evolved from retail to super store to online retailer, their customers have evolved as well.  This evolving brand continues to stay current and work at connecting both with the market as well as with their customers.

You’ve created a product people love, but your brand doesn’t engage them effectively

Auto repair shops do this a lot.  They name themselves after a specific service and then they gain a reputation for something completely different.

In my town, I’ve gone to two auto repair businesses.  One is Medina Muffler and the other is called Gateway Tire.  Both are fantastic businesses but neither is what you think it is.  You’d think that Medina Muffler does mufflers and Gateway Tire does tires.  You would be correct, but BOTH of these auto shops do everything from mufflers and tires to oil changes and windshield wiper replacement.  Both are full service shops, but if you wanted full service, you wouldn’t choose either based on their name brands alone.

How to Refresh or Rebrand Your Business on a Budget

When it comes to updating your brand, you really have two options.  You can go to Upwork, post a project and evaluate the different designers who apply.  Your other option is to use a platform like 99designs and run a contest.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each one and only you can make that decision.  99designs has a great article that goes into great detail about the differences between using 99designs vs Upwork.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you want to go to a large, broad marketplace or a specific platform with only great designers?
  • Do you want to find a single freelancer or see a variety of design options?
  • Do you know exactly what you want and how you want it or do you need guidance on what information to share with a designer to get the best design for your business?
  • Do you need to make sure that your design is “legal” unique and not a rehash of an already trademarked design?
  • Do you need or want professional guidance on how to interact with a designer?

I’ve worked with designers both on UpWork and 99designs and based on my requirements and challenges on my particular rebrand, here are the reasons I chose 99designs to rebrand Bizapalooza:

  • I wanted to work with the best designers with the most experience.
  • I wanted to have a flat fee and not experience any additional “surprise” costs.
  • I wanted to have professional support and guidance to work with a designer. (This was an unexpected value that more than paid for itself).
  • I wanted to see a lot of different and creative options.
  • I wanted to be sure that my design was unique to me.

Now it’s your turn.  Think about your what it is that you want out of your rebranding experience and how you want it to go. Then make your choice on whether you’re going to use a design specific site or a general freelancer site.  Either one is fine, it just depends on what you want.

NEXT: Go behind the scenes of my rebranding journey with 99design