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3 Reasons You May Need to Urgently Rebrand And Yes, Covid Is One of Them

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Your brand is your fingerprint, your voice, your very essence of business being. It’s the sum total of everything you do, everything you offer, everything you believe, everything you project. Get it right, and your business thrives. Get it wrong, and you could lose customers by the droves. Let’s avoid that at all costs. 

Here are three important reasons you may need to rebrand urgently: 

1. Your branding makes people think of a pandemic 

When I write the word “Covid-19”, what images do you think of?  Sickness? Stretchers? Viruses? Microbes? Face masks? Colors like red, black, clinical blue, and surgeon-gown-green? What words do you think of? Contagious? Sick? Quarantine? Death? Cough? Sneeze? Testing?

How do you feel when you think about Covid-19? Scared? Isolated? Anxious? Annoyed? Angry? Grief-stricken? Lonely? These are just a handful of common images, feelings and words associated with the pandemic, and none of them are particularly uplifting.  Yet, they may be the very words associated with your brand, if elements of your branding remind people of the virus. You might be wondering, “How would any brand possibly be associated with Covid-19?” 

Well, it might just be coincidence and plain bad luck. For example, years ago I saw a business logo on a van where the letter “o” within the logo was made into a little, spiky virus ball, almost identical to the ones we currently and constantly see on our televisions and news feeds. 

If that company is still operating today, I’d suggest an urgent rebrand. Despite the logo possibly working for them in the past, it will now be linked, even just fleetingly and subconsciously, to something negative and dangerous. It could impact sales. In the above example, the logo lettering was deliberately crafted to look like a virus, but what of all the quirky shapes and images that accidentally look like viruses? 

In my opinion, they should change.  It’s true, Covid-19 will pass but in the meantime, the owners of those businesses are trying to run their brands under a banner of positivity, which is challenging given the possible association with the virus. If you want a positive brand, you must create branding that triggers positive feelings, not negative ones. 

“Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.” – Elon Musk

Make no mistake, brands are getting it wrong. Viewers in the United Kingdom were repelled by a KFC television advertisement featuring people licking their oily fingers in public spaces, after chomping on the chicken. 

What did viewers instantly think of? Covid-19! They were unimpressed that KFC was encouraging people to lick their fingers during a health crises.  KFC pulled the ad. If they hadn’t, their brand could have been temporarily fried. KFC would have been seen as reckless and irresponsible, and definitely not doing their bit for the pandemic. 

In a nutshell, Covid-19 is currently imbedded in the collective global conscience. If your branding is associated with it in a negative way, consider rebranding ASAP. If you cannot invest in rebranding, try to remove or tastefully obscure the images that create the negative association.

2. Your branding is offensive 

Stroll around certain parts of the internet and social media, and you’ll see rampant, chest-thumping, offense taking. You aren’t expected to know everything people are offended about, needless to say, it’s a lot! Some of it completely frivolous. But there are also many legitimate reasons why people take offense. 

With that in mind, the key areas to naturally avoid are: racism, sexism and anything that insults, attacks or marginalizes people because of their age, intelligence, religion, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, and mental or physical disabilities. A timely and well-publicized example of rebranding amidst the foreground of Black Lives Matter, is the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins, who are now temporarily known as the Washington Football Team. 

Redskins is a disparaging term for Native Americans, and it had been the team’s name since 1933 after initially being called the Boston Braves in 1932, prior to moving to Washington. After years of protests from Native Americans, fans and players, the Redskins leadership announced they’d drop the name and logo after a review process, to the anger of some, and the relief of many. 

There has been mockery around the temporary name: the Washington Football Team, and admittedly, it is beige – but likely deliberately so, to avoid any attacks relating to creativity, given it is impermanent. 

Importantly, management understood the very message I’m highlighting in this article, that sometimes the need to rebrand is urgent. While it took the leadership a long time to get to this point, once the decision was made, there was urgency to follow through. Given the process of creating a new brand is going to take time, a temporary new name was pressingly necessary. 

If you’ve ever received complaints about your brand, or sensed a general unease amongst clients and potential customers toward it; or indeed, felt uncomfortable yourself, it’s urgently time to rebrand. 

“Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.” – Richard Branson

3. You’re embarrassed of your branding

An entrepreneur came to me with a common problem. She’d started her business years ago with little money, creating the brand entirely on her own, including designing the logo. As her business developed, it quickly outgrew the branding, and certainly was not reflective of her polished image anymore. 

Her embarrassment was so intense she stopped handing out business cards, using business stationery and telling people to visit her website. Yet, she saw rebranding as a low priority. Until of course, sales began to dwindle. All of a sudden, rebranding became an urgent task because she wanted to shout loudly and proudly about her business again, but couldn’t do so with her existing branding.

My suggestion is, don’t wait for business to falter. If you’re embarrassed about your branding, treat rebranding as a top priority, proactively rather than reactively. 

Although rebranding is a process you’d like to undertake in your own time, there are occasions where it becomes an urgent matter, particularly if your branding causes offense or creates a negative perception around your business. In some cases, saying goodbye to your existing branding might be hard, but saying goodbye to your business, as a possible result of that branding, is much harder. Stay clear, stay respectful, stay congruent, stay the course.

Shona Maitland has 10+ years experience as a business owner, brand strategist and designer at Shona Creative. She has further expertise in ethical and socially-responsible businesses and charities at Brands of Change, her second business.

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Are you completely new to networking?

Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.

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Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.

Rock up with confidence

If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.

Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Where to go networking

If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.

For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!

If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.

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This will happen for you, as long as you put the effort into building those relationships. If you take the time to get to know people, and then check in with them and support them, they’ll see you as a trustworthy and reliable contact who they can call on. And when they feel that way, those leads and referrals you’re looking for will come a-knocking.

Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.

When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!

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