On paper, rebranding your small business sounds exciting and — don’t get me wrong — it absolutely is. I am positively over the moon about the new branding (and website!) Erin Lindsey of The Happy Brand Studio helped me bring to life.
Ugh, just look at it! I see myself in it. It’s who I am. It’s where I’m going — wait, it’s where we’re going together. But I’d be a complete liar, liar pants on fire 🔥 if I told you I went into my rebranding adventure motivated and totally ready to burn everything to the ground as I looked ahead to the future.
In reality, I’ve been dragging my feet on making this change for a very long time. Because, as fun and liberating as the rebranding process is, it’s also a painful one for small, independent business owners and solopreneurs (like you and me).
You need to separate who you are right now from who you want to become. You need to look critically at the work product you’ve created over the years and admit you’ve outgrown it. That what once felt like effortless, organic extensions of your brand are no longer serving you.
You need to be like Madonna who is willing to say she doesn’t like her earlier songs like “Material Girl.” Although that song shot her right to the top of the charts, over time, she viewed version of herself as outdated as she evolved as a performer.
Or, for those of us who have never starred in A League of Their Own or kissed Drake on stage at Coachella, it’s kind of like looking at yourself in photos from high school — or that one time you decided you’d look great with bangs.
Back then, you loved how you looked.
Today, however … yikes.
“The last thing I have time for is a rebrand.”
I clung to this excuse for ages, the way Rose clung to that door in Titanic. I’d tell myself that I was too busy with work, I was too busy at home being a mama to two beautiful kids, and on and on. So, the thought of adding something else to my plate that would take up more time made me feel physically ill.
Still, even though I couldn’t find time to shower every day, time was a convenient excuse that allowed me to skirt around the real reason why I didn’t want to move on.
I knew this rebrand you see in front of you right now would take me way outside of my comfort zone. Yes, I needed to move forward, but I had grown comfortable with my old platform and how I presented myself:
I think this is something anyone who has gone through rebranding a small business can attest to — even though you may not change anything about the actual bones of your business or the services you offer, a rebrand forces you to embark upon a radical transformation in every other way that counts.
It’s like when you buy a house that you know, from day one, you’re going to renovate. Leading up to your close date, you scour Pinterest for renovation tips, paint swatches, and inspiration photos.
You might have to move out while you renovate … and you just freaking moved in. You may have to use the creepy half bathroom in the basement while your master bath gets remodeled. You may wonder how you’ll feed yourselves when your kitchen gets demolished. Is there such a thing as too much Chipotle?
Soon, renovation dreams that thrilled you are overshadowed by feelings of dread and doubt and insecurity. So, you stay “comfortable” with all that doesn’t work for you, because it’s “easier” than doing all it would take to enact change.
In a way, I started feeling trapped in my own branding “house” before I finally made my rebranding leap. But that wasn’t always the case, of course. As I transitioned from wedding photographer to community builder, this branding worked perfectly for what I needed at the time:
As I moved through that season of life, I leaned into my brand being a gentle, soft, and nurturing place where you could come to connect and share with others. I wanted to create a safe community for small, independent business owners and solopreneurs to land.
Then something snapped.
For the past six years, I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with you all. In early 2020, I literally drove across the country and hugged nearly 2,000 of you. I listened to your pains, what you were going through, and what you needed.
And it made me want to fight for you and advocate for you …
You’re busy growing your businesses and cementing your legacies, so you need someone who can come alongside you and act as a vocal ally when you can’t.
That’s who I am today.
Small, independent business owners, I am your fiercest advocate.
And I was born ready to fight for you.
And I say that with sincere gratitude and reverence for the branding that brought me to this point, to this significant shift in how I’m choosing to show up:
I look at that branding and still see its unimpeachable value. And even though it represents where I’ve come from rather than where I’m going, it would not have lasted me as long as it did if it wasn’t of such high quality and exactly what I needed.
That’s because powerful branding is a lot like a great pair of running shoes. The most top-of-the-line pair of kicks will carry you across countless trails, tracks, and paths … but there is a limit. In fact, you should replace a pair of running shoes, on average, every 300 to 500 miles.
Branding can do the same for you. It’ll take you on endless adventures and help you achieve greater things than you could have possibly imagined. But there comes a point when it will have done its job. So, you thank it and then look for a new brand to take you on the next leg of your journey.
Now, some of you reading this may feel echoes within your own business of what I’ve shared. The brand that doesn’t quite fit the way it used to. The logos and fonts and colors that seem more like a callback to who you once were, but not who you are today.
While I can’t prescriptively tell you if now is the time for your rebrand, I can share with you a few questions that pushed me to finally make the time for the rebranding I so desperately needed:
That last one is particularly important if content creation is a meaningful portion of what you do — either because you’re a content creator by trade or because content creation is how you drive sales for your business.
If you’re ready for a rebrand, I want to challenge you to think bigger. Don’t immediately sign on the dotted line with a designer because you loved their portfolio. To be competitive today, you need and deserve more.
But before you contact a designer, you need to look inward …
Then you need to proactively evaluate potential designers to see if they’re the right fit for you. For instance, from the moment I started talking to Erin about my rebranding project, she blew my mind in two specific ways:
To find your Erin, you need to answer the following questions:
When you get clear on your needs and know what to look for in a rebranding partner, you’ll make your decision so much easier.
For so long, I was scared. Scared I wouldn’t be able to live up to the brand I wanted to create. Scared that some of you would not long to come along with me as I embarked upon a new chapter.
Now that I’m on the other side of this journey, I am so grateful for it. I’m excited to show up on social media again. I’m excited that my branding is more in alignment with who I am today. I’m excited for branding that challenges me to show up in the way I know can and and should. I spent so much time delaying a process that, ultimately, was incredibly validating. In some ways, I want to kick myself for waiting so long.
But another part of me feels as if I’m right on time. I needed time to reckon with what I was truly feeling, to learn how to articulate what was no longer working, to verbalize what needed to change (as well as where I wanted to go.)
More than that, I needed time to reflect and honor the steps I had taken prior to now. Instead of looking backward in judgment at the friction I felt toward the end of this last branding chapter, I give myself grace. It was all part of the process of growing and developing as an entrepreneur and a brand owner.
As some of you look ahead to your brand’s next chapter, I can’t tell you when it should happen or what it should look like. Those are questions you need to answer on your own. But what I will tell you is to give yourself grace.
When you picked up the branding you have now, it was exactly what you needed. Even if it wasn’t perfect or ideal, you did what you needed to do, and it served you well. If and when the time comes for you to move on, don’t forget to express gratitude for how far it brought you in your journey as a small business owner.
We only are able to travel ahead into the future because of where we’ve come from.
Special thank you’s—there are so many people that I need to thank who made this rebrand possible. Thank you Erin Lindsey of The Happy Brand for bringing your design genius to the table, Abby Grace for the spectacular photography, and Liz Murphy of Buona Volpe for your copywriting + strategy support.
© 2023 Natalie Franke