Running a successful small business often requires a willingness to take reasonable risks. If you wish to expand your business, introduce a new product or bring in new employees, there will always be some risk that the new “normal” won’t work as well as the old one.

The key is to approach risk logically. The payoff is often worth the risk if you take steps to minimize the potential downside. This is especially true when it comes to rebranding an existing business. Why rebrand? It depends on your goals for the business. Perhaps you’ve been skating by on an old name that doesn’t appeal to today’s Internet search-savvy customer and you’d like to attract a digital audience. Or maybe you bought an existing business and need to rebrand in order to distance yourself from previous owners. Either way you’ll want to do some research to see what the current brand perception is in the marketplace and get your ducks in a row before you make the leap.

What Will You Lose, and What Will You Gain?

Rebranding can be an effective way to update your business, but it’s not automatic. If your current business is well established, it’s important to consider what you might lose by switching, in addition to the potential benefits. Will your processes change? How will that affect the goodwill you currently enjoy or will you be starting from scratch? Is there a way you can make the shift in small steps over a period of time? It’s one thing if you’re buying an existing SMB that needs a fresh start. But if you wish to update the image of a company you already own or want to launch a companion business, you’ll have to answer these questions from the viewpoint of your customers. Are you throwing a disconnect at them or will the change improve their overall experience? What kind of relationships have you developed with influential customers and can you reach out to them to get their perspective? How much traction will you lose or gain from redoing your website, social media and/or other marketing assets?

In the video below, Jim Kolb, a Wisconsin florist, tells his rebranding story. He explains why he made the change and outlines the risks and ultimate payoffs from that change.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Jim Kolb’s new brand, Couture Events, shares many of the characteristics of his successful House of Flowers brand. Personal service, passion for his products and a commitment to quality are guiding elements of both, which is extremely important.
  • Be consistent in your presentation. Whether you are visiting Couture Events in person, interacting with its website or connecting through social, you get a unified picture of what the business is about. So many businesses struggle with this because they don’t step back and look at their brand’s total footprint in both the digital and traditional space.
  • Remember that rebranding now involves much more than some fresh signage and a new ad campaign. Your blog, social media, web design, SEO and much more will be impacted by rebranding, so be sure everything makes sense across the board before diving in.

Get Your Employees Comfortable with Change

Change starts from the top, but your employees are often the ones who will be executing these changes day to day. It’s important to ensure that your employees are on the same page, both in how to enact the desired changes and how to remain comfortable when processes shift.

Don’t forget that your employees are the engine that runs your business. Get them on board early and keep the communication lines open.

  • Give advanced notice. The time to prepare your employees for big changes is before those changes take place. Explain any planned changes to those who will be affected and make sure they understand the “why” behind the change. Ask for their input and get them invested during the planning stages.
  • Communicate readily. Keep your employees informed throughout the entire process when a change is made. Remember that change isn’t always smooth and adaptability is key. Keep yourself open to their ideas, calm their fears and don’t be stingy with praise. Let them know you’re thankful for their help and understanding.
  • If you need help, ask! In addition to your employees, turn to other trusted advisers, including your lawyer, accountant, family and friends, to better understand whether rebranding will be beneficial.

Keep a “Big Picture” Perspective

Rebranding can be scary, but big goals can’t be accomplished without big ideas. Before you enact any major changes be sure to heed advice from trusted advisers and customers, keep your employees informed and involved, and plan for every contingency. Using a methodical, staged approach worked well for Jim Kolb’s Couture Events and it can work for your business too.

This post was written in partnership with Progressive Insurance. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional small business tips, check out Progressive’s Small business Big Dreams program.

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