Branding for SMEs is extremely important. It distinguishes your small business from the crowd and opens up a relationship with your clients or consumers. With over 237,753 SMEs operating in Ireland, standing out from the crowd is a basic framework for any successful business. So, when you need to rebrand your SME, how exactly do you ensure your branding stays afloat in a sea of competition?

Who do you think you are?

1. Ensure you know your SME’s original brand and what people liked about it. Keep in mind what exactly requires an update and what is good to stay the same. Take for instance Gap’s rebrand in 2010. The company’s attempt to completely overhaul their own logo was a disaster met with extreme confusion and backlash by consumers. Eventually Gap reverted to their original logo, which is exactly why the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a good mantra to go by.

Why do you want to change?

2. Why are you rebranding? If you aren’t sure of the answer to this question, how will your customers understand your rebrand? You can’t be silent about changing things in a business – secrecy within anything surrounding your customers will get you nowhere. If you’re thinking of rebranding it’s best to ask yourself a couple of simple questions before you take the plunge. If you can’t justify the need for a rebrand, then it’s probably unnecessary.

These four questions are a good place to start:

  1. Is your brand outdated?
  2. Do you have or need consistent brand communication across all channels?
  3. Have you recently been losing key clients/customers?
  4. Have you changed anything about your business?

Know why it is you are rebranding and get ready to tell your customers honestly by announcing your rebrand. Covertly changing logos is exactly what got Gap in the firing line so make sure you’re ahead of the game.

Who do you think you’re talking to?

3. Use your brand voice wisely. Make sure it’s authentic and as honest as possible. Consumers can sense inauthenticity a mile off. Brand voice can help customers/clients get a sense of who they’re spending money on before they even open their wallets – so it’s definitely a key aspect. Don’t fabricate a backstory or feign a reason for rebranding. Honesty is truly the best policy.

How can it be so simple?

4. Keep it simple. Focus on a key message with one logo, assign one font and two colours. The busier the logo the harder it is to understand. Make sure the imagery or elements in the logo are clean-cut and attractive whilst making sure to avoid using any elements that distract from your key messages. If you go down the route of hiring external help for branding, ensure you have a clear idea of what you want to convey to your audience. Designers usually work best if you are able to accurately convey your brand identity to them before they begin the logo.

Don’t talk to a brick wall?

5. Where does your branding live? Be aware of exactly where you need to portray your branding. Do the majority of your consumers/clients access your services/goods via the internet? Or is it a more customer-facing business? Have a look through all your communication channels with your customers and put more emphasis into the most key areas.