Should we change our brand if we pivot?
Our startup hasn't been doing as well as we want it to. We still see big opportunities in our space and have accumulated a lot of data on what customers want. We are thinking of pivoting. We have good brand recognition, but should we change our brand if we pivot? There is a part of me that thinks we should start fresh since our product offering will be different, but we have also built a great audience under our old brand. Our end users will be the same, but our customers will be slightly different. I know it's probably hard to answer, but what are some of the things I should consider? Thank you.
Tom - I am not disparaging contributors here, but anyone who has answers for you who doesn't know your situation doesn't really have answers, it is advice, uninformed advice. So let's try to reframe the situation...
What do you mean by our startup hasn't been doing as well as we want it to? (How long have you been at it? How far off from expectations are you?)
We have good brand recognition - (What does that mean? Is it awareness, annoyance, and are you recognized for the right thing?)
We have built a great audience - (Great, how? Seems they're not buying, so are they the right audience?)
Before you go in any direction, new or old, think about these things. Many times marketers know something isn't right, so they try something new without knowing what wasn't working. You may just have an adjustment or two to make and they'll beat down your door. I always ask my clients the same series of questions... what have you tried that worked? What have you tried that hasn't? What have you been afraid to try? And why to all of those, you have to ask the tough questions of yourself. Good luck friend.
Rebranding can be a long process, one that takes up to six months to a full year. The Business.com team recently published a guide How to Announce a Rebranding that can help you plan for a successful rebrand. Since the product offering will be different, the business needs to come up with a rebranding strategy to keep the customers from feeling misled.
It sounds like your target audience under the new product offering will be slightly different than your current target audience. If this is the case, I think you should come up with two separate communication plans:
1. To your existing customers. Even though the product offering is changing, what can they count on to be the same and how will these changes benefit them?
2. To your new customers. What is your business offering now that it didn't have before?
When creating new communication plans, ask your employees, loyal customers, vendors, family, mentors, etc. for their input. Rebranding can only be done so often, and this will help you make sure your business is on the right track.
You have a lot of good responses here. I don't see a problem in rebranding, especially if its for another product. If you already have a good audience, then it should be easy to channel them to the new brand for the new product.
You may want to consider a beta test run with your current audience, if you already have the brand in development. Get some feedback and hear from the users themselves.
Now if you are looking for help in doing the branding and need suggestions feel free to message me.
You can really go either way. There are so many nuances of things such as—how is this new product different? What type of pivot is this—pricing? growth engine? positiioning? Are there attributes of the previous brand that would hold the new one back? If you can avoid the hassle of a rename/rebrand, do so for the sake of speed. Focus your resources on the new product and marketing it.
If you REALLY have strong brand recognition -- and if the people who recognize you have POSITIVE feelings about you -- then why throw that away? You can revise (or add to) your company direction and do just fine.
However, if both of my initial stipulations are NOT the case (or not enough) then there might be justification to start building a new brand from the ground up.
First of all you have a company with a growing brand recognition. This is a good time to pivot per other great comments. I would, however, take this into consideration first:
I find that often when a company is not leveraging the way it should, that it often comes down to messaging and presentation.
Example: a client of mine entered my Mentoring Program to prepare to go market. They have an innovative product that is recreating a sleeping industry and sold very well on sites like Amazon but had a high website bounce rate. Their website simply failed to speak to their customer in every way. We changed the messaging to quick, short and easy to understand with complimenting photos and video. Everything shifted.
I've had similar experiences with advertising and PR campaigns that weren't going as far as they should.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and consider "if we were our customer, what would get my attention and create an emotional need to our product/service?"
Finally, just because you add a new product/service doesn't mean it's time to "rebrand" unless it doesn't fit in with your current messaging and core values. A company sr should always be looking for ways to add to their offerings. It provides more opportunity to tell your story and stay top of mind with customers.
Hope this is helpful!
It takes a lot of effort to build an audience. If your new product is related to the old one, and your reputation is good, you should definitely keep the old brand. Is your new product offering different enough to require a brand extension? Elaine has some excellent advice on how to transition.
Tom that's a great question and you will probably get lots of different answers. My suggestion, since you have a great audience under your old brand that you look at leveraging that old brand and developing a brand extension (add-on) that is your new product and then gradually phase out the old one that isn't doing so well. Good brand recognition is hard to achieve so I wouldn't start over. If you have the brand recognition and want to grow faster, take a look at what you have been doing to fill up the sales funnel and adjust it to get more impact.