Rebranding is a drastic action that's is rarely necessary. But nonetheless, it's sometimes the only option...so today we are going to walk through that process. Below are the essential first steps in the rebranding process.
1) Understand your market. The essential goal of branding  is to differentiate yourself from your competition. Therefore, before you do anything else, spend time thoroughly researching your market. Understand the branding strategies of your competition. Evaluate which brands have been successful--and why they’ve been successful.
2) Identify your niche in the marketplace. Before kicking off your rebranding campaign, it’s essential that you know exactly which segment of your market you are aiming for. Which customers are you trying to appeal to? How intense is the competition for these customers? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition in order to win the business?
3) Make a clean break with your old brand. If you are rebranding, it means that your old brand is no longer viable. And if that is the case, why would you want any association with it? I'm often surprised to watch businesses, supposedly trying to rebrand themselves, end up with a new brand barely distinguishable from their old brand. Make a clean break. Change the name of your business, the colors, the “feel” of the marketing materials, everything you can. Otherwise, what’s the point?
4) Don’t repeat your mistakes. Your brand isn’t like a car--you shouldn’t need to replace it every couple of years. If you’ve determined that rebranding is necessary, it means that that either you made mistakes managing your previous brand, or that your market has shifted on you. Before proceeding with a rebranding effort, make sure that you understand where you went off course, and that you have a plan in place to avoid repeating your mistakes.
5) Create a plan. Once you clearly understand where you are going and why, it’s time to create a plan. Be realistic with regard to costs and schedule--if you don’t have the resources to commit to the effort, don’t do it yet. A rebranding campaign isn’t something you can do halfheartedly.
A rebranding campaign requires time, effort, and resources. Worse, it essentially nullifies all of the work you did building your previous brand. Nonetheless, from time to time it is necessary. If you are convinced that rebranding is your only option, make sure to take your time and do it right! The last thing you want is to be back in the same situation a couple of years later.
JW Dicks (@jwdicks) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors that consult for small- and medium-sized businesses on how to build their business through Personality Driven Marketing, Personal Brand  Positioning, Guaranteed Media, and Mining Hidden Business Assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at their Web site. Jack and Nick have been featured inThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, FastCompany.com, and many more media outlets.
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