By Andy Roe

Rebranding your business can be a risky move. Perhaps the most famous example is when Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke” in April of 1985. The new formula and brand was an instant disaster with consumers and they changed it back to the original within a couple months.

More recently, you probably remember Gap releasing a new logo that was so reviled it hardly lasted a week.

These, of course, were highly recognizable brands to begin with. As a small business, you may still be establishing your identity. So there are valid reasons a rebranding might be necessary.

Consider rebranding if any of the following are slowing down your business:

  • Your brand is misleading – If you’re a software developer and everyone thinks you’re a graphic designer for the web, you’re going to attract the wrong kind of customer. It will take up your time and it could hurt your reputation.
  • Your brand is too much like everyone else’s – Let’s say you’re a dentist, and all the other dentists in your area have a big tooth as part of their logo. You might want something more slick and professional. Conversely, if you’re in an industry that doesn’t have much personality, maybe that’s an opportunity for you to create a niche.
  • Your brand doesn’t represent the scope of your company – Are you a national company? Are you hyper local? Do you have a broad range of services or is there one thing you specialize in above all else? For small businesses, sometimes you want to make yourself look bigger. If you’re an e-commerce business that sells your product worldwide, maybe you have some sort of global theme in your brand. However, if you’re a shop in a small town you have the luxury on playing directly to that town and the people in it.

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a big change like rebranding, you’re likely going to have to do it on a budget. A small business can’t afford to reverse course the way Coca-Cola and Gap did.

Take into account the following to keep your rebranding budget under control:

  • Inventory – Before you spend a dime, take account of exactly what needs to be changed. Rebranding is more than just your logo or name; it’s signs, t-shirts, pens, websites, brochures and whatever else you’re putting in front of your customers. Be sure you have a grasp on the full scope of the project so you can set an appropriate budget.
  • Get input from people you trust – Don’t just hire the first designer or marketing consultant you can find. Talk to other business owners, your most loyal customer, investors and family members. Get recommendations on vendors who will work with you fairly and at a reasonable cost. You probably can’t afford to hire a big creative agency, but a friend may know a really talented graphic designer or copywriter that can help you just as much.
  • Have a clear vision and stick to it – Zero in on what you want to accomplish with a rebranding and don’t look back. If you make big changes and then try to go back and correct because you have cold feet, that can really start costing you. That’s why you do the aforementioned homework first. Once you’re confident in your plan, follow through and don’t second guess.

Yes, rebranding your business is a big step. But when you know it’s the right thing to do and you do it right, you should see a worthwhile return on your investment.

Andy Roe is the General Manager of SurePayroll, Inc., a Paychex Company. SurePayroll is the trusted provider of easy online payroll services to small businesses nationwide. SurePayroll compiles data from small businesses nationwide through its Small Business Scorecard optimism survey, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation’s “micro businesses” — those with1-10 employees. You can follow Andy on Twitter @AndrewSRoe.