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How do you know when it’s time to rebrand your startup? Here’s 3 hints

January 3, 2018

You might be thinking that it’s too soon for a rebranding because you’re still building the brand or that the brand is doing well, so there isn’t a need to consider a rebranding. That could be the case, but for the most part, a lot of new and growing brands make branding mistakes in the beginning that can later become a detriment to building a sustainable brand. It’s common to see a brand do well only to experience a sudden plateau at the height of its growth where the brand no longer resonates with its audience. The same is true at the startup phase where you can’t seem to keep the fire burning long enough to cultivate your core audience. When that’s the case, here’s five hints that it may be time to reconsider the branding strategy.

Brands have three components – a story, the visuals, and the strategy. As the foundation to building a great brand, we’ll focus on the story as the first step to a rebranding.

1) Your core audience doesn’t understand your ‘Why’

Ever heard to K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid)? It’s so easy to complicate the brand’s narrative when it should be as simple as explaining to a twelve year old. In other words, many founders make the mistake of being so close to the product that they don’t understand how to narrate the brand for the end user and end up being more complicated than necessary.

Keep it simple. The ‘why’ of the brand isn’t the reason why the product or service was created in the first place. The ‘why’ is what the customer ultimately wants and the experience they desire. The reason why your customers will choose your brand over your competitor’s is sometimes because of a deeper underlying want. The ‘why’ behind the people who drive Teslas is because they probably admire the founder, Elon Musk, or maybe the technology makes them feel empowered and innovative and probably resonates with some aspect of their life.

2) You need a stronger, more compelling brand story

Brands are created in the mind, which is also tied to the ‘why’. And since there’s an unrealized aspiration or deep desire that compel customers to choose a brand, your brand’s story should convey the type of value that you are adding for your customers. Great brands build a bridge between who your customers are and who they want to be.

3) The brand lacks a compelling differentiator

What’s really different about your brand? And it’s not what you think is better than your competitor but the value that your consumers hold in their mind. Again, this ties back to the value creation story and the ‘why’, and if you don’t meaningfully communicate those two things, then it’ll be challenging to compete on differentiation. There’s so many ways to differentiate a brand from innovation and personalization to convenience and the customer experience, but it must be compelling enough to really matter.

There are additional reasons to consider rebranding, but don’t make the mistake of refreshing the brand symbols (i.e. logo, tagline etc) and thinking that you have a new brand. It’s much more and requires a deeper dive into the heart and soul of the brand so that the ‘why’, story, and differentiation all align.

If your brand is reconsidering its creation story or needs to revisit your messaging structure and strategic direction, we encourage you to consider our 8-week Branding Incubator. You can also email us at