Rebranding an established company can be both exciting and scary. The fear is that a new image will alienate loyal customers. The exciting part is reconnecting with the core mission and setting new goals. The cost is high, without any guarantee of payoff. But what is the cost of standing still?Every business goes through cycles of growth. An upward trajectory will eventually plateau, and then decline, if the business does not reinvent itself. Rebranding is a design process that requires the business owner to assess the marketplace now, serve the needs of customers now, and expand services into new areas that are in demand now. A lot changes in 5 to 10 years.

Rebranding is more than a “fresh coat of paint.” It may involve a new name, a redesigned logo, redecorated office space, new signs, new website, and many other components. It may end up with the decision to drop customers or services that are no longer profitable. It will certainly involve thinking about more effectively reaching the people that are the best fit for the business. In other words, rebranding requires a business strategy as well as design strategy.

In the Wall Street Journal article “Extreme Makeover,” Aja Carmichael talks to entrepreneurs who have gone through the rebranding process. Katie Adams of Katie Adams Neuro Muscular Therapy went to a professional rebranding firm when she opened a second location. They recommended she take her name out of the business name, drop the whimsical calligraphy and illustration, and use a crisp typeface and fresh rosette emblem. The new business name—360 Neuro Muscular Therapy—and promotional material has resulted in a doubling of gross receipts, on track to triple by next year.

Jack and Jason Dennis hired a local design firm to help rebrand their retail music store when they opened a downtown store in addition to their suburban location. “The rebrand was great for what the theme of the store was,” says Jack. “Our business needed that level of professionalism to get it right the first time.”

“Rebranding my company was totally worth it,” says Katie Adams. “The process gave our company more of an identity, and it’s become something of substance.”

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