Most of the time, when I talk about a brand making an emotional connection, I’m concerned with connecting to a chosen audience. But what about you, a business leader, being emotionally connected to your own brand? After all, it all starts with you and your team, believing in your brand promise, living it each day, and respecting the visual representation of your brand.  When that happens, your customers feel it. It elevates their experience and creates loyalty.

But what is the process that you go through when it feels the brand may be in need of revisiting?

You Start Feeling It

Perhaps customers aren’t having the same connection they once were. You’re not having the same experience with customers you once were. This could be due to market shifts, changes in what or how people want to experience your product, or demographic trends. Your sales could be just fine, but your brand could be totally off. Regardless, you start to feel things aren’t the same as they once were.

You Go Through the Stages of Grief

  • Denial … you’re shocked. This couldn’t possibly be happening. So you go through each day as you always have.
  • Anger … you may shout “What’s wrong with these people? What’s wrong with me and my company?”
  • Bargaining … this is where the “what if’s” come into play. What if you try this one last thing, what if you’re OK settling for what your brand has become?
  • Depression … you feel helpless, and wonder if there’s anything you can do that will make a difference.
  • Acceptance … you gather the strength and realize you can make a change. You’re ready to look deeply into yourself and revitalize what you stand for.

You Start Running

You become suddenly energized – manically. You’re the person with big dreams and plans. You start running, fast. You think you want big changes. But here’s the funny thing that tends to take place: tactics and action take priority over strategy. You end up doing a lot of meaningless activity, and you forget about the emotional connection you’re trying to make.

You Can’t Let Go

Somewhere in all that activity, you realize that you love your existing brand. You don’t want to say goodbye to it. There’s a part of you that’s afraid of what’s new. Inevitably, you start going through the stages of grief all over again, but now you’re there for a second time. You deny what’s happening. You’re angry at the people helping you refresh your brand. You bargain with them – what if we just changed our current logo from red to blue, and what if we just adjust a word in our brand promise? You get depressed because you feel things are spinning out of your control.

You Face Your Fear (Hopefully)

What happens next, and whether you reach the fifth stage of acceptance is up to you. The choice is yours to make. It takes being honest with yourself, and working to keep yourself out of a state of fear – fear that people won’t like the refreshed brand, fear that you have no choice in the matter, or fear that leads you to avoid making the decision all together.

If you make it, here are the steps to rebranding from the inside out:

  1. Create a vision

Before embarking on any project to update your brand, create a vision (if you don’t already have one). Imagine what’s happening if your brand was truly in alignment with your needs and desires, and your customers needs and desires. What are the results of that alignment? How does it make everyone feel? Writing this vision will help you become crystal clear on what you want.

  1. Choose a partner

Your partner (or partners) in the process could come from within your organization, or it could be an outside firm that you hire to reframe your brand promise and create the visual elements that will complement it. Share your vision for your brand. Have open and honest discussions about what the vision means to each person on the team. Ensure that all understand and are aligned with the vision.

  1. Be open

Others will make suggestions and create concepts based on their own experiences and frame of reference, which is likely completely different from yours. That’s a good thing. Love every idea (even if just for a short while). This process uncovers ideas that you may not have considered on your own. It pushes you to think more broadly. Collaborate with the team to give honest feedback.

  1. Remove the fear

Making a change can be a scary thing. However, if the team has communicated openly throughout the process, has stayed true to the vision, and executed based on the vision, the fear has a tendency to melt away. Communication is key to creating a great solution that every person can support. Yet we’ve experienced many clients who fear giving feedback and speaking what they’re really thinking. This is a key piece of fear to remove. We need your thoughts. If you dislike the direction you’re moving and what you’ve seen so far, say so. Holding back creates frustration and resentment for you, and doesn’t allow us (or whoever your partner on the project is) to do our best work.

  1. Invite acceptance

The process I’ve described above is a journey, and there are several ways acceptance can show up as a result: One, you realize your existing brand was just fine after all, it just took this process to help you realize that it is in alignment with your vision. Or, two, you arrive at change. It could be a minor change that makes a big impact, or it could be a complete overhaul.

Regardless of the result, know that you have choice in this – and whatever you choose is OK. What you do want to be aware of if why you’re arriving at the decision, whether you truly are intrinsically making your choice, and that you can own, whole-heartedly, that choice.

As an owner, I get it, change can be hard. But what I encourage you to do is get past the place of feeling you can’t let go because you’re afraid (which isn’t a decision based on your internal desires), and move to a place of openness. Once you’ve reached that place, you can make an authentic choice.

Article written by

partner/marketing visionary/Don Henley worshipper