Creative, entrepreneurial people have an innate desire to explore. After adopting a fearless attitude, it becomes easy for them to seek out newness and experiment with confidence. But, there is a shadow side to these seemingly harmless cravings of novelty: absent-minded innovation.
In part, it seems like this need to find something new or start several projects without finishing them stems from a need to grow. Be it more market share, more customers, more offerings, whatever. The point is that rebellious brands cannot afford to be all things to all people. Instead, they seek to focus.
I want you to think about taking a picture of somebody. You point your camera at them and they are blurry. The image sucks and your intention of capturing the moment is lost. Now focus on the subject. Clarity, definition, context, all of these things become evident in light of focus. You get the full picture.
Now try focusing on two people at different depths and distances. It gets much harder.
What's the point? In a world that cannot seem to satisfy its desire to be all things to all people, rebellious brands fearlessly focus. They are ok with gaining the full picture of one subject instead of trying to capture many.
Before we jump into details, we gotta get one thing straight:
A brand is the gut-feeling has toward a business. By definition, being "on brand" would mean that the feeling you want people to have is being felt by your target consumer. Being off brand would mean they feel the opposite or something unrelated. For example, if I want people to feel "rebellious," then similar feelings like edgy, badass, and cool are right up my alley. What I'm looking to avoid is the opposite; safe, quaint, pretty, timid, etc. With me so far? Cool, here are the three steps:
Define your brand
This is done through a brand discovery workshop, it's borderline therapy for business owners. Founders sit in a room with an objective third-party and tell everything they can about their business. Their customers, their dreams and goals, the culture they desire, all of it is put on the table. In doing so, nuggets of information can be pulled that show what someone should feel about the business. The goal is to create a definition of the brand that can be used as a yardstick.
Review all marketing collateral
Social posts, brochures, swag, websites, the name, logo, identity systems, business cards, email templates, everything that comes into contact with a customer is put up for review. It goes without saying that if you're jumping into a rebrand, you are probably not happy with all of these assets anyway, but you need to clarify why that's the case. If you don't you open the door to repeat the same mistakes in recreating them.
Make a game plan
Using the items in the review, make a plan of action prioritizing the elements that would have the greatest impact on the brand. Then, get to work updating them and getting them on brand.
There is a lot of science and research to building a brand. Knowing the right things to say, the right colors to differentiate yourself from the competition, all that other stuff that is tactically important to the job. It is important, absolutely. However it is easy to approach branding with all head and no heart, which is where things go wrong. Most likely, it is because entrepreneurs and change-makers overlook a giant piece of the puzzle: themselves.
That's right, you. You have a story. You have been places others haven't, you have a personality, and you have envisioned a world different than the one you currently inhabit (that's why you're in business after all, to change the world). You are a rebel because you've decided that the current way things are is not satisfactory. You are driving change.
My ask is this: don't lose sight of how important your story is. It is your biggest asset in building a brand.