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What to Do If You Hate Your Brand

Four steps to building your brand into something that's more true to you.
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Loyal customers? Check. A trustworthy team? Check. Solid profit? Check. But something's nagging at your gut. While everything looks right, it doesn't feel right. This isn't what you set out to build. You hate it. Or maybe you're just bored. Something needs to change--and fast. You need to upend your brand.

It's a scary idea--shaking up this thing that looks right and, at its essence, works pretty damn well. But instead of continuing to sit around with a burlap-skivvies level of comfy, you need to move some pieces around, toss others and build something that's true to you.

Step 1: Assemble your front stabbers.
When prepping to upend your brand, you need a trusted set of advisors: I call them "front stabbers." We all know people who are happy to give their opinions once your back is turned. But front stabbers--experts, partners, customers or friends--are brave enough to offer the straight-to-your-face, no-BS insights you need to set your brand right. They'll help you figure out a new direction and goals for yourself, as well as what existing and (fingers crossed) new customers will want from you.

Step 2: Build a cocoon.
While upending your brand, wrap the process in a cocoon. No need to add customer confusion to the mix until you're ready to show off the overhaul. Inside the cocoon, keep everything you need as you strategize.

Draw up a plan for your brand's goals and new look and feel, as well as how you'll convey those changes to your customers. Set yourself some hard deadlines for key points such as prototype completion, alpha and beta tests, launches and PR/social-support campaigns. Some people you'll probably want inside the cocoon with you: web designers, branding and marketing partners and, of course, the front stabbers. Keep calling on them for their opinions so you can make all adjustments to the brand inside the cocoon before going live.

Step 3: Like a phoenix ...
It's go-live day. Signs and websites come down, new ones go up. Press releases go out. Time to toss those burlap skivvies and enter the world as a whole new you. Everything you hated is dead and gone. Everything worth keeping has been artfully crafted into the brand of your dreams--and your customers' dreams.

Step 4: Don't let it happen again.
Establish a system of checks and balances so your brand never bores you again. Some questions to keep asking yourself and your team:

  • Is this the work we want to be doing?
  • Are these the people we want to be working with?
  • Do we love our customers?
  • I know this will make money, but does the product align with our goals and values?

Upending your brand: Sometimes it's the only way to find out what's worth keeping so you can put your company back on the path of becoming everything you (and the right customers, not just the paying ones) love. The good news is that you listened to that uncomfortable feeling and asked, "What can I do to make this look and feel right?" Because the alternative just sucks. Running a business isn't supposed to be about letting your business run you.