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Is Your Business Brand Outdated?

Is Your Business Brand Outdated?

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: May 6, 2014

Sometimes, it’s tough for a business owner to see what everyone else does. Like an elderly person happily ensconced in a house they last redecorated in 1972, you don’t realize your website is the design equivalent of an avocado green refrigerator, or your logo looks about as current as orange shag carpeting. Is your business brand outdated? Here’s how to examine your brand with a critical eye and see if it needs a refresher.

First, understand what a brand is. More than your logo, font or website colors, more than your advertising and marketing, your brand is the “personality” of your business. It’s what people think of when they think of your business—whether that’s innovation (like Apple), glamour (like Versace) or an affordable little luxury (like Starbucks). Advertising and marketing support and enhance your brand—but they aren’t your brand.

Next, ask these questions:

·         Does your brand convey your business’s current mission? It’s natural for a business’s mission to evolve as the company grows. Maybe your business started out as a simple coffeehouse, but along the way you expanded your mission to include a focus on fair-trade, sustainably farmed coffees. You also donate part of each purchase to organizations supporting sustainable farming in the third world. If social responsibility is now a hallmark of your mission, is that clearly conveyed by your brand?

·         Do customers see your brand the way you do? Consider conducting focus groups or online surveys to explore how customers see your brand. Ask them to choose from different descriptors or attributes—“fun,” “affordable,” “trustworthy,” “exciting” or whatever attributes you believe your brand has. If customers’ perceptions of your brand are way off from how you want to be perceived, it’s time to rebrand.

·         How does your brand compare with your competitors’? Check out your competition’s advertising, websites, social media presence and marketing materials. If all your competitors are using muted colors and sophisticated fonts while you’re using purple Comic Sans, perhaps you’re standing out in the right way—but chances are you’re standing out in the wrong way, as someone whose brand hasn’t kept pace with the times.

·         Has your customer base changed? As your customers evolve and change, your brand should change with them. Maybe you started out marketing to “slackers” in the 1990s and your “extreme” branding reflected that target market. Now, however, those former slackers are parents in their 40s. Your branding needs to change to reflect the changes they’ve gone through. Even if you marketed to teens 10 years ago and still market to teens today, what teens consider cool has changed immeasurably (10 years ago, social media didn’t exist). Keep up with what your customer base values and adjust your brand to reflect that.

·         Is your business website up-to-date? Your website is such an important part of your branding that it deserves its own mention. Simplicity is key in websites today, with icons and images replacing overly wordy site design. In addition, if your website is still using outmoded technology such as Flash or if it doesn't display well on mobile phones and tablets, your online brand will seem hopelessly out of date.

Are you planning to expand? When you’re adding new products, new services, new locations or new markets, it’s a natural time to re-evaluate your brand. Always assess your brand before an expansion so that if a brand revision is needed, you can add this into the costs.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at and visit to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades