Freelance consultants represent and inhabit our brand completely. We are what we do and it’s to our advantage to be known for what we do because it’s good for business. It is most advantageous to be considered a known quantity, the obvious choice when clients are in need of our service category. At the same time, it is wise to take a page from the Nicki Minaj playbook (authored by Madonna, as you know) and do a remix every once in a while, to remind the marketplace that what we bring is a little ahead of the curve: au courant, relevant and therefore, worth a premium.
So maybe every three years or so, one may want to shuffle the cards, or play the hand a little differently. Before making any major changes, however, you are advised to obtain a clear understanding of what would be useful to tweak and what to leave alone. To do that effectively, it’s important to— guess what? Talk to your clients. If possible, speak also with those who use your category of services but haven’t hired you. Until you determine what you and your brand represent to clients and moreover, get a handle on why certain folks don’t hire you, your rebranding strategy will be counterproductive.
Media titan Kenard Gibbs, co-founder of Madvision Media and former president of VIBE Magazine, recommends that like Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (1989), you begin with the end in mind. “You need to have some idea as to what you are ultimately trying to achieve …..The end goal dictates how you proceed…..”
Gibbs advises that a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis be done once the customer, industry and other marketplace research have been performed. The SWOT internal (Strengths & Weaknesses, e.g. strategic relationships and expertise) and external (Opportunities & Threats, e.g. market trends, the economy, client needs) analysis guide your rebranding strategy and identify new possibilities that expand the reach of your potential client base. SWOT will also ensure that you maintain services that clients value and that your self-editing is perceived as both logical and authentic for you.
Timing is also of the essence, so be smart about the rebrand roll-out. Set a realistic timetable. Create a timetable for the entire process, from the client and market research and SWOT analysis to rebranding conceptualization, strategy formulation, implementation and assessment phases.
Finally, give consideration to how and when you will announce to clients and colleagues that you’ve refreshed your brand and what that means. Gibbs says “You need to develop an integrated media plan to show that you are available to clients in new and even more useful ways, that there is a new way to interact with your brand.” Social media and website updates are de rigueur, but press releases and paid advertisements in selected media outlets are not to be ignored.
Thanks for reading,