BY PAMELA WILSON One of the most common questions I’m asked at Big Brand System is “When do I know if I should keep my old brand or start over with a new one?” It’s a tough question. Recreating (and re-establishing) a brand is time consuming and costly. Read on to discover when to make a change, and when to stick with your current brand. It’s not attracting the customers you want If you set out to target a specific customer group but your current customers don’t reflect that group, you have two options: One option is to adjust your brand and the way you market it to try to right the course and attract the customer you were originally aiming for. The other option is to accept that you’ve attracted a different group than you originally thought, and recognize that this may be the direction your business will go. In the end, it’s a business decision. If your business is generating profits with the group you currently serve — and you enjoy serving them — you could embrace your current reality and build on it. If your current customer base doesn’t make for a profitable and fulfilling business, it might be worth the time and effort to change your brand. It looks dated When creating a visual brand, it’s smart to aim for a visual style that’s classic and won’t look prematurely dated. If your current brand is hopelessly out of date, consider modernizing it, but do it carefully. My recommendation? Use your out of-date brand as a starting point if possible. Create a new visual brand using any elements that aren’t outdated. These might include your colors, fonts or logo symbol. Build on what you have, and modernize only the parts that are truly out of style. Doing this will make your job easier when it comes time to establish your new brand: your prospects and customers will see a visual link to the old brand, and you won’t be building recognition from scratch. The brand name no longer says what you do If your brand no longer states what your business does, this seems like a clear argument for creating an entirely new brand. After all, your business name is the first information prospects have about what you offer. If it doesn’t say what you do, you need to make a change. But before you wipe the slate clean and begin thinking about new business names, consider whether you can make a tweak in your name so it better reflects what you do. Think about the target audience for your old business, and compare it to who you want to reach with your new one. If there’s some overlap, consider keeping elements of your old brand name when creating your new one. If there’s no overlap at all, feel free to start fresh. It doesn’t reproduce well in print, on the web, or both If your visual brand (your logo, colors and fonts) doesn’t look good in print and on the web, it may be time for a change. This situation doesn’t merit a complete brand overhaul necessarily. Perhaps choosing a clearer font or better colors is all that’s needed. Remember, start by tweaking your current brand if possible. You can’t stand to look at it anymore Believe it or not, this is the most common reason I hear from business owners. They’re just sick and tired of their brand. It’s not that their business has changed, or any of the other reasons above. They’re just bored and crave an update. My advice to them? Resist the urge to make a change if your only motivation is boredom. Because right around the time you’re thoroughly bored with your brand is usually when your brand is starting to become recognizable to the people you want to reach. Let’s face it: your prospects and customers must be exposed to your brand multiple times — sometimes over several years — before they recognize it. So if you’re sick of it, congratulations. Now stay the course, resist the urge to change, and build on the brand recognition you’ve created.