Rebranding vs. Debranding
There is massive amounts of talk about branding all over the interwebs these days. If you want a new logo, you can hop onto Etsy and buy one pre-designed. Having trouble defining your ideal client? There’s probably an e-course for that. Need to strengthen your brand voice? E-course. Marketing? Read any number of the amazing blogs out there that regularly post on social media strategy or traditional marketing campaigns. Still confused? Hire a coach from almost any neck of the woods.
If your brand has a problem, the internet has a solution. Unless…
Maybe you don’t need a new logo.
Maybe your ideal client is defined and found.
Maybe your brand voice is vocalizing itself just fine.
Maybe you’ve got the marketing figured out–both traditional and digital.
Maybe the problem isn’t that you need a new brand. Maybe you need to de-brand. Maybe there needs to be a little bit less logo, a little bit more YOU.
I loved getting to know Jess Lively at AH Inspired. During her talk, she mentioned the book, The Art of Possibility. She told us that the book tells the story of someone asking Michelangelo how he got the idea for the statue of David, and how Michelangelo replied that David existed under the marble the entire time–he just peeled off the layers of rock on top to expose the beauty underneath. (If you read regularly, yes, I talked about this before).
We (branding people, mentors, coaches, consultants, creatives) talk about “building a brand”. But maybe an amazing brand isn’t something you build. Maybe it’s something you strip away, peeling layers back, exposing the beauty beneath.
Maybe the most amazing brands aren’t “branded”, maybe they are de-branded.
Not maybe. They are. Amazing brands are edited to the nth degree. Perfectly edited, refined over time, cared for, curated, loved.
Rebranding isn’t a (always) solution. Changing logos doesn’t make you, or your brand, more authentic. Changing logos is essentially a Band-Aid for your brand, unless there is a structure and framework and WHY behind the logo. We used to have a saying around our office: Don’t patch the hole in the ceiling. Fix the leak in the roof. If you don’t fix the leak in the roof, you’re just going to have to keep patching the hole in ceiling. If you don’t authenticate your brand, you’re probably going to find yourself in a viscous rebranding cycle, constantly changing logos, adding layers of stuff, trying to find a formula that “fits”.
To be effective, a logo needs to have a deeply rooted foundation in WHO you are, and WHY you do what you do.
Authenticating is a challenge. Authenticating asks–no, demands–that you dig deep. It requires courage. In exposing layers, you’ll come across some ugly stuff, and you’ll want to change it. That’s good–some ugly stuff needs to be changed. But it’s also good to remember that the ugly stuff is what makes us all human. It’s what unites us. It acts as a connection point for our brands, if we let it.
Traditional rebranding follows the approach of covering up and avoiding the ugly. Rebranding makes it look nice on the surface, then CHECK, we’re done!
Debranding gets into the core, uncovering the hidden beauty beneath.
It’s like digging for diamonds. Dirty work, but so worth it.
There you go reading my mind again! I spent the day playing with my logo… even though I promised I would work on my “core” first. Then just before bed I thought, “I’m going to see if Whitney’s blogged anything new today…” Bam! Just the reminder I needed. My logo isn’t what needs work (ok my logo needs a little work) *I* need work. Inside out. I need to figure out who I am at my core. Authentically. The rest will follow.
Thank you again and again!
I adore this! We work with small businesses and to assist them in building their brand and a lot of times, they don’t understand that re-branding (or debranding) starts from the core structure. Businesses think it’s odd that we want to spend some time with them while they work but we get to know our clients so much better by understanding where they have been and where they want to go. Changing logos isn’t always the answer and I wish more creatives chatted about how much internal work it takes to really re-establish an already established brand.
so grateful for the profundity of your posts in recent months – this one especially included.
Whitney, thank you SO much for this post. This is my first time to really visit/read your blog and I’m in love! I am currently going through this EXACT dilemma and I think that you hit the nail on the head. I was on to the same thing. I have a start-up, a blog AND do custom illustrations. All are completely different industries styles, customers and I felt I needed really different branding for all of them AND for myself…but I realizing (and you helped me validate) that less can be more. Thank you so much and look forward to adding you to my blog roll. Thanks!
Whitney, I just came across your blog through an interview I read on emmagwillim.com with sarah tucker, who mentioned your planners, and I absolutely love your style and message. This post so resonated and relieved me. I am in the chaos of starting my own onlinemagazine and blog and of course branding and wanting it to look just right is a big thing right now. Love the idea of peeling back the layers and exposing the beauty beneath. For me that means the mountain of expectations I have built up of how this needs and should be instead of what would be a true reflection of me at this point in my life. Thank you so much.
Will certainly come back an read my way through your posts. And I just love your calendars. Did I read correctly, that you also have a blank one, that is not bound to the actual calendar year? If yes, where can I order and do you ship to Switzerland? (Sure hope so:)
Interesting read – perhaps you might like to see what Ruskin had to say on a similar theme. I so fight against the modern trend to brand. Always have.