Building a brand is no easy feat. It takes years for the public to recognize and remember one. So when it comes to rebranding – or starting a whole new brand – you’ll want to think long and hard about that image you want to portray in the long term. You’ve probably heard the phrase “branding is much more than just a logo” – and it’s true.
When I started Middle Child Marketing in 2008, I didn’t think at all about what my brand represented. It turned out that the concept of the middle child was a great metaphor for marketing. For three years I lived this identity comfortably, but it always took some work to explain what a Publicist did, or that I didn’t do marketing for children. My company name was always a good conversation starter at networking events, so at the very least, it was catchy.
In 2009 I attended a branding seminar and I learned that what my brand was missing were the values that it represented and how I stood out from other Publicists. The speaker explained that every big corporation had started with a name, but more importantly, the values it stood for. What would it look like if it were a person? An animal? What does it smell or sound like? The logo, employee policies, retail atmosphere, website personality…everything follows after these founding values and principles. It was only then that I made a brand pyramid and started to narrow down the niche markets I wanted to service. (There are lots of resources online on how to make a brand pyramid.)
In 2011 I redid my existing logo and also went through an interesting personal journey. Two years earlier at a business conference, I thought to myself, “I wish I could do more good PR campaigns.” I wrote out a new mission statement on my iPhone, then deleted it a few months later. In the Fall of 2011, as if returning full circle, the name for a new brand popped into my head: Conscious PR. I debated with myself about whether or not I should rebrand. I thought of all the big corporations like Coca Cola and Procter and Gamble that have product lines underneath it, and I figured that I would launch Conscious PR as a brand of Middle Child Marketing Inc. Once I had made that decision, the creation process came fairly naturally. I worked with my graphic designer to craft a logo that fit what the new brand represented.
In the logo’s sphere, the red in the centre represents the loving spark that we all have when we’ve got an inspiring idea. The concentric colours are the layers of storytelling that the spark travels through, to reach the public – represented in the mint green. I deliberately stayed away from hokey images of planets, trees, leaves, or water, because I wanted to attract a broad range of clients, not just environmentalists. The copy on my website is very transparent, almost soul-bearing. It feels very naked compared to other Marketing or PR sites that you’ll come across, but that’s the point.
Creating Conscious PR as a brand – and not a company – is a bit tricky. I don’t want to mislead people into thinking it is a company, and hope that the messaging is genuine enough and shows that I care about the work I want to accomplish with clients. After investing a few thousand dollars, it’s quite possible that I’ll get no additional clients from the new brand. But there is also the possibility that I’ll get many more down the road that eventually I will want to change my company name. My next step is to trademark so that I can continue to use the name in either situation.
Since it has only been launched recently, I don’t have any sales numbers yet on how Conscious PR has improved business. Before the design phase started though, I had huge support from colleagues, family, friends, and past clients that this was the right time and place to enter this market. The biggest reward is knowing that I’ve created something that accurately represents the passion I have for my work and what motivates me.
Three tips on starting a new brand or entering the rebrand phase:
- Speak with a branding expert, especially if you don’t have a marketing background. Sometimes it helps even if you are in this field, as we can sometimes be too close to our work to see what others see. If you are undergoing a company name change, consult with professionals like lawyers and accountants to see what that will entail.
- Be super clear on the values your brand represents. It all starts from here. Create a brand pyramid so that everyone involved in the process – including designers – is clear on what you are trying to convey.
- Live out your brand. From your photos, to tweets and Facebook posts, to e-mail signatures, and how you interact with strangers, ensure you are exuding your brand essence at all times. If not, the cracks will show. Then the process must start all over again.
Sandra Garcia is an entrepreneur who recently 'rebranded' by creating Conscious PR, a subdivision of her existing company, Middle Child Marketing Inc. She was also previously featured in Entrepreneurial Woman, where she shared what it's like to be part of a business mentorship.