Your brand doesn’t feel right anymore. What now?

Headshot of Anita Stubenrauch
Anita Stubenrauch, founder, Cause:Effect Creative

What to do when who you are isn’t who you want to be.

Brands change all the time. Burger King went retro. Dunkin’ lost the Donuts. Facebook is so Meta. 

I’m all for change, but it’s risky when brand changes are reactions instead of intentions.

Reactions are driven by external, ephemeral conditions like the latest headlines or hashtags. Intentions are fueled by intrinsic values and visions. One is the result of effect, the other is cause.

I won’t dwell on BK, Dunkin’, or Zuckerberg, because, frankly, I’m less concerned for mega-corporations than solopreneurs, startups and small businesses.

Smaller brands fill much-needed niches in our work and lives, and they can make seismic shifts without three years, 30 focus groups and $300M. But the very things that make smaller brands so nimble also put them at greater risk for going adrift.

Some transformations are easy to track — for instance, bell bottoms to skinny jeans and back again. But the view from inside a turning point makes it hard to observe what’s happening around us, let alone to us. We’re preoccupied with our lives. Reacting to our worlds. Wondering what to do about dinner. When everything around us is pivoting, it creates the illusion the world is standing still.

What’s true for humans can be true for brands, too.

Small decisions lead to incremental, gradual changes. We try a few new things over time. Only after a while do we find ourselves at a great distance from where we started.

That’s great if where we find ourselves is aligned with where we want to go. But what if it’s not? If your brand has drifted so far from your values and vision that it’s become a complete departure, you can do something about it. If you’re a smaller brand, you can do it quickly.

Start by answering these questions:

1. What do you believe in—and why does it matter?

2. What are you here to do that no one else can?

3. Who do you want to connect with—and why should they care?

Questions one and two get at your values and vision — your reasons for being. Question three gets at connection — your audience and their reasons to believe. Answer declaratively and you will have a powerful tool to orient yourself, regardless of trendy twists and turns.

It’s natural to react to the world around us. At times it may even be necessary for survival. But acting from intention is always an option. Get clear about what your brand stands for and you’ll be better prepared for whatever this world throws your way. 

Anita Stubenrauch is founder of Cause:Effect Creative. 

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