April 18, 2023
As our businesses grow, so do our brands. But that doesn’t mean we all need to dive head-first into a rebrand any time things change a little bit or we start to think of new ideas.
Making big changes to a business like that could end up doing more harm than good. Sometimes only a simple refresh is needed.
But what about when your business has grown in a way that seems like it’s totally different from the original spirit of your brand? A rebrand or a refresh won’t do — that’s like putting a little wrapping tape on a leaky pipe. It won’t hold for long.
What if that new offer you’ve dreamed up doesn’t quite serve your audience? What if you want to add a whole new line or products to your service-based brand? And what if you’re realizing your “ideal client” or offer isn’t so ideal, after all?
This is when it’s important to zoom out to get a bird’s eye view (or maybe even an astronaut’s view) of your brands… and really take a look at what’s changing.
This is also where it’s valuable to understand the difference between a rebrand, sub-branding, and sister brands!
Think of your brand like a solar system: Within your offers, what’s the sun? What are the planets? What are the moons?
Basically, you can think of the sun as your existing business. Because no matter what you decide to do with it, that business, its values, and all of the history within it serve as the baseline for everything else.
Your brand, and all of the touchpoints we mentioned above (design, copy, values, customer service), are the planets. They’re the “anchors” that hold your biz down, and give it life.
Now, let’s zoom out even further. Let’s think of your brand like the universe.
While they may not be part of the core solar system (the pieces that revolve around each other all the time), you may have other elements in your universe that expand your brand.
You might add in events, physical locations, artwork or digital downloads, courses, books, partnerships, non-profits, and so on.
When your business “universe” starts to expand (like any good universe is wont to do), it’s important to figure out which pieces are part of the current solar system — and which ones might need their own.
Every single brand — whether it’s a sister brand, sub-brand, or a rebrand — has two things in common.
First, they have a client persona. This is the person you are talking to (your client) and how they are feeling (why they would need your services). Some people also call this a client avatar or ideal customer avatar. You’re basically just getting a feel for the person you want to help and what they’re experiencing.
Second, every brand has keywords (or at least, they should!). What kinds of things do you want your client persona to feel when working with you? What words come to mind when thinking about your brand?
Here’s an example of how these elements work together:
Note how the brand keywords and brand persona aren’t really attached to a specific offer. This means your brand isn’t just what you provide in services or products.
It’s ANYTHING that allows you to meet your ideal client where they are and make them feel your brand keywords… which opens up your brand to a whole galaxy of opportunities and different businesses.
To figure out how to organize your brand and create a cohesive brand experience, you’ll need to know when to build up your existing solar system, and when it’s time to head for the stars and build something new.
(Again, your brand is the universe, and each sub-brand or sister brand is the solar systems or galaxies within that universe.)
Sub-brands usually exist in the same industry, serve the same need, address the same client persona, and have the same keywords as the parent brand. Think of sub-brands like a new offer you want to stand out, like a retreat or new course. They still serve your main audience and have the same overall feel, but you want them to have their own distinct personality.
Sister brands, on the other hand, usually exist in a different industry and serve a different need. They will still have the same client persona and keywords as your existing brand. A great example of this is when a service provider, like a copywriter, creates a copy template shop.
A rebrand is often needed when nothing aligns anymore — your industry, need, client persona, and brand keywords no longer connect with what you’re doing. We see this often when someone realizes they’re working with a new level of client, and their current offers, branding, etc. speak to people they no longer want to attract. Ex: Services that have become more high-end and luxurious, or going from more generic service offerings to something specific (graphic design to web design, copywriting to launch copywriting, for example).
Of course, branding is highly visual, so let’s take a look at a few client examples to really drive this idea home.
The Glory Days Co. originally only offered physical planners. But in recent years, they’ve expanded their shop to include apparel like t-shirts, totes, and water bottles, plus planner add-ons and note pads for therapy, doctor’s appointments, and medications!
Then, they expanded into wholesale, which meant we needed to design booths and all the marketing collateral that comes with them. This included catalogs, invitations, thank you cards, and wall decorations for the booth.
These are a few extensions of the brand that act as “sub-brands.” They’re part of the parent company but have a few unique elements and are “standalone” offers to the core one.
Then, there’s also the Glory Days Foundation, which is a sister brand/non-profit arm. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that works with hospitals and therapists that serve the special needs community to donate planners to parents who need them. The industry has changed (healthcare vs. families) , as well as the client persona (professionals vs. families).
Amber’s main offer is marketing and business coaching. Each month, she sends inspiring life and business tools to the members of her Blooming Business Inner Circle. This is one of her main brand’s primary offers and is treated like a subbrand.
Another primary offer that we’ve sub-branded? Amber’s Bloom & Grow Live, an annual marketing event and workshopping retreat for business owners. Yes, it’s part of the Amber Housley brand, but the sub-branding here helps people know that this is a special event and offer!
Tobi Fairley runs an interior design company, but we’re also in the process of creating a retail arm for her called Fairley Fancy. This would be classified as a sister brand since they both serve similar clients and have the same brand keywords, but exist in another industry and serve a different need.
Together with some of my favorite people, Rendezvous Creative serves as a one-stop shop for brand strategy. This includes design, copy and content, values, customer experience…the whole enchilada.
While the Design Lab plays a role in Rendezvous Creative, it’s something completely set apart from us. We serve different client personas, have totally different brand keywords, and serve different needs. . Our clients need design work, and so do Rendezvous clients, but the difference is that each client gets holistic brand development + execution, rather than branding alone. So, we’d call this a sister brand!
If you want to learn more about Rendezvous, and all the fun things we’re going to be helping out with, check out this blog here!
What’s on the (event) horizon for your business?
To boil it down, it helps to consider four questions when determining your next steps (at least, in terms of branding):
The key is to hone in on your ideas, understand what makes them different from where your brand stands now, and then rearrange your business “universe.”
Remember, you created this thing! You can play with it — and create whole new worlds!
If you want help creating a new brand, sub-brand, or sister brand, we’d love to help. Let’s hop on a call soon.