At some point in the life of your business, you’re going to experience it: The Rut. Often, it’s merely a sign you’ve reached a point in your venture where growth is stagnant. For creatives, the rut might be personal: losing that passion you once held for the aesthetic beauty that is your business.
Thankfully, you have options. Whether you want to reinvent, refresh, or redefine your company’s strategic direction, small shifts can result in seismic change.
Spotting the Rut
Sometimes it’s not easy to recognize that you’re in a rut. There are some telltale signs: your motivation wanes and the passion project that used to excite you has become a bit of a burden. Perhaps sales are stagnant, so you’re not where you need to be financially in order to make your side hustle your primary occupation.
But the truth of the rut comes from some objective statistics. According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration, half of new businesses survive past five years, one-third past 10 years. What you are feeling, therefore, might be a very real need to remain dynamic in the market so you can stay in the game for the long term.
For many people, it does largely comes down to this kind of intuition. If your intuition is telling you the company is in a lull, it probably is. Potential clients will soon notice this underlying tension, which means reinvigoration is a professional and personal necessity.
Changing Your Mindset
An easy way to start thinking differently about your business is to see it in a new way. Switching up your office space, taking a walk, or modifying your routine can help you break out of old habits. That way, you can see your brand with fresh eyes, just as a new customer would. Even musing about your brand during times of sleepiness can help — really!
Why does this work? Science has some interesting insight. Psychology professor Cindi May wrote in Scientific American that people tend to think outside of the box and consider a broader range of ideas during times when they are less focused and more susceptible to distraction.
With a new perspective, you can face what seems stale about your business’s aesthetic, or what could use a pick-me-up: whether it is in service offerings or the branding of offline and online materials.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this alone! Talk to a colleague or mentor to get an honest assessment, or link up with a design firm to gain insight into new possibilities for the look and feel of your business.
Making Creative Changes
Shifting focus and seeking input help you to see when you need new creative energy in the business. Translating that desire into specific action means revisiting the elevator pitch for your company and partnering with the right people to make that pitch a reality.
Remember What You Stand for
It’s not unusual for busy entrepreneurs to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of keeping the company alive, and lose sight of why they started it to begin with.
This motivation is what you want to stand for, and it should come through in your branding. It may turn out that what you think you stand for is not what customers see in your business.
Try pitching your business to a new person, not by running down a list of your services, but how you make clients feel. Tell a story to a friend about your ideal client and the experience she has when engaged with your brand.
Once you begin to refocus on this ideal client, you’ll have a better sense of what changes you need to implement in order to reach her.
Focus on the Brand Story
All great global brands have a history. Your company is no different; your story is just still unfolding. At the core of every business is its origin story. That encapsulates what makes the business unique and personal to the entrepreneur.
Even when branding changes, successful companies keep a thread of their core story on display. Take this as a source of comfort and pride: When you decide to reinvigorate your brand, you do not have to abandon what has already led you to success. Rather, you can keep it as a source of pride to see how far you’ve come.
Decide What’s Needed
Before you start looking at mood boards, color swatches, and font options, it’s key to determine what’s underneath the creative changes. Ask yourself what you want to signal to your clients: Is this a mere refresh, or does it signal fundamental updates on how you do business?
For some, giving an updated look to established branding is enough to bring a little life back into the business. It can give you an added burst of motivation while ensuring you retain your established presence in the market.
Perhaps you’re considering more in-depth changes. As part of moving out of your rut, you want to update some of your service offerings, for example. Your branding should reflect this, by removing any elements of the old material that are no longer relevant and adding what’s new.
Maybe you remember the old Starbucks cups used to include the word “coffee.” That changed in 2011, when the company wanted to move beyond that single beverage offering. By changing the logo, they also asked customers to make a new association with their brand.
As you’re planning a brand reinvigoration, ask yourself: What association do you want your clients, present and future, to have with your logo? The answer can in many ways guide you and your design partners in your next creative direction.
Partnering With the Right Professionals
Your business is more than a way to generate income — it’s the fulfillment of your creative drive. When it’s time to reinvigorate the face of your company, it’s important to keep you at the center. Partner with a design firm that wants to find the right look to represent you. Talk to Oda Creative to see what we can do.
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