Everybody makes branding mistakes. Business books are littered with stories of false starts and funny names that never made it beyond their initial incarnation. Ever heard of Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation, or GoldStar? How about Back Rub or Brad's Drink? Not many have. You probably recognize them today as IBM, LG, Google and Pepsi-Cola, respectively.
Renaming your business is only one element in a successful re-branding effort. For a full relaunch, you’ll need to change your brand identity across multiple online platforms, as well as possibly flip your brand’s personality and tweak your own startup story.
Unless you're planning to stick with your branding mistake, here are four ways to use social media to re-brand your business:
Pick a versatile name. A new name can offer a fresh start, but make sure it’s unique, or you’ll end up with a headache instead. You’ll want to both avoid running afoul of any trademarks and secure your new brand name across a variety of social-media platforms.
If your company’s name is Hill Country Cooking and Catering in Austin, Texas, think about how that’ll look and work online. Social media sites usually cap usernames at 15 characters, so you might want to use some abbreviation of the name instead — for instance, “HillCountryC&C.” A great website for determining available usernames across many platforms is Knowem.com.
Redefine your voice. If you’ve figured out who the new you is and where you want to be, further that message by revising or creating brand new social-media profiles. Then, carry that message across your company’s social-media channels. Set communication guidelines to help employees express those messages. By engaging potential clients and partners across these platforms, you can let people know more about your new brand, mission, culture and core values.
Solidify the change. The best way to get people used to a new brand is to get out in front of them. Be sure to tell existing customers and clients that you’ve changed to avoid confusing anyone. Then, start familiarizing them with the new you. Depending on your goals, you might consider offering current customers a discount or special deal to keep them coming back. You might also include a Q&A on your site to explain the new you and give future customers more background about your past. It's important to have a consistent voice and repeat messages to be heard above all of the "noise" in social media.
Assess your results. Make sure that you’re tracking your re-branding efforts over social media and that your employees are gathering data from customers to find out how they found your business. Keep in mind that re-branding takes time. So wait at least two to three months before deciding whether something is working.