Find your Niche so Your Niche Can Find You

Let us be your guides as you reinvent yourself

When it comes to brand awareness, speaking clearly to your specific audience is more effective than trying to be heard and understood by everyone.

Understandably, branding exercises can fall by the wayside in favour of the work that keeps the lights on. That said, there’s a lot of time to be wasted in the internal back and forth that occurs when the vision for the future isn’t clearly aligned upon.

In the interest of owning our value as a women-led creative studio, we took on a rebrand ourselves this year to more clearly communicate our value to our best-fit clients. Two things became abundantly clear as value we bring to the table. 

First, we’re a team of women led by women. We lead with radical empathy that produces uniquely resonant work. We listen, we’re intuitive, and we’re confident without letting ego get in the way. 

Second, we like to have fun: both on and off the clock. Our wealth of experience in craft alcohol and cannabis, combined with our unique team dynamic, is a unique and powerful offering to companies marketing adult fun. If this is you, we won’t mind if you take a break from reading this blog to view our portfolio or reach out to our Account Director. 

Absolutely shameless self-promo aside (hey, you came to our website!), we’ve learned a lot through this process. If you’re considering rebranding, narrowing or pivoting your area of focus, we’d love to be your guides as you reinvent yourself.

Look before you leap.

Let’s get real. It’s very easy for a rebranding exercise to turn into a lofty thought experiment unless there are strong parameters guiding the process. Before you’re too far down the path, you might begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What problem does the rebrand solve? 
    How will you measure the success of your solution?
  • What are you already doing successfully? 
    What kind of work do you love doing?
    Who do you love working with? 
    What are your team’s unique super powers?

Once you’ve got an idea of the answers to these questions, you can fact check them with people you know and trust, and vice versa.

Get in touch with your network (and reality).        

Now that you’ve answered some pre-departure questions, it’s time to check if the answers are true and/or helpful to your mission. The cool thing about a re-brand is that the exercise isn’t theoretical, it actually serves to describe the reality of the work you’re already doing. In other words, you have people, both internal and external, who can offer valuable insights on how your brand functions.

  • Stay open minded about what constitutes a stakeholder
    The people who execute and represent your brand every day might exist outside of the scope of marketing, maybe in sales or product development for example. There may be pain points in their day-to-day life that can be helped by updating client-facing brand elements.
  • Engage with trusted peers and clients
    This could be someone who works with you already, has in the past or has collaborated with your team. Does your vision of your brand align with their experiences?
  • Seek feedback outside of your echo chamber
    Expertise is great, but it’s worth getting eyes on it that are outside your close network or industry. They’re more able to catch aspects that are confusing, Plus, explaining the brand to them is a good exercise: if you can’t describe it in a sentence, it’s probably not working.

Put your heads together.   

Congrats, you made it to the fun part: dreaming up your new brand. This is also the part that has the most potential to spin out of control, create strife and bloat your timelines. Here are some other baseline considerations for getting the most fruitful brainstorms.

  • Name, and honour, the process
    There are lots of different takes on what the best brainstorm process is, but most important is to clearly communicate to your brain stormers what the process is, and make sure you stick with it. Establish early on what “rounds” of brainstorming will entail, how ideas will be considered, and who (if anyone) has final say. This helps the process stay feeling “fair” and make sure it doesn’t last forever.
  • Get inspired 
    Get contributors to come equipped with brands they love, and maybe even some they hate. These don’t have to all be exact translations of your industry; casting a wide net at first can help spark out-of-the-box thinking! 
  • Facilitate low-barrier contributions
    In free-form discussions like these, the most outspoken tend to fill the silence, whereas quieter people might fall back. Find a mechanism for your team to contribute that doesn’t rely on people speaking up on a crowded Zoom call. Platforms like FigJam and Miro can help (but set aside a few minutes to familiarize your team with the UX first). 
  • Do your due diligence
    Before you fall in love with any potential new names, taglines or social media handles, be sure to do your research. Ensure they are SEO friendly and don’t yield any undesirable web or image search results. Get some reassurance that you’re not inadvertently replicating someone else’s idea before you get it printed on a T shirt. To be extra safe, hiring a trademark attorney can save you some heartache and give you confidence you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes.
  • Call in reinforcements
    An objective third party partner like, say, BOLD LIP, for example, can help you establish the process, kill your darlings (read: help you lovingly let go of that idea you’re obsessed with but doesn’t really work) and make sure you stay on track.

Cross your t’s and dot your i’s.

Okay, so you’ve solidified your brand’s name, visual identity, and tone of voice. Now to remember all the places where your old branding is featured, and ensure consistency across all the extensions of your brand’s functioning.

  • Update all your touchpoints
    Beyond the obvious external brand elements of your brand, there are lots of other little things that end up in front of your clients.
    This includes, but is not limited to:
    - Website URLs
    - Email addresses 
    - Cloud file storage
    - File naming conventions
    - Invoicing 
    - Signage 
    - Subscriptions 
    - Merchandise 
    - Social media bios and icons
  • Make sure you can be found
    You’ve spent valuable time finding your brand and audience. Now it’s time to make sure your audience can find your brand.
    - Check on your website’s SEO health and make the necessary copy updates.
    - Update your Google adwords and Google Marketplace as needed.

To remember:  

Anyone who has ever gotten impulse bangs knows, it’s both exciting and scary to change your appearance and identity. If you feel yourself getting cold feet, or second guessing the moves you’re making, remind yourself of the following.

  • You can’t be everything to everyone
    And you don’t want to be. It’s okay to want to do work that excites you with people that you admire. The only way to do that is to streamline your offering, and claim your space confidently.
  • Keep the faith
    It’s easy to catastrophize. If you pursue this new identity, what if the work dries up? What if you’re laughed out of town and die penniless and alone? That’s almost certainly not going to happen. Trust in the strength of your work and your network.
  • Pay yourself first
    Time is money. It’s really tempting to let this self-contained process fall by the wayside. Set internal deadlines, even if they’re made up, and hold yourselves accountable to evolving as a brand together. 

BOLD LIP has a wealth of experience building brands that stand out and make sense. We’ve all worked as both brand builders and as the people who bring them to life day-to-day. Get in touch so we can help co-create the best version of your brand.

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