Going through a rebrand (or any major change to your company’s branding or positioning) while readying your company to scale and grow is an emotional process, akin to sending a child off to college.
Shortly after a meeting with a potential Solve for Y client the other day, he called me with a concern that had been on his mind.
“You talked in our meeting about your experience with your own rebrand at Six-Point. You said that you trusted your team and were willing to accept whatever creative they gave you. I thought that was great, but I am not sure we are ready to do that. We’ve always had a collaborative approach to our brand.” It was such a thoughtful and honest comment, it caught me off-guard.
It also made me reflect on the emotional ask that Six-Point makes of its clients. It is not a small one.
Sending your brand through Solve for Y, (our brand development program for growth-oriented “second stage” entrepreneurs) is somewhat akin to sending your child off to college. You know that they will potentially be very different when they come back to you. New clothes. New friends. Lots of new experiences. And all you can do is hope that you laid the right foundation and values in them, and that the professors and staff will be responsible for your child and cultivate what is best in them. And, although I am a long way from sending my toddler to college, I can already anticipate the pain and tears that day will hold. After all, who else would love him and care for him the way we do?
I certainly felt that way when the partners of Six-Point decided to “eat our own cooking” and ask our internal team to rebrand our company to test and hone our Solve for Y program — without our help. We would be interviewed, make our strategy and vision clear, but we wouldn’t do the work. Our team would wait and see what came back to us.
Now, just to be clear, there was no way I was going to just “take whatever was given to us.” I have a toddler now, but Six-Point is my first born. I am fiercely protective of the company and our brand, and if I didn’t like what was presented, we would be going back to the drawing board — or, like any good entrepreneur, I was prepared to roll up my sleeves and do it myself. Because, as a business owner, I can do anything; that’s my job, right?
That said, doing it myself would have been a horrible mistake. I never would have envisioned a brand like the one our creative director and the rest of the team put forward for us. Their creative talent simply dwarfs my own. Their ability to step back from my vision and show me what it would look and feel like if it came to life and stepped off the pages of my strategic plan moved me to tears.
I would never have been so bold or ambitious. I would have cut short the thinking or exploration.
“That’s good enough” is a phrase I would have said in order to have something in my hands, instead of the rounds and rounds of brainstorming they did to come up with most elegant — and effective — possible solutions to our brand challenges.
Did I love it all? Well, mostly… but I had some tough questions. It turns out they could answer them all with strong rationale. They had dwelled in the details of the brand for much longer than I had. While I might not have solved the problem the same way, their solutions were valid, thoughtful, and … if I am honest with myself, they were better than my first thoughts.
I also had some insights. But instead of saying “why didn’t you think of this,” I tried to remain in a yes, and mindset. Yes, you could do that and we could also add this feature. Yes, that language is fresh and it could also be more relevant to our target audience this way. Instead of being a downer, I was part of the new creative energy that was taking hold of our brand, a co-creator with something valuable to add.
So, bringing me back to my conversation with a prospect and the metaphor I started with…
- You don’t need to be ready to accept what is given to you. I would never let my son be mistreated at college and just accept it. If he was miserable, I would go and rescue him. If his friends were asking him to act outside of the values I instilled in him, we would be having some long serious talks about why that is not acceptable. That said, be prepared to let your own brand, your own people, your own company surprise you. New experiences and new perspectives are part of growing up. They make us richer, more resilient, and allow us to grow and flourish in new and exciting ways.
- And most of all, be a proud parent. Take all the credit. Your company and your brand reflects your DNA. It wouldn’t be what it is without its roots, its values. At the end of Solve for Y, that is what should come through more than anything else. Underneath the new clothes, the new hair style, the fancy new vocabulary, you should still be able to clearly recognize the eyes and the smile of the brand you created and nurtured.
Letting go is tough. It is. But the rewards are real.