From our Founder, Kasia: What I’ve learned from 10 years of running a small business – Part 3 (Rebranding a business)

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Hi! LH Agenda Founder, Kasia here. This article is Part 3 of a Q&A between the LH Agenda community and me (you can read Part 1 and Part 2 here), and all about rebranding a business. Prior to this year, our brand was known as Leaders in Heels but a desire to expand our product and customer base drove us to change our brand name and logo to LH Agenda mid-2021. I hope you find some practical takeaways in this article to help you, no matter what stage of the rebranding and/or business journey you’re at!

Q&A with Kasia

Q: As Founder, how did you decide to rebrand to LH Agenda, and how long did the rebranding process take?

A: This was a very difficult decision for me and it didn’t happen overnight.

It probably took around 3 years since I first had the thought of rebranding before I actually started to action it. It would have been much easier to leave everything as it was, and that’s what I had done for quite a long time. Early on, we invested so much time and money in growing the brand, trademarks and designs. But the thought of rebranding kept coming back to me every year and I couldn’t stop thinking about “what if”… I just knew I needed to take the risk and do it

The process of choosing a direction and brand name ended up taking around 3 months. And it took many discussions with my colleagues, friends, and mentors, and there were lots of things to consider.

Our customers had always been divided on our feminine brand name – some loved Leaders in Heels, while others were left feeling disempowered and excluded if they were not office-based leaders. Some felt the name focused too much on appearance. Our original brand name worked well for where we started, but it was time to refresh and reset our goals with a rebrand.

Our new goals focused on greater inclusivity for all females and males, today and in the future, and flexibility to one day create and market a stationery collection for teens, which is something I’d love to do. The people that are 20-something years-old now will be progressing their career and looking for leadership resources in the next 5, 10 and 20 years. And we want LH Agenda to be there for them, and make sense to their leader identities.

Q: How did you choose the new name, LH Agenda?

A: They say that the most creative ideas come to us when we are relaxed. I came up with the name LH Agenda while swimming!

Choosing a new brand name is definitely an important decision. I am definitely not an expert here, but I have chosen brand names twice now. ;) This time around, I really wanted the brand name to be:

  • Short.
  • Meaningful, with a story behind it.
  • Anti-discriminatory and suitable for teens, children and unisex products.
  • Vague enough to allow us to grow beyond a stationery brand long-term.
  • Easy to write, spell and say (especially with my Polish accent).
  • Available as a .com domain and Facebook and Instagram handles.

We kept the letters LH – to honour our company origins and remind us of the ongoing Leaders in Heels values. ‘Agenda’ is the plural of the Latin word ‘agendum’, which literally means ‘something to be done’. I also love that the word ‘Agenda’ has multiple meanings that are all very relevant to our business. Some of these meanings include; a list or plan of things to be done, a list of matters to be discussed at a meeting, or even an appointment diary. (We love this because our best-selling products are our planners and meeting notebooks).

I wanted to make sure the brand name DIDN’T have a direct meaning, such as LH Stationery or LH Leaders. This is so that, if we ever end up changing our business products or direction, the brand name can evolve and grow with us. That is probably my biggest tip to others thinking about rebranding: choose a name that signifies who your brand is, but also keeps your options open for growth.

“My biggest tip to others thinking about rebranding: choose a name that signifies who your brand is, but also keeps your options open for growth.”

Q: How did your community feel about your rebranding? How do they feel now that it’s all out?

A: I have received lots of messages from people who thought we did an excellent job in communicating the rebrand. However, when we first communicated our decision to change the name it really ruffled some feathers! It created lots of questions and confusion.

Some people thought we were closing down. Some told us they loved the femininity of Leaders in Heels name and they thought that the name didn’t have to change to bring inclusivity. Some said they were sorry to see us make the change ‘just for men’ because they thought the scales were already tipped so heavily in men’s favor. I think they missed the point that including men was the least priority of our reasons for the change. The main reason was to be more inclusive to all women.

What we learned from the experience is the necessity to regularly communicate with your customer community throughout the rebranding process, and to prepare for rebrand feedback.

Don’t presume that your customers will see your first and only message about rebranding – send them reminders and answer their questions along the way. We even had to think about what business name our subscribers would see in their emails, so we kept the ‘From’ field as ‘LH Agenda (prev. Leaders in Heels)’ for a couple of months. You could try something similar.

The truth is, there will always be people who criticise your decisions, both in business and in life. People often resist change and like to tell themselves that the business model that worked yesterday will continue to work indefinitely. But as CEO, my job is to be the business visionary and look ahead to our future. My decision to write an exciting new chapter for my business was on purpose and driven by heart.

When I owned that, and stepped into the comfort of my decision, I started to get a bunch of support from the LH Agenda community members too. Our loyal community understood that we weren’t going away, and that we would always remain committed to empowering women – now and in the future. Now that ‘powerful women’ aren’t mentioned directly through our brand name, we are careful to keep mentioning it indirectly in our website content, packaging, and product design.

Q: Any tips for someone looking at rebranding?

A: Changing a brand name is a big, big job. Our rebranding meant that we had to change the website URL, all social media handles, all previously published documents such as ebooks or downloadable freebies, all contact forms settings, all welcome email sequences to our members, wholesale registrations, ATO, ASIC, car registrations, insurances… EVERYTHING had to be changed.

As I mentioned previously, make sure to communicate your plans to rebrand with people ahead of time. The worst thing you can do here is surprise people. Imagine… they go to bed one night knowing you as one business and then they wake up the next day to an email from you under a completely different business name. That doesn’t do great things for brand trust!

Communicate with people, get their buy-in and answer all questions and concerns before the actual rebrand. Also, don’t change everything at once – make any rebranding transition progressive. Take a look at the photos below, showing how our brand refreshers spanning 10 years lead to this seamless new brand look (despite our rebrand, our logo didn’t have to change much in 2021). Our values have also remained constant with every brand change.

I’ve created a Rebranding Checklist for you to use below.

Rebranding Checklist

  • Choose a name (with room to grow).
  • Secure the domain.
  • Communicate with customers, stakeholders, affiliates, etc. throughout the process.
  • Do a stocktake of all marketing you have out there with your old brand – billboards, digital advertising, recurring magazine advertising campaigns, etc. – and update.
  • Update social accounts – change over account names, establish consistent branding, etc.
  • Update emails – design, logos, in-text references, links to social accounts, ‘From’ field, etc.

Rebranding to LH Agenda hasn’t been our first refresh. If you know us from the early days, you might remember this first logo from 2011. I created it using a special shoe font. Our tagline was ‘Only Women’s Business’. It was really basic and hmm….. not really my taste today. :)

 

Here you can see our second logo – a little bit sleeker.

Our third logo: by the time we launched products the brand needed a refresh, and to look more sophisticated on products.

 

Third logo as seen on products.

 

Our fourth logo: a brand name change and further logo refinement.

 

Current logo: this is the entry to my office right now.

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Rebranding a business takes bravery, and many brands would rather stick to the status quo. If LH Agenda is anything to go by, the rebranding process can take months, if not years, and involve various steps and important decisions to make. It’s important to communicate with your customers throughout and keep an open mind, but don’t be afraid to stick to your guns and your vision.

That’s a wrap on our special birthday Q&A! Remember, you can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 here on our website, and can leave any further questions you have for me as a business founder in the comments section below.

Be inspired,

Kasia


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