The Story Economy Blog

Yep, Go Ahead and "Auf" It!

If you watch Project Runway, you’ve heard Heidi Klum say it many times: One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out. To the one who is out, she offers her signature farewell: auf wiedersehen. Every week, she and her fellow judges go through a brutal process of “aufing” one more talented fashion designer.

There’s a lesson here for business owners: sometimes, you have to “auf” your own brand, even though doing is anguishing. One day, your brand is “in” (it feels like it’s working for you), and the next, it’s “out” (it doesn’t fit anymore). It’s nothing to do with trends, and everything to do with how your company has evolved.

I rebranded earlier this year (the brilliant Claudia Sandman of Oomph Design created my new look, logo, and web site). Before my rebrand, I had two separate sites (plus collateral) for the different areas of my business. Both felt very “me” for a long time, and saying goodbye was painful. Of course, my 3-year-old saw it as an opportunity for creativity (this is one of the “quilts” he made using my old postcards)!

Something can be the absolute right thing for a while, and then suddenly, it’s not the right thing anymore. I say “suddenly,” because that’s how it strikes you. But in fact, it slowly stops becoming right; it just takes the right moment for the realization to hit.

Running a business is a little bit like going to therapy. You get a lot of these “aha” moments about yourself, but they come in pieces. It takes work to put them all together and add up to action. When you’re working in your business, you’re always getting insights about your business, about what you love to do (or hate to do), what you excel at, what surprises you, or what motivates you. Every so often, you have to take time to bundle them all up and hit “refresh.” But it’s not enough to just change your approach: you need to also change the message—in other words, your brand. Otherwise, everything is all out of whack. You can have the sparkling clarity of a diamond in your head (or heart) about your business, why you do it, and how you do it. But if your brand identity (like your logo, colors, and copy) predate that diamond shot of clarity, you’ve got a business with multiple personality disorder.

So, rebranding is an investment. And it involves a bittersweet goodbye. But when your message reflects your new clarity, you’re unstoppable. You no longer have to explain the things that feel inconsistent (“well, I’ve been focusing on this lately, but my business started as this, and that’s what my site is about, so it may not be that helpful for you right now . . .”), or worry that your message is confusing. Everything just . . . fits. It’s a huge relief, and it allows you to revel in your clarity (and sell a bunch more stuff).

Go ahead, “auf” that brand of yours that’s not working anymore, Heidi Klum-style—with a kiss on the check and a sweet wave bye-bye.

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