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REBRANDING COULD KILL YOU: A cautionary tale (Part 1)

Rebranding is a  B I T C H.

Let me rephrase that. Rebranding can be a bitch.

Before I get into all of the how’s and why’s — let me take you back, wayyyyy back — to summer 2016. My business was nearing 3 years old, our website had seen MULTIPLE iterations as Your Hot Copy had evolved TONS since its inception, and I was anxious for our BRAND to ACTUALLY reflect our team and the work we were doing with clients.

Actually – PAUSE. Let’s go further back in time… back to YHC’s first ever website.

>>> HOW CUTE DID I THINK I WAS WITH THIS HEADER?

Huge thanks and big-ups to Bluchic for making easy-to-customize WordPress themes.

BONUS shout-out to all the women in tech who have the brains and expertise to create amazing products like these!!!

Yeah, it’s no secret that my very first website was self-made. Thank f*ck for my professional and educational background in film producing (#business #marketing #packaging). I credit my brand’s initial success to knowing a whole shit ton about the content creation business (a.k.a. the entertainment industry) – not to mention my own personal zone of genius (creative direction) and a penchant for attention-grabbing sass and creativity.

AFTER ALL, BRANDING IS ABOUT MAKING A SPLASH.

Spoiler: It’s about more than that, but when you’re in the business of helping other people stand out, attract clients, and turn website visitors into raving fans and customers, your website better do that job for YOU too, boo.

CONFESSION: My first photo shoot was a favor from a friend. I paid zero dollars, but I knew exactly what I wanted. I’ve stretched the results through nearly 4 years of business.

Once I had sexy, creative, fun photos, my first official hire was the lovely and talented Bec Feldman who created our first logo. It was everything I wanted. Simple, crisp, feminine, and fun.

Next, I needed help turning my crazy ideas into a more colorful BRAND. Enter: Kacie Erickson.

I hired Kacie to create a series of graphics that I loaded into my site myself. *Dusts shoulders off.* See, I HAD the vision, but I needed another smart, fun, highly creative lady to help elevate and execute what I was going for: urban, fun, energetic, and sassy.

Kacie nailed it.

But 1 year later, this branding (photos, design, and copy *self-written, of course) stopped communicating the truth of YHC.

Erin had joined the team, and we were working in tandem. I started training and working with a handful of other writers too to keep the copy FRESH.  So we updated AGAIN with new photos, new copy, and brought Kacie’s genius brain back for a refresh.

I loved what Kacie did. It took us a few rounds to really NAIL this with back and forth collaboration, but that’s the beauty of co-creation.

Notice the detail of it looking like we spray painted over the old header. It was GENIUS. These are small things that a casual (or new) site visitor would never notice, but I knew it was there. And tiny details like that are what tell the story of your brand and business, whether your audience is consciously aware of the impact it’s having on them or not. DETAILS MATTER.

A lot.

Fast forward to another year later, and we had become a full agency. YHC wasn’t about ME anymore. It was about our clients, our process, our team — and I wanted a fresh look that said just that. So thankfully Kristen Ashton of stillpixels swooped in for the rescue.

Your Hot Copy Agency - For words that sizzle and SELL.

I LOVE WHAT SHE DID FOR US.

Back to summer sixteen

. I just couldn’t fucking take it anymore. It was starting to feel like I had outgrown the business I had created. It was as if I had built an amazing jet plane to carry me, my writers, and my clients towards our dreams — but as the impact grew, the container stayed small. We needed an Airbus A380 and instead we were still in a puddle jumper.

After all, a LOT happens in 4 years. I had grown up. The business had grown up.

The sight of pink now made me nauseated. The term “boss lady” now made me cringe in embarrassment. And a self-made website felt SO creatively limiting. It was time to get a web designer and developer on board for the full shebang — finally.

CUE: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

I decided to hire the amazingly talented team at ShiftFwd for a FULL makeover. New errythang. Colors. Fonts. Logo. Culture. Website.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Wait, it’s been almost a YEAR since you hired them… where’s the new brand?!”

And then I cackle maniacally in response and just say…

“You see, rebranding could KILL you.”

As a self-motivated self-starter, risk-taker, and visionary (also see: ENTREPRENEUR) I jumped in headfirst, confident that these two were the right team. (No weird plot twist here; they ARE.) I started collecting examples of websites I adored, photography I wanted, and ANYTHING that visually communicated the vibe and style I was going for.

But after we got started, I quickly realized that I had forgotten the FOUR most critical pieces of any creative project. And, as a storyteller and filmmaker, that part feels really embarrassing to admit. It doesn’t matter if you hire the most talented team on planet earth (or plizzanet Earth if you’re Snoop Dogg) — if you SKIP, overlook, or glaze over these FOUR key pieces… rebranding could literally fucking kill you.

I’ll tell you more about those next week…

For now, tell me what YOUR biggest fears or areas of confusion are when it comes to branding or rebranding?

xx