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The Business of Food

by Jennifer Barney


When to rebrand
2-min read

Interact Boulder Blake Mitchell’s answer is pretty simple, “If there is more to gain from rebranding than there is to lose then do it.”  But how do you know?
What I’m going to be talking about here is transforming your main brand identity, which usually includes a new name. I’m not talking about when you update your brand with a new logo and packaging to look more current or more on-brand – that is a brand refresh. 
This rebrand to Koia from Raw Nature-5 was done by Interact Boulder:
Amazing difference, right?
With a rebrand you’re saying something material has changed about who you are as a brand and what you want to say to the world. It’s major.
Entrepreneurs with scrappy brands just want to get product in the marketplace as inexpensively and quickly as possible. Launching quick and cheap focuses on getting a logo and a label, “so we can sell some product and make some money - then we can invest in branding later”. Earn the funds to spend on branding rather than invest in branding upfront. 
This mentality assumes the launch can succeed on the product itself, which rarely works.
It can work if you’re first to market on a trend (see this post). It can also work if you have a built-in audience that knows and trusts you already, so all you have to do is put the product in front of their face. But for the vast majority of new brands in market, you’ll have to convey a real story with compelling branding from the jump. 
Some entrepreneurs wait to invest in branding because they are following the prescribed “test and learn” process. This iterative process is bible, but is often misunderstood as it relates to brand identity. It involves testing any or all of the 4 P’s(product, place, price, promotion) in small, in-market controlled experiments. 
The iterative process does not involve testing what the core identity of the brand should be.
I have heard brands say they don’t know who their brand is for but once they find out who is buying they will mold themselves after what that audience wants. Nooo. This is not how it works. 
I’m not advocating for spending big bucks out of the gate on branding. I agree with the scrappy launch method, you should be as capital efficient as possible at the beginning. But to get to the place where you even have an opportunity to rebrand you must know thyself – know what your brand stands for, who it is for, and what problem it is solving. Think beyond your product. 
So to answer the titular question: rebrand when you need to better tell your story – and when you have the funds to do so.
Next week, two case studies exemplifying when to move away from a product attribute name, like Keto Krisp or towards one, like Oat Haus
All my best,
Startups seeking an exit: what do you make of this? 
MicroAcquire, a startup acquisition marketplace is seeing hundreds of new buyers registering every day and an acquisition happening about every other day, according to Crunchbase.
With all the activity in Food + Ag, as differentiated as it is from SaaS, shouldn’t we have an acquisition marketplace just for us? Does this already exist or is someone building it? Seems like a natural adjacency for CircleUp who already has Helio, an algorithmic-powered predictor of early stage CPG breakout brands. 
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