Wearing a different hat

This year’s New Year’s Eve found me at a Carmel Mountain party.

The 41-degree night and the possibility of rain persuaded me to replace my regular panama hat with a chapeau better suited to protecting me from the elements.

Out came my blue wool fedora. Though similar to my traditional headgear, my winter hat projects a decidedly different attitude.

That’s what caused the riot.

Entering a room full of old friends, I was immediately accosted by cries of dismay and a need to explain my change of attire. Everyone’s familiar with the Panama hat, and anything else is unexpected…and therefore wrong.

It’s kind of like the turmoil that occurred for a few weeks last year when IHOP tested being IHOB. One would have thought the world was ending.

Regular readers know I’ve worn a Panama hat since 1993. Given the choice between the hat and spray paint for covering my bald spot, I’ve always opted for the hat.

Many people, including my family members, don’t recognize me without it.

So while I wasn’t surprised at these partygoers’ reactions, It again reminded me not to mess with my brand.

Your brand (name, logo, colors, font, image, etc.) is potentially one of the most valuable assets your company owns. Messing with it by changing taglines, logos, and the rest can be risky.

Sometimes it’s worth the risk, like when Aunt Jemima’s image was modernized. And if you have a well-considered strategy and the resources to properly implement the change, it can work to your advantage.

And, being the beginning of the year, you may be tempted to jumpstart your business with a fresh image. If you’ve merged with another firm, expanded your product line, moved, grown significantly, or have another major business milestone you’re calling attention to, then by all means rebrand your business. But give it the time, resources, and respect such a major overhaul needs and deserves.

However, if you’re going to just be haphazard, spontaneous, and refuse to carefully think out or support your new image…including the time and money needed to educate your universe that you’re still going to deliver the same great products, services, prices, convenience, etc., then don’t even start down that road.

Because if you do, folks will surely say “Who are you again?”

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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Brand your business better at www.marketbuilding.com.