Seven lessons I learned rebranding my business

Seven lessons I learned rebranding my business


Like a lot of start-ups, Traffika started life in my spare bedroom. At the time I didn’t have a lot of money (actually zero) to invest in our branding.

Our logo was created late at night with a mate who was a designer and a bottle of red wine. Not a lot of thought went into our initial ‘brand strategy’, we just wanted a logo that looked cool and made it obvious to our potential customers what we did.

As a digital agency, living largely in a direct response marketing world, branding is often an overlooked and misunderstood asset.

However, as our business grew, and we were attracting more and more large corporate clients, the need to change our branding became apparent.

In April 2012 I made the decision to rebrand Traffika.

Initially I thought the process would take around two months, but as I soon found out, changing the wheels on a moving bus is a lot harder than it looks!

The process ended up taking five months and I learned some great lessons along the way.

Here are the top seven lessons I learned:

1. As the Founder there is a surprising amount of information locked away in your head

Our business isn’t huge, only 30 in our team. We work in open plan offices and have team meetings regularly. The first real eye opener for me was that no one in our team could give the same description as me to who we are and what we do. This is something I thought I had communicated clearly and consistently – clearly not!

So began the journey of ‘unpacking my head’ of all the details; our purpose, our vision, and the thousands of little details that swell around in your head about ‘who we really are’, ‘what makes us different’, and why clients should choose us over all of our competitors.

You can’t delegate this, and it takes time.

2. Take your team on the journey

Having our team involved in the discovery process and brainstorming sessions was super valuable.

Not only did they provide a different context and great ideas to our brand, it also got them to buy-in right at the start.

3. Simplifying the details is the hardest thing

Our business is complex, really complex.

There are lots of parts that need to work together. Plus, our industry changes rapidly, we don’t control our environment, its technical, its creative, its analytical, we need to work with lots of stakeholders and partners, and we are at the mercy of platforms like Google and Facebook.

Taking all this complexity and distilling it down into a single brand proposition that is easily understandable to a range of different audiences was tough.

4. There is an enormous amount of work involved in the detail

The irony of simplifying things is you have to obsess about the details.

Details such as every word in your copy, each colour choice in your colour pallet, the stock you use for your printing, business cards, your website, social media, emails, phone scripts, voice mail, proposals, reports, office décor, the dress code of your team… and the list goes on.

All of these have to be selected with strategic intent and come together to create the perfect mix.

5. A brand is a set of behaviours, not a logo

We could not have completed the rebrand on our own, and we selected a great brand strategist to help us.

The piece of advice he gave us that resonated the most with me is that your logo is just decoration, and its your behaviour (you as the founder and everyone in your team) that defines your brand.

This behaviour needs to be consistent and reinforced on a daily basis.

6. Your clients won’t be as excited by your shiny new brand as you and your team

After five long months of planning and hard work we were finally ready to launch and give our new baby wings.

We were so excited! We sent teaser emails and snail mail to get our clients excited with us.

While we got some polite and nice compliments, overall our existing clients just didn’t get excited. After all, they are our clients because they already see value in what we do… and besides they are so busy keeping their own businesses running.

What did surprise me was that potential clients that we had never met before were more enthusiastic about our brand. That was a good sign that we had got it right!

7. A good brand is like your favourite pair of jeans – the more you wear them the better it fits and feels

It’s been five months since our new brand launched and I have say, I love it.

The more we ‘wear’ our new identity and live up to the promise our brand makes, the better it feels and the easier it is for our team to behave in the right way and deliver the Traffika brand experience.

Matt Forman is a digital entrepreneur and start-up mentor. He is currently the Managing Director at Traffika and a Director at HEARIS, a Social Media Management Software company. You can connect with Matt on LinkedIn or follow him on Google+.

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  • Chris Mills

    Thanks Matt for sharing your honest experiences about the realities of branding. I’m so glad you made the point about the WHY.

    Branding is incredible important. Most organisations know WHAT they do in business, some organisations know HOW they do it, but hardly any of them have a clear understanding of WHY they are in business. (And no – making a profit is not the why – everyone needs to make money to pay expenses, even charities). Matt, your experience is very typical and I really appreciate that you shared your learnings.

    The most innovative businesses start with WHY and then work out the HOW and the WHAT.

    My team and I have encountered similar problems with branding in the past. We’ve had a lot of grief from cyber squatters and on principle we don’t deal with them now. A lot of our clients have also had similar problems with branding and in particular with creating a unique name that they could use across international markets.

    So we decided to do something to help out our fellow entrepreneurs.

    We fundamentally believe everyone deserves the opportunity to fulfill their potential. (WHY) And we believe the world will be a better place to work and live when people create more than they consume. (WHY) We know that a lot of people have great ideas but never get the chance to make then come alive. So we decided to dedicate our time to take away some of the pain in business (HOW) and we are now offering a free brand search service where you can search for a globally unique name across almost 200 website domains, over 1000 social media sites, and millions of trademarks. (WHAT)

    I know this free service would have saved me months of time on past branding projects. It is very hard to find a unique name these days unless of course you use an automated search engine like

    Please feel free to use the free search service at and yes we love to receive feedback as we want to improve how we can serve you.. so you can get on with the important job of creating!

  • TA Lines

    Hi Chris is US only. Australian’s need to use something that includes Australia. Like or

    TMarque does social media, domains and US/Australian/EU/China trademarks too. And its free.