If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times. It can be so difficult to know what to do to promote your business when you’re in the middle of the branding process. You’re caught between keeping your current presence consistent while impatiently awaiting the day you can show off your new look. And the worst part? Finding the motivation to show up before you’re ready.
This is also true for businesses just getting started. It’s always a matter of “Do I start now or wait until everything is finished?”
Just because you’re planning a new direction for your business doesn’t mean you have to ghost on your audience in the meantime. Keep in mind that social media is just that - SOCIAL. It’s a community of people who opted in to watch your story unfold. And there’s no better way to invite your followers into your journey than in the midst of a transition.
There are some amazing opportunities to build loyalty and interest for your brand when you’re in the midst of a transition. It's a chance to let your audience participate in your process of discovery. It's even a chance to get to know your audience better and ask them what they want to see from you! If you're having trouble answering questions about your target customer, consider going to social media to find the answers! It's even fun to get your audience's opinion on some minor design decisions - like your color palette or a monogram (keeping in mind it's WAY easier to get engagement when they only have to decide between 2 options!)
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there before you're ready. Start small and let things grow a bit organically. It will feel more like a transformation when your followers are able to see it unfold over time. There will be more of a personal connection to your brand story that way.
Today I want to answer 8 of the most commonly asked questions about Instagram that we hear from our clients during the branding process. And the best part is that most of these answers pertain to social media in general - so feel free to take a few notes on how to handle your other platforms as well. Marketing is all about the strategy of what you’re trying to accomplish and can be adapted to whatever platform or outlet your customers are using.
“Do I need to start a new Instagram account?”
If you’re starting a new business and want to keep a personal account, then start a new PERSONAL account (this is what I did!) You’ll want a head start on your business following because that one’s harder to build. Your friends are more likely to follow you onto your new account, but many will stay to support your new venture!
If you’re worried about confusing your friends, just throw up a temporary post letting your family and friends know that you will begin using your account to share your creative journey, and if they want to see puppy spam and vacations, to follow you on your new account (but might as well encourage them to follow both!) To be honest, for me it was as easy as interacting with friends and family from a new account.
If you’re starting a brand new business that is targeted towards a completely different audience, then yes, it’s time to start a new account. Go ahead and snag that handle while it’s still available.
An example one person who was a good candidate for multiple accounts is Kendall Hannah. Her wedding photography business runs under the handle @kendallhanna - this account showcases her photography work and a lot about her personality. However, her event series @whitebuffaloproject is for creative women and is centered around a community that has less to do with her and more to do with the people she gathers around her table. But, there’s a lot of crossover between those two worlds, and you’ll see that she shouts out her other business venture right there in her bio.
Lastly, if you’re keeping your business but changing your name, then stay where you are! There’s no need to start from scratch unless it’s ABSOLUTELY necessary. It’s hard enough to gain momentum on Instagram these days without forcing yourself to start over unnecessarily. I remember when Breanna Rose switched to Rowan Made, but instead of blankly switching, she spent time explaining the thought behind the new name. For us, when I switched from DesignbyKadie to Drop Cap Design, I was worried that people wouldn’t get it and stop following me. A few did, but not many. And instead, a lot of new people joined the party who were excited about where I was taking things.
“Should I delete all my old content?”
Short answer - no. Those who scroll all the way to the beginning are already hooked. No one is going to unfollow you because you posted a cliche beach sunset in 2012 using the Nashville filter. If anything it makes you more relatable.
If you want some good scrollable content to hide the old stuff, then post a bit more frequently during the rebrand with the direction you’re going in. With the new algorithm, it’s really not going to overwhelm your followers and it will help to bury the old stuff a few posts back.
I’ve done this SO many times on our account. I’ll occasionally delete a few photos to make the grid feel better, but I try not to delete massive amounts of posts and major windows of time. I’m proud of my journey and the journey of our studio. I’m ok with the fact that my skills as a designer have improved since my first day on the job. And sometimes it’s fun to go back and see just how much I’ve grown along the way!
However, you also need to consider your privacy. A good rule of thumb with all public accounts (especially business accounts) is to consider what you would want to keep private if it blew up overnight. Your children? Your home address? Your significant other?
If there are posts that share a little more than you’d want to typically share with a stranger, go ahead and delete it. Once it’s out there, it’s out there and it’s a good practice to have privacy boundaries from the beginning.
“Do I share that I’m rebranding with my audience?”
Yes! Most companies go through a brand refresh a couple of times as the business grows. Typically a rebrand becomes necessary when you’re trying to reach a new audience, when your values or style have changed, or if you brand becomes outdated and irrelevant. You should never feel ashamed of refreshing your look! It means you’re taking your business seriously, you’re aware of a shifting market, and that you’ve got big plans for the future. A rebrand is adapting your business to the inevitable changes in the online marketplace.
It’s an amazing opportunity to build anticipation and curiosity around a big reveal. Just be a bit conservative with the “coming soon” posts. If you tease out that something’s coming over and over again for weeks with no context, people are going to wonder if there’s actually anything going on.
Instead of building “coming soon” hype, consider letting your audience become part of the creative process. For instance, the naming and the color palette and the style. Share your mood board and glimpses of design proofs. Share colors that you find that remind you of your new look! It will begin to familiarize your audience with where you’re going.
If you’re starting a new business alongside your current business, it might not be as necessary to share unless you’re anticipating some customer overlap. In that case, just share sparingly and consider throwing up a landing page to capture email addresses for launch day.
“I don’t have any professional photography yet, what do I post?”
It’s never too early to consider how and what you’ll be posting when your new brand is ready. If you’re a photographer, maybe re-edit some old photos with the new style. If you’re a designer, revisit old work and give it a new spin.
You can even repost images that will help you curate a consistent visual grid. But this part can get so tricky and become major grey area. I’ve seen people do an amazing job with curating reposted work from other places.
A great example is the account @modernhuntsman. This handle was created as a way to do market research for a new idea. They began curating a grid based on reposting work from like-minded accounts in a way that created a shared umbrella story. And that story was what they planned to build their brand on. And it blew up!! Which was huge confirmation that the market existed and was excited about that direction. But there are some rules around this strategy:
- Always, always credit the original source appropriately. Don’t bury it in hashtags or push it to the side. Celebrate the original creator and be very upfront about where it came from and why it inspired you/how it fits into your unique story and overall message.
- As much as possible, avoid reposting work that could be mistaken for your own work (for example, a photographer posting competitor’s work or an interior designer only posting rooms they didn’t design.) It just becomes confusing and could be unappreciated from the original creator. There have been a few times I’ve re-posted the work of other designers I TRULY admire, but am always extra careful that it’s not mistaken as mine. I would hate to offend or steal from the very people who inspire me.
“Where do I find new followers?”
Explore hashtags and become an engaged part of the Instagram community by being active on the platform. Become fans on other accounts and make new friends! The best way to gain a following these days is to go out and “meet” other people. Be an optimistic force on social media. Add some positive energy to the platform.
Reach out about potential collaborations with like-minded accounts. You can still network even when it’s digital. DO NOT troll on other accounts just asking them to follow you. It’s not going to make anyone want to see what you’re doing. Instead, leave genuine comments around the platform and show up ready to participate.
“What kind of original content should I post?”
There are tons of ideas for what you can post as your brand is in creation!
You can share behind-the-scenes of building your business or your creative process. Show where you work on your idea and who you’re meeting along the way. If you’re building a product, show the prototype! Show your tools and materials. Show your creative process and a glimpse at what it takes to turn it into a business. Share the books, podcasts, and workshops you’re using to learn more about your new idea!
Inspire your audience by sharing what it is you’re trying to accomplish with this new idea. Share your vision for the future. Share the kinds of things you want to work on. Share what you want life to look like when things take off! Inspire your audience with your passion and let them see what you’re inspired by!
Share what you know for free and build trust by being generous with what you know. Share quick tips and easy tutorials. Share simple insights and how-tos! Education is a great way to create an audience that wants to come back for more, and an awesome way to nurture potential clients and customers before a big launch!
“How soon should I build anticipation for my launch?”
There’s no real formula for this - you can share glimpses over time and build up to the launch or you could do a countdown before. You can even wait and have a massive surprise at the end! Just remember that with the new algorithm, it may take posting about a topic 5-6 times to get your whole audience to see it. And even those who typically see most of your posts probably won’t see all of them.
I would suggest coming up with a plan that feels natural. For some, that means a countdown, and for others it feels natural and exciting to share things as they unfold. And others are all into the shock factor of a big reveal! I would only suggest that you build some sort of anticipation so that your audience knows to look for big news.
“What should I post to announce my new brand?”
Why, your new logo of course! And your website! And champagne! And your smiling face! A launch is a digital party, so throw it in your style. I’ve seen so many creative ways to share a launch, from Meredith Crawford’s bright party for the launch (and renaming) of @onesocialgirl to the beautifully sweet champagne toast for the announcement of @yearsofgold.
I would just encourage you to share it before moving on to the next project. You’ve worked hard! Celebrate the start of something new!
There are so many creative ways to use the platform, especially when you're on the cusp of something new! If you've been thinking about rebranding, but haven't quite wrapped your head around where you want to go - I've created the perfect workbook for you. It's called the Brand Scratch Pad and it's designed to help you gather your thoughts and dig deep into the purpose of your brand and the message you're trying to communicate. Oh yeah, and it's free!
The Brand Scratch Pad
And just a quick note - we only have one spot left for branding in September! If you're thinking about going through this process for your own business before the end of the year, go ahead and send us a message :) We'd love to hear from you!