Getting engaged was (as I would imagine it is for most people) an incredibly happy occasion. I couldn’t wait to share the news with my family and friends and started imagining the wedding day and how my life would change afterwards. One thing I did not anticipate back then was how big of an enterprise personal rebranding would be.
You see, I’ve been building my personal brand for several years now and it’s one of the most important tools for me as a freelancer. People in my community know me – and people outside of the community can easily find me. This was all about to change and I wasn’t able to find a single piece of advice on how to tackle rebranding from the point of view of an individual.
Despite the lack of guidance, I feel I managed quite well and last week was my first international event (#SOSUEE Sourcing Summit) under the new brand.
A lot of people seem to dismiss the topic, as the need for personal rebranding doesn’t arise too often and there’s a big group of people who don’t seem affected by it at all. But raising the subject on LinkedIn made me aware that the need for personal branding doesn’t just affect people getting married. It’s just as important (if not more so) for transgender individuals for example. What’s even more interesting, personal rebranding doesn’t necessarily have to involve changing your name – it could be the result of changing your professional direction, moving into a different industry or role. This means that, really, anyone could potentially have to go through this exercise.
In my case, I could consider three different scenarios for the rebranding:
What I found interesting in discussing these options with others was their motivations for chosing one of the three options. Some people clearly prioritised business and thought the obvious choice was to keep my last name unchanged. Some others mentioned that if my professional brand was stronger than my future husband’s, he should be the one to change his name instead!
I hope this subject will be covered more often and that women and men alike feel that it’s OK to base your decision purely on their personal preference. This is what I did – and why I decided to change my last name – thinking it must be possible to avoid any negative impact on my business.
I’ve decided that rebranding gives me a great opportunity to refresh every aspect of my brand. This included creating a new brand book for myself: new logo, new fonts, new colours, new website design and a new presentation template. On top of that I updated my picture to match the new brand look. I didn’t do any of that myself, mind you, I hired professionals to help: a graphic designer and my usual photographer.
Of course you could just as easily stop at a new logo, or in fact simply change your name without changing anything else at all. But since I’ve been freelancing for a while now and set up my own company as well, I wanted for my audience to understand I’m not just doing this in between jobs. I’m serious about my business and I want all of the aspects of my brand to reflect it.
After all, if I owned a larger company and wanted to change its name, I would have undergone the same process. And, just as with a company rebranding process, I had two goals: to communicate the change to my existing audience and to reach new people at the same time.
What I found extremely helpful in reaching those two goals was focusing on communicating the change way before it happened. When making the decision about the name I should be using after the wedding, I asked my network for advice on LinkedIn. This alerted my network to the upcoming change, but also got my profile in front of LinkedIn users that hadn’t known me before.
Similarly, when I made my decision, I made sure to mention it as frequently as I could. I changed my LinkedIn headline to include my new name by presenting my Twitter handle (I changed my Twitter username almost a month before the wedding). I told each of my clients I’ll be changing my name and set up an Out Of Office message on my email account to remind them of it too.
I changed my username on Instagram or Twitter prior to the wedding, but waited with Facebook until the big day so as not to confuse my friends.. The good thing about changing the username is that I could introduce some consistency. Earlier I wouldn’t always be able to get the same username across platforms, as I didn’t set them all up at the same time.
Step 1. Reflect on why you’re going through a rebranding process and what opportunities it presents to you. If your brand hasn’t been entirely consistent or if you have done everything by yourself so far, this is the perfect moment to repair any mistakes you may have made. People change, so take this time to make sure the core of your brand is aligned with your current goals and with who you are today.
Step 2. Start communicating the change. Seeking the guidance of your network as you’re making important decisions is a great way to do this! You don’t have to follow each piece of advice, but asking for help will engage your audience and make them care. Hopefully, they’ll start following your rebranding journey to see how things develop.
Step 3. Prepare the visual materials, ideally by working with a graphic designer and/or a photographer. I found it useful to change my picture before I changed my name on social media – changing everything at once can be a little confusing to your audience. If they don’t recognise your face nor your name, they’ll wonder who you are.
Step 4. Review your bios and profiles. Make sure they’re consistent with the new brand. Make sure your website and/or blog also reflect the new you. If you’re speaking at events, ask the organisers to update your information.
Step 5. Remind people of the change once you’ve started using the new brand. I keep mentioning “this is my first event with the new name”, in one workshop I said “there’s been a change of plans – Kasia Borowicz won’t be joining, instead I’ll lead the workshop”. Protip: if there’s anyone in the room that doesn’t know you, you should probably explain the joke to them 😉