You’re not part of the team until you put the uniform on, and you’re not part of the family unless you share name. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) took note and dropped its old colors to join the America’s Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) network theme of red, white and blue, as part of a rebranding effort that was completed in May 2015.
The rebranding was designed to connect closely with the national network, but the LSBDC mission remains the same – to provide comprehensive, high-quality assistance to small businesses, and to business entrepreneurs.
“Our new brand serves as a visual representation of the strong connection that we have with our national network of SBDCs across the country,” said Rande Kessler, LSBDC State Director.
The LSBDC worked with several Louisiana-based small businesses including Branded Company of Louisiana, LLC, to develop its print and digital collateral; NMD, Inc. & eMerge enhanced its web and social media presence; and Elephant Quilt Productions developed a series of training tutorials.
LSBDC Director of Marketing and Communications Na’Tisha Natt mainly worked with Louisiana small businesses on the rebrand effort.
“I truly loved working with our local companies,” Natt said. “There is no better way to showcase the talents of Louisiana’s small businesses, some of whom are our clients.”
Not only did Natt build stronger relationships with local companies, the rebrand also helped create other bonds.
“This gave us an opportunity to build new alliances and people were excited about it. We received a lot of positive feedback along the way from our clients, supporters, legislators, and other sectors within the state,” Natt said.
The LSBDC didn’t just go through a logo change, Natt used the rebrand as an opportunity “to reconfigure everything visually about us.”
“We reproduced and created all of our marketing materials to really be this one, new identity,” Natt said.
The effort took almost a full year to complete, with the new brand configuration starting in August of 2014. Looking back, Natt learned she did some things really well and some things she could have done differently.
Natt talked about communicating with the local centers to make sure they understood the purpose of what “we’re doing and understanding what’s to come of it.”
“We wanted to make sure that our stakeholders and staff were comfortable with what we wanted to do and that helped with the buy-in and the implementation of the new brand,” Natt said.
“Reaching out to other networks to see what they had already done was imperative,” Natt said. “Fortunately, we found that Florida’s network had just gone through the rebrand process. Cheryl [Kirby] was a huge help. She shared best practices and lessons learned. During our conversation, I learned that they had a series of videos that were a good fit for our network. We later adapted them for our network, which saved us a lot of time and money.”
“Being a one-person marketing team made time management a challenge. But we had to stay on task,” Natt said. “I learned how important it is to have a strong support team. Soliciting help from a few people within our office and the centers who could be champions of the project, really helped the project stay on schedule.”
Natt said she also was able to use the rebrand as an opportunity to build the LSBDC image and get the word out there about the SBDC in general.
“Although we promoted the rebrand, it gave us an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves and let people know about who we are in general, and we saw results. Our consultants have seen more next-level businesses wanting growth and they were able to find us through our rebranding efforts,” Natt said.
Natt added: “If I had to give one piece of advice to a center that is planning to overhaul their brand, I would recommend that you give yourself ample time to complete the project. Rebranding is a huge undertaking, reaching out to other SBDCs that have been through the process can save you a lot of time and potentially save you money as well.”