1. Listen to Customers:
I was chatting on a quiet afternoon in 2015 at a trade fair to Brian, a friend whose opinion I respect hugely and who happens to work at the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. He and his colleague Emma had mentioned rebranding to me several times but I didn’t want to hear about it. But that day, he told me a story about being in a shop in Waterford called The Cliff looking for a gift. He stood in the shop with a bog standard candle in one hand and a competitor’s candle in the other hand and found himself buying the competitor's one because he didn't want to buy his mother-in-law something that said ‘bog standard'. It got me thinking, how many other people had done this too?
When I started bog standard at my mum’s kitchen table in 2003, it was soaps only, wrapped in real pieces of hessian cloth. Over the years, the product evolved into something more stylish and interior driven. Bog standard as a brand was quirky, tongue in cheek and reflected my love of the Irish heritage and earth. I also loved that it wasn't a pretentious name - we didn't take ourselves too seriously. But Brian reminded me that not everyone ‘got’ the name. People would say to me ‘But your products are so beautiful, why call them bog standard?”. Other people would tell the how much they loved the name. I started to wonder if my brand had a marmite effect on people; they either loved it or hated it? I needed to listen to my customers much more keenly in light of an ever more crowded marketplace.
2. Ask Others:
When I am stuck on something, I ask questions. I set up meetings with some buyers and with Emma from the Design Crafts Council of Ireland. I asked for honest views about rebranding. They all voted for a change and what stuck with me is that they felt bog standard was holding my business back. To balance out the discussion I asked my design agency and my sister (the family go-to on all matters of style and taste). ‘Oh no’ they both said – ‘don’t change your name, it’s what sets you apart’ What to do? I realised it was over to me to make the final decision...
3. But Go with your Gut Instinct:
I have made a couple of errors of judgement in business over the years that had I gone with my gut instinct, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache. My gut was telling me rebranding was the right thing to do. With the support of my husband, I bit the bullet and brainstormed a new brand name. I knew I wanted it to be 2 words, a nod to our Irish roots & bog standard brand but overall, it had to be something memorable. And Field Day was born, ticking all of those boxes perfectly.
4. Don’t be afraid of the Logistics:
I was overwhelmed at the rebranding logistics. Re-designing and re-printing packaging and labels. Dealing with old stock in our warehouse and potentially having to take back stock from our bigger customers. Educating our customers & getting them on board with what we were doing – It was a risk. What if we confused them or they didn't like it? What about cashflow?!
But the gut took over and I again reminded myself that the market was becoming crowded and I couldn't afford to be the brand that people would put back up on the shelf. I couldn't risk my name being a barrier for customers.
5. Set a timeframe and stick to it no matter what:
I gave myself a goal to complete the rebranding in time for the Showcase trade show in January 2017 with finished product ready for shops by April 2017. I also had the crazy idea of launching a brand new candle brand called Field Apothecary at the same time. I don't recommend that! I think I also made it harder for myself because as well as changing the name, I gave the packaging an update and added new European labelling requirements. It made sense to do it all at once however it meant that every piece of packaging was completely re-designed and without question, it was the hardest 10 months of my life. Did I mention that I moved to larger business premises in the same year? I have deep lines on my forehead that I call my Field Day Cashflow Wrinkles. Because rebrands are not cheap.
How did we manage it? We discounted all bog standard products in order to sell off stock and keep shelf presence in stores. We definitely did not want to lose our shelf space to someone else. We also sold end of lines to TKMaxx and with some creative direct marketing, managed to keep the cashflow going - just!
With a few extra grey hairs, I made it to the trade fair – with both new brands. All of the Field Day packaging were digital proofs collected the day before so it was real skin of my teeth stuff. But I took one look at my beautiful stand and it was suddenly all worth it. The first buyers to arrive were from a beautiful store near Galway. I had tried for years to sell to them without any luck but that day, they walked onto the stand and placed an order.
We are now 18 months on from that trade fair and I can honestly say we have not looked back. It was the right thing to do – and it’s been reflected on the bottom line too – sales immediately went up by 20% and continue to grow. So far, I've had to recruit 3 new staff members. I still have a few die-hard bog standard fans who say they miss the old name. All I can do is reassure them that the products are as good as they always were and remind them how valued they are as a customer.
So if you're wondering about rebranding, don't be afraid but equally, don't rush into it. Listen to your customers, ask wise colleagues and friends for advice and listen to your gut. It won't be an easy road but a well planned and executed rebrand could be just the boost your business needs.