Here's a thing that's hard to understand at first. Your brand and your business are NOT the same thing...
Freaked out yet? Bear with me.
Your business is a thing. It's a thing that you built however many years ago, or maybe it's a thing that you're just dreaming about or getting ready to launch. Your business exists in all the technical details. It's whether you hire an accountant or a bookkeeper, it's how you process invoices, it's how you set up your production line or how you outline your process. There are a MILLION decisions that go into running a business and there are two places where BRAND and business touch.
Think of your business as a person. And since I'm a small business owner, I'm going to imagine my business is ME. My BUSINESS is my heart... my lungs... my stomach, my fingernails, my nerves, my neurons. All the corporeal mechanisms that make me exist in a physical way and allow me to breathe and function in the world.
Following the metaphor, my BRAND is two things:
My clothing/accessories/general appearance
Which is intense.... But apt.
And THIS is where we start talking about the Brand Lifecycle. Because your soul doesn't change. Your choices and opinions may shift and reshape over the years, but your soul is solid. It is your reason for being. The core your existence. The thing that happens before you even think to ask the question "why?". It's as unchanging as your DNA and SHOULD be the basis for every business-related decision you make. And the first step in brand building should ALWAYS be, understanding that soul. A brand that is built in opposition to, or disconnected from, that soul is always going to be a brand in conflict. How are you supposed to know what decisions you should make for your business if you're trying to build it for a soul that isn't quite yours...?
Ok, scary stuff over. Because the other side of the brand lifecycle is SUPER FUN!!! The visual brand! Still following the metaphor, it's your appearance. Your outfit, your style, your accessories, your makeup, your sweats, your comfy sneakers, whatever you want!!! And that? That can change. That can be turned upside-down or inside-out as often as you like. And it's SO FUN!!!
I literally just designed a brand for someone with the intention of making it FEEL like a soft, warm, oversized winter sweater... Not an exaggeration. There was literally a picture of a super-soft, gray, woolly sweater in her mood board, because I wanted her visual brand to feel like HER and to make people feel like they could just fall into her services a immediately feel comforted and embraced.
So what does this all mean, technically and practically, for you and your business/brand..?
It means that the first step is to realize and understand the soul of your brand. The purpose, the meaning, the destiny, the essence.
The second step is to take that newfound sense of purpose and pick the right outfit for right now. Beyond the deep, core, being stuff, what do you want right now? What are you feeling? Who do you want to speak to? How do you want the next couple of years to feel and where do you want them to take you?
In all my experience, personal and professional, I suggest taking a look at your visual brand every 3-5 years. Make sure the clothes still fit.