Have you stopped to think of how your logo, website, content, and social media presence are representing your unique value in the marketplace? Have you stopped to think of how your logo, website, content, and social media presence are representing your unique value in the marketplace?
These elements make up your brand – the essence of what your business is about. A good brand strategy and design can convey in a moment the core of your business, and attract your ideal client.
If you’re not thinking about how others see your business – you may be sending mixed messages to the world and potentially missing out on clients through sloppy presentation.
Maybe you already know that your logo is embarrassing and you secretly hope no one lands on your website because it looks like a five year old made it. Or maybe you’ve genuinely never thought about how you’re representing your business through design and content. Or maybe business has slowed down and you attract the wrong customers but you don’t know why.
You might want to consider a rebrand. That’s what Jennifer Myers Chua suggested when she joined as co-owner of Hip Mommies with her husband Joseph in 2014. The rebrand sky rocketed their business to success. Her story is featured here to highlight the challenges and benefits of rebranding.
Hip Mommies is a Canadian distributor of health and baby products for modern Canadian families. They distribute useful, well-made, thoughtful, mom-approved, safe products that are manufactured in a responsible way. Chua looks to partner with suppliers that are good people, supporting good causes, and that are doing business ethically. Thoughtfully curated, Hip Mommies focus on a small range of lines that everyone can love.
Here is her story on rebranding Hip Mommies in 2014, which was struggling after 10 years in business.
What was the online strategy like when Hip Mommies started in 2004?
My husband Joey started Hip Mommies in 2004 with his older sister. He was teaching English in Japan, a few years out of university, and she was having her first child. A friend of hers from Europe gifted her a “Bumbo” and she was intrigued. She got on the phone with the manufacturer and convinced them to let her bring the line to Canada. She is very gutsy and very persuasive. She then convinced her youngest brother to come back home and help her with the business. They started running the company out of her tiny victorian row-house basement in the Beach neighborhood of Toronto, and then moved to some self-storage type units. Once the Bumbo took off, they secured a warehouse/office space in an industrial business park and then did all you do when you start a business. Neither of them had any experience in design, branding, web.. so they hired a friend of a friend to make them a logo and a website. There was no online strategy at all. They didn’t know what that was. The site was really clunky, didn’t work well and the design.. well it WAS the early 2000’s… but It wasn’t great.
They hired a friend of a friend to make them a logo and a website. There was no online strategy at all. They didn’t know what that was.
In 2004 I was in second year university in the Ryerson School of Image Arts New Media program. I was still going to drum and bass parties, wearing asymmetrical haircuts and geeking out over experimental video. I could barely Photoshop. I would not meet my husband until 2008(ish), I would not convince him to let me touch his businesses’ design and collateral until 2010 and I wouldn’t come on board until 2014, which is when we made a major shift with the business and did a full rebrand.
What was the deciding factor behind rebranding Hip Mommies in 2014?
My career had taken a number of paths, but at this point I was a digital art director / design team lead at Shaw media. Designers on my team were responsible for all of the digital properties for all of the broadcast networks, and all of the digital creative for the sales and marketing teams. I loved it. I was the primary designer on both the HGTV.ca and FoodNetwork.ca redesigns, and I spent a great deal of time working on user experience and content for both sites as well. I was leading a team of 11. One Monday I walked into the office and was let go in a round of layoffs. On Wednesday we had my going away party and I didn’t feel great. On Saturday I was sitting in a doctor’s office elated to find out I was pregnant, but nervous about my future. I began interviewing like mad, for some some really incredible roles, but I was having a hard time imagining 60 hour weeks and announcing my impending maternity leave. So my husband (who had bought out his sister in 2010) and I talked, and he suggested that I come on board full time with Hip Mommies. So I did.
I was pregnant…and…desperate to make this work
Being a very take-charge person, and being really desperate to make this work, I suggested that we do a full rebrand. To put this in perspective, we shortened the name of the business, bought a new URL, created a new logo, designed some logo alternatives, a new colour scheme, completely changed our motto and our “voice”, built a new website, signed up for social media accounts and began sharing, started a blog, built an online ordering system for our retailers and created an e-commerce site on the Shopify platform to sell to the public. Plus all print material. And we did this between running a business, prenatal yoga classes and doctor’s appointments. It was a tremendous undertaking but I knew that it was what needed to happen.
How did rebranding impact your business?
I am not exaggerating here. The rebrand completely revived the business. The business was already ten years old, established, and had a good base of clients, but it was struggling. Once I set things in place we went from one stratosphere to the next. Ok, it sounds dramatic, but I cannot even give you the metrics that would convince you. We went from being seen as “another Canadian distributor” to one of the leaders in the industry. We gained tremendous respect from our clients and grew our revenue through our B2C business which was not in place before. But most importantly, the quality of suppliers that were interested in partnering with us improved exponentially.
I am not exaggerating here. The rebrand completely revived the business….Before the rebrand we had to sell ourselves to prospective suppliers. Now, they sell themselves to us.
My husband and I often reflect on those days. Before the rebrand we had to sell ourselves to prospective suppliers. Now, they sell themselves to us. It is incredibly powerful, and a wonderful feeling. At this point we can very carefully curate our lineup. We have the power to be “boutique.” The lines that we carry, the baby, health and pet products that we represent and sell in Canada are very carefully vetted and we can keep our lineup tight. We have the power to work with only the absolute best companies that 100% support our company’s values. We know that these companies are the game changers, and that they are making a difference in this world. We would have never gotten lines like ezpz, Kizingo, Doddle & Co. if we had not rebranded.
I estimate that our monthly sales over three months currently would equal a year’s worth of sales before.
What was the hardest part about rebranding?
I had infinite possibilities, total control, and that was terrifying.
This was really tough for me. I was hormonal, emotional and there was a lot riding on this. It was not only my first hurrah, I was entering an industry that I knew nothing about and everything was invested in this business. Previously, when I would freelance, I would send out a questionnaire and create a brand or a website based on answers typed to me in an email. This just wasn’t enough in this case. I also deal better with parameters. In this case I had infinite possibilities, total control, and that was terrifying. I had no one to set any limitations and I could take this in any direction. Luckily, I have a core group of designers, many whom I have gone to school with, or who have worked under me that are supremely talented, and not afraid to tear me apart. I would run things by them. I finally settled on something that really speaks to who we are, what we stand for and I went with it. Once I made those initial decisions, it was easy. As a company we are 100% authentic. We are transparent, vocal, you see who we are and what we stand for. So it has been easy to carry and grow the brand because it is such an extension of us.
What advice do you have for a business owner if their online growth is stagnate?
You need to get some outside help. My husband was unable to see what was wrong and how to fix it because he was too close to the problem. Small business owners often think that hiring a designer is too expensive but I am going to be blunt here. Your etsy logo that they customized with your business name? The generic wordpress template, or the Canva presentations? Those will get you far if your business is doing everything else well. But if you want to get to the next level you NEED to get professional help, and design that is specifically created for your brand. A good designer is worth their weight, trust me. Find someone talented, passionate, and who knows their stuff and then trust them. They will elevate your brand, and get you to the place you need to be. Put it in your budget, you will see the ROI.
If you want to get to the next level you NEED to get professional help, and design that is specifically created for your brand.
What I wouldn’t suggest is rolling out beta versions of any B2B ordering system at 8 months pregnant or so, but whatever works.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I have been a designer/art director for over 15 years, and I have worked in web for most of that time. I have owned.. 3, 4, 5? businesses before this one and all of those failed. Hip Mommies works. I really think it is because I have a partner who completely trusts where I am going as a designer, and gives me the space to make the changes that I find necessary. When we rebranded, It was a really terrifying time for us as husband and wife, business partners, parents-to-be. Rebranding our business was the start of the wildly successful business we have now, and it was worth all of the struggle.
If you are thinking about doing a rebrand DO IT. You need to be in love with your business….It might just be the jump-start you need.
So if you are thinking about doing a rebrand DO IT. You need to be in love with your business, in love with your brand, in love with your copy in order to make a solid go at it. It might just be the jump-start you need. Or a pregnancy, but, you know.
For brand inspiration (or some great products for your kiddies), check out Hip Mommies at https://hipmommies.ca
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