Rebranding. Sucks.

rebranding_sprite.pngI launched JibberJobber May 15, 2006. If I remember correctly, it came out as a “job search tool” or “job search organization tool” even though the logo says “career toolset.”

I’m not sure how or why it was “JibberJobber –> job search tool” early on, because I remember wanting to brand it in a much bigger light… that is, a long-term career tool (or, set of tools).

About three weeks after launching I realized that I had to … can you believe it … rebrand! And you know what, it has been very difficult to get over the initial perception of “job search tool.” That’s kind of okay because it was optimized for those in a job search right now. But, once you get a job you should still take care of your network. You should still have target companies that you are tracking and monitoring. You should still keep your resume updated. You should still have elevator pitches. There are a lot of things that we all “should” do… we kind of perfect them during the job search process but once we get that job we go into “relax” mode and neglect our careers.

rebranding_gateway.gifJibberJobber is the perfect tool for these long-term tasks (which really should be your part of your lifestyle).

I’m still working on that rebranding.

Let me tie this back to an amazing observation I made while interning at Simplot. I noticed that interns were, well, interns! That is, we were all treated as part-timer, wet-behind-the-ear kids. But there was this one full-time guy who had graduated about 5 years earlier… you know what? His brand at work was something like “he was the intern in Finance.”

Wow – five years later, working full-time, and he couldn’t shake that brand!

Want to know the best way that I saw to rebrand? I saw someone else do it and the difference was night and day.

This other guy had graduated about five years earlier also. But after switching to full-time with Simplot he was offered a job somewhere else. He took it for about two or three years, and wasn’t branded as the intern… but decided to come back to Simplot.

rebranding_kfc.pngGuess what?

Person A was always known as “the guy that was the intern from finance.

Person B was “the guy that was at that other company, did amazing things (or, had amazing titles), and came back to us, adding to the diversity of our management.

It was night and day. The lesson I took away from this is that if you want to be known as something more than the intern, perhaps you have to get out, do something else (perhaps even something mysterious), and when you come back your personal brand will be different.

Have you ever had to rebrand? Do you have any tips for me (with JibberJobber), or my readers, for rebranding their personal brand?

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14 thoughts on “Rebranding. Sucks.”

  1. Jason,

    I agree that rebranding can be hard within an organization. I think the best way to do it is to become a specialist at something. The associate in a law firm is the associate in the law firm. However, if the associate becomes the specialist at something, they move up the food chain. They become the specialist in area A. Once that brand starts to erase, just the associate, you can become the specialist in related fields. Once others know that you know more about something (and preferably several things) the negative brand begins to fade and it is easier to build the brand you want.

  2. There are so many levels to this question, especially for young workers today. There’s, as you pointed out, the problem with people always associating you with where you started – your department, your title, your job functions. There’s also the problem of getting past peoples’ perceptions of where you are on the learning curve, along with your attitude and work ethic. When you start out as a new kid on the block, you can come off cocky if you didn’t ask too many questions or needy if you do.

    But, I think it really comes down to empowering yourself to realize and address these issues. You can change your job if you need to. Or, you can change your attitude or work ethic. You can find the courage to ask for better projects or a promotion. You can align yourself with a mentor. The power of personal branding is also a pretty big responsibility, but it is something you can learn to make work for you and not against you. If you’re willing to work for it.

  3. I think rebranding is a challenge and opportunity at the same time. No matter what happens, you should always be prepared for confusion or people that are unsatisfied. It’s part of the business world.

  4. Jason,

    Rebranding is tough. When we start a new job with the same employer we tend to carry a lot of baggage with us from the previous job. The best thing is to try to make a break as completely and as soon as you can. Otherwise you are still thought of as being in your old position.


  5. Hi Jason:

    As a Certified Personal Branding Strategist — as I know you are, as well — I can tell you from the experience of rebranding myself, and a number of my executive clients, that the simple answer is a combination of clarity, passion, and focus.

    The toughest part is the clarity — once you have that the passion is inevitable. The focus takes some work to stay on course every day and do what needs to be done to build the new brand presence.

    Here are ten “Deb Dib” rules for rebranding (works for employment or business brands)…

    Note: these “rules” are not for a personal brand – that’s hardwired into you. But the face of that personal brand– how your brand “works at work” or in business — can change according to your interests or market conditions; hence the need / desire to rebrand.

    1. Do the homework you need to do to know what you want to be known for

    2. Make sure it’s comfortable and authentic to you

    3. Make sure it’s valuable to an employer or your market

    4. Try and be as niched (specialized) as possible to increase your value

    5. Get passionate about evangelizing your new message (if you can’t be passionate about it you may not yet have reached the clarity of a deeply visceral brand — keep working for that “eureka” feeling that tells you you’re there)

    6. Create a strategic plan and timeline for maximizing your exposure as your new brand. Don’t forget to include re-building or establishing your on-line presence.

    7. Make all decisions brand decisions — ask yourself, “Is the answer on brand or not?” “Will this decision strengthen my brand presence, or weaken it?”

    8. Have very good reasons for doing something that is off-brand– because a muddy brand dilutes rather than strengthens. A muddy brand confuses and erodes confidence — your own and that of the marketplace.

    9. Educate your personal board of directors as to your new direction — get some passionate advocates working with you.

    10. Give to get — be open and generous with “on brand” knowledge and help — the “career karma” William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson talk about in Career Distinction doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    Bonus rule: Gladly embrace the fact that building, strengthening, and refining an authentic and valuable employment or business brand never ends — it’s an evolving and exciting continuum.

    Jason, I know you know theses rules – I’m not evangelizing to you! But I hope they are helpful to your readers who may be less familiar with the wonders that purposeful identity creation (branding) can do for careers. 🙂

    Deb Dib, CEO Coach, and Unabashedly Enthusiastic Personal Brand Advocate

  6. Jason,

    Berkshire Hathaway started as a cotton mill. Buffett never saw a reason to change the name, he just did things well and slowly moved the focus of the company from cotton to investments. His first shares cost him about $15 in 1962. Today it’s trading at $111,000 a share (as Steve Martin says, “you do the math”). Big lesson here, do something exceedingly well and you will gain recognition, success and reward. Deb is dead on with one simple word, clarity.

    JibberJobber is first and foremost about organizing and tracking one’s job search. With about 60% of workers considering making a career change, you have a pretty sizable target market. The fact that it is also a great career management and contact management tool after the job search is a nice plus.

    Become the indispensible job search tracking tool and then you can use the Arm & Hammer Baking Soda marketing mentality. Show all the other uses of something that almost everyone has a box of sitting around the house. Clean silver, correct the pH level in your pool, keep the freezer smelling good, brush your teeth. Oh, and make biscuits for brunch on Sunday while you enjoy your success. Just try not to become the New Coke.

  7. Oh, wow, Brad has hit the nail on the head!!!

    Every brand has multiple uses/attributes. Clarity means you decide which is MOST relevant to what you want to do, what you like to do, and what your target market needs.

    Figure out your niche and stay focused on that niche. But also figure out your value-adds. Those value-adds can be amazing differentiators that make your brand more valuable than others.

    In job search, when all major definers are relatively equal, value-adds can win the job. For Jibber Jobber, it’s decision time — what’s Jibber Jobber’s core competency, what niche needs it the most, and who else can use it? What fun to have choices 🙂

    Deb Dib, CEO Coach, and new Brad Attig fan 🙂

  8. I believe you make sales when there is “pain”. There seems to be quite a lot more “pain” when you are out of a job or wanting to leave a job or company, than in “managing your career”. Therefore being defined as a job search tool should render you more initial sales.

    If you want to be known as a career management tool, than perhaps your audience are the coaches and organizations who provide career counseling. This may be in a sense more of a “corporate” sale, where they resell your product to a well defined customer base already seeking this solution.

  9. Have fun the best you can with branding. 🙂 One thing that I recommend is calling 5 people who have never seen your web site or heard what you do. Then show them the web site over GoToMeeting without you telling them what you do. Ask them what you do (aka your value proposition). And what they think your brand represents. Make sure they only learn it from that first experience of looking at your web site.

    Then show them a few brands you think are strong (Nike, Apple, etc.). Ask them to rate from 1-to-10 those other brands and then your brand. Then ask them to state what indicates a less than 10 in your brand.

    Hopefully that will give you very pointed and actionable feedback.

    I can’t wait to see your new brand when you are done.

  10. Hi Jason!

    This is a provocative post, and it elicited terrific comments! Had I joined the conversation earlier, I would have wanted to say some things about clarity and evolution; however, others have made great points — especially Deb Dib who has provided a mini branding manifesto!

    So, at this point, I would only add my experience. Yes, I’ve had to brand and then to evolve my brand. I started out as a “career coach/retirement coach” because I was focusing on mid-life individuals who may need career guidance — but also might need to plan for the next phase of their lives (a.k.a., “retirement”). Talk about identity crisis: people just don’t get one guy doing “career” and “retirement” coaching (kind of like “job search” and “career management”)! Today, I work under the title “Life Strategist” and I’ve sharpened my brand to focus on mid-life, career-minded people who want to achieve more self direction in their careers and lives.

    My brand has essentially the same target audience, but has more clarity and enough flexibility to allow me to offer a suite of services, including career transition, personal branding, and even “retirement readiness” assessments and planning. And oh yes, it’s a blend of services that differentiates me from competitors.

    The take away? Keep fine-tuning your brand to be different from your competitors and relevant to your audience.

  11. I’ve never known someone able to re-brand their career without leaving the company. Like you say, you get known as one thing and it never goes away in that organization.

    As far as rebranding JibberJobber, can I offer my often annoying observation that perhaps part of the reason that it caught on as a job search tool and not a career management tool is that the name of the site isn’t, “CarribberCareerber” or something similar…


  12. This is another example of comments that are way better than the original post… thanks to all that added to this discussion!

    @Rand – excellent – what I’m taking from this is to differentiate between your breadth (generalization) and depth (specialization). It’s kind of hard to figure out went to go wider and when to go deeper… but I think that it’s always critical to be an expert somewhere… your comment reaffirms that!

    @Tiffany – totally agreed 🙂

    @Dan – Yep, you can’t please everyone… personal branding is a challenge and opportunity, and it is exciting to see more people concerned about their personal brand.

    @Mike – I had moved with the government about every 3 or 4 years when I was growing up, we loved going to a new school because we got to start over with no baggage! Professionally, it seems like it would be really hard to “make a break” when you need to rebrand (I did, though, cuz I got laid off :p).

    @Deb – this is awesome … !!

    @Brad – I didn’t know the history of Berkshire, but I never would have guessed they started as a cotton mill! Thanks for the advice on JibberJobber’s branding… I really like what you say and hope that current tools and future additions will make this the reality.

    @Andy – what you say is true… the solutions that solve pains should sell like hot cakes. JibberJobber helps in the pain of a job search but there are alternatives (um, 3×5 cards :p)… and I don’t want to be painted into a corner. Totally agreed on the corp sale idea… that’s where we are headed 🙂

    @Bryan – I think this is a good idea for figuring out how my current message/system communicates our brand. I tell people that they already have a personal brand, whether they like it or not… it’s true with JibberJobber too… thanks for the ideas!

    @ Walter – clarity and flexibility, I love it. All of this discussion is helping me realize that my brand(s) is fluid… not static, not an “end,” but something that can go with the flow, as needed. Not fickle… but appropriate… or as you say, relevant.

    @Dan – huh, I think “JibberJobber” has a certain roll-off-the-tongue ring to it that “CarribberCareerber” doesn’t :p ! I do recognize that this is part of the “issue”… however, here’s a question:

    Assuming we are not even launched yet we can hash and rehash this.

    But now, over a year later, with some brand equity and recognition… is it wise to rename? And if it is not, then what do we do?

  13. The answer to your question depends on your plans.

    If you’re planning a huge new initiative to get customers (and, realistically, expect to get more new customers in a short time than you have existing customers new), renaming as part of your rebrand would be worthwhile.

    If not, stick with JibberJobber. And give away a free copy of my book with every subscription. Well, free to the new customer, anyway… 😉


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