Last week Kanye West changed his name to Ye. Not only was Ye his surname, but also his 2018 album title. The music celebrity is currently divorcing his wife Kim Kardashian. Although he does invoke the religious influence of his name change, the fact is there seems to be a need for him not only to turn the page but to rip it off — and that’s okay.
Businesses too, go through transitions. It is merely a part of life. Sometimes, brushing everything off and starting new shows resilience.
In this article, we’ll talk about business identity and signs your business might – like Kanye West – require a new one.
Sign 1 – You underwent a car accident
The first sign your business needs a new identity is it has undergone tough times.
On the 23rd of October 2002, Kanye West survived a traumatizing car accident. His jaw got fractured in three different spots, and he struggled to recover from it. So he was advised to go to Pain Control Clinic in QC Kinetix (Charleston) for his fast recovery and proper medication. After only 2 weeks however, he decided to record a song. Yes, that one : Through the Wire. He even says in the lyrics:
“I really apologize for everything right now If it’s unclear at all, man They got my mouth wired shut For like… I dunno, the doctor said like six weeks”
Kanye West placed that song as the first of his first solo album The College Dropout.
Now, as a business, what can you take-away?
Your business might have suffered hard times (downglows, scandals…) and not only do you need to lift that spirit up, you must also reassure your customers and investors by giving out a confident image.
Kanye West almost died from this accident. However, instead of patiently waiting to recover, and starting recording his first album later on, he jumped on the bandwagon and used this trauma to share his unique perspective.
Thus: do not wait for the media or your customers to make up their own opinion about you. Show them the light in which you want to be seen.
Concretely, this means diving right in through the scandal: take a stand, share an opinion, show resilience. When somebody gives a hit to your business identity, stating you are not who you say you are because you cannot or did not do what was expected of you, show them it is merely the opposite. Show that despite whatever situation is facing you, you have the means and the will to outsmart it and turn it to your advantage.
Sign 2 – You were accused of plagiarism
The second sign your business might require an update in its identity is your business identity is not clearly defined or, worse, it is too similar to that of your competitors.
In 2011, Kanye West was accused of plagiarising the movie Enter the World in his video clip All the Lights. One could argue the video clip itself is pretty unique. The typography, the design, and the final output, quite extravagant, suit the music perfectly. Yet, he was accused of plagiarism due to the first sequence.
Undergoing scandals such as a plagiarism case would, itself, require a restructuring of your business identity (as we saw in sign 1). However, merely noticing your business does not really differentiate itself in terms of identity from the competition in your field, can be a game changer.
Business identity is not just a marketing terminology made up to sound smart in conferences. It is the sine qua non condition to success. Consciously or unconsciously, your customers will associate your business with a certain feeling or opinion. If you do not find a way to make a difference in terms of communication and, more largely, in terms of identity, your business will soon be replaced or, in the best case, stick to its achievements.
When your business identity is too close to that of another business, it might be time to start reshaping it.
Sign 3 – Your last album is darker than the previous ones
The third sign your business needs a shift in its identity is when it has been taken for granted by its customers.
In 2013, Kanye West released a surprising album: Yeezus. The album reflected a complete change in the artist’s perspective, as it was much darker than the previous ones. Kanye West managed to shock everyone with a mix of genres going from punk to hip hop along with new wave vibes.
At the time, Kanye West was already pretty popular. Yet he was taken for granted by his public. Offering a new identity – or at least a new side to his yet established identity, enabled him to grow his fanbase and place himself even higher socially and artistically.
When your business identity is taken for granted by your customers, you observe that even though your customer base doesn’t reduce, it doesn’t grow either. This is when you must reaffirm your business identity by showing a certain form of novelty.
You must demonstrate that your business is able to renew itself and appeal to a larger customer base. In this situation, you do not have to completely reshape your whole business identity. However a few changes or specifications would be welcomed.
They can be as small as a shift in the tone of your voice on social networks or as big as a redesign of your website.
Sign 4 – Your future name was already announced
The fourth sign is maybe the most straightforward. Does your business have an identity? No? Then get it one.
Kanye West released in 2018 the album that would, three years later, share his only name. Fans, friends, colleagues and family already knew Kanye West as Ye. However, the world only knew Ye as Kanye West.
The analogy I am making here is the following: you might know who your business is. You might even have a pretty clear idea of what it is not. However, what you have in your head is not necessarily what shows through from an external perspective.
Thus, if your business doesn’t have a clear identity yet, then you must give it one. You can test the feelings and opinions you trigger by asking your customer base, clients or even strangers about it. Ask them what your logo or your social media posts inspire them, how they make them feel, and would they enjoy following this type of content (if they’re strangers) or if they do (if they are customers).
If you find your business lacks a clear and set identity, you must start rethinking your strategy. In order to shape an identity, you must give your business a personality. Think about it: if they were a person, how would they talk, react and share their products or services?
There, you have the basis of a working marketing strategy.
Sign 5 – You changed perspective on life
The last sign your business needs a new identity is because you are no longer the business you used to be.
After several shifts, Kanye West released in 2019 the album Jesus is King. This album marks a consequent change. Contrary to the mix of genres we saw in Yeezus, Jesus is King is a full gospel album, which is by the way, more congruent with his new identity as Ye.
If your website, products, services, or anything consequent have been changed in your strategy and have had a severe impact on your business, you must change your business identity. Regardless how big or how small the changes were, if they had an impact on your business identity, you must redefine it.
Change is scary, but when you decide to take the leap, you must go through with it. In this case, it means adapting your business identity in order for it to be a better fit for your business and communication strategy.
Kanye West’s life until now has been a huge battle within himself to define his identity. Since the artist struggles with bipolar disorder and must also bear the downsides of notoriety that go along with his career, he has had to change his public identity several times. Today, he has come to a compromise by adopting as a legal name his surname Ye.
Whether you know and like Kanye West or not, some business insights arose from his own way of managing his business which is his identity itself. Thus, you can use the artist’s highs and lows to decide whether or not you too should shorten your business name from Kanye to Ye.
Who knows, maybe DOZ.COM is also undergoing this tough process…