New companies with fresh branding are popping up everywhere and classic logos are being redesigned for the modern era. It’s hard to know whether or not your own logo should stay put. I wrote earlier about what branding is and isn’t. So if you already have a logo, how do you know when it’s time to change it?

That’s a complicated and nuanced question, so I created an easy flowchart to give you a general idea of where your business is and how your logo is working for you.

The first question is a little too obvious but it has to be asked: before you consider changing your current branding, do you have branding? As in, a logo, brand colors, specific fonts, and imagery you consistently use to represent your business? If you have to think about it, unfortunately the answer is you need to go back to the drawing board.

Another question that’s just as important: was your branding handled professionally? A $25 dollar logo from the internet will certainly work to stamp your emails and as a social media avatar, until your printer tells you your logo isn’t high enough quality to print. What can you do then? Or, worse yet, you see one of your competitors basically has the same logo because they got it from the same internet logo factory. Stuff of nightmares.

When you pay a professional, experienced designer, you’re not only guaranteed a quality logo that truly reflects your business (and only your business), but you’re also paying for customer service when your graphics aren’t behaving the way you want them to and you’re at a loss.

If you have those bases covered, you can be confident your branding is off to a solid start.

This is where the conversation gets a little more specific to where your business is currently. In all honesty, if you’re just starting and you have a solid logo, give it the chance to earn some legs. The true test of any logo or branding is time; if it still looks good and speaks to who you are as a company a few years down the road, you had an excellent designer who served you well.

If your business has been around for a few years, take a step back and take stock of what you’ve accomplished, and just as importantly, where you’d like to go. Perhaps you’ve hit all your goals for this year and are more than content to grow slowly, taking time to on board employees that fit the culture well and giving every aspect of your business as much attention as possible. It’s who you are and how your business has gotten this far.

Or, perhaps now that you’ve gotten your feet wet, you see an abundant number of opportunities to spread your business out. Maybe there’s a new product or service line you’d like to add, or there’s a different target customer you’d like to angle for. Both of those are excellent reasons to take a hard look at your brand and make sure it still serves those purposes.

If you’ve made it this far, you might be an established business that’s been around for more than a handful of years. You know who you are, what you’re about, why and who your customers are. You can list off your services and products in your sleep and so can your employees. You also know where you’re headed down the road and have a plan of how to achieve it.

My question to you: is your branding consistent at every single touch point? Over the years, you may have used a few different marketing companies and/or designers, things tend to get mixed up in the shuffle. Even in the same office! It may be time to revisit the state of your branding.

The final question is most relevant for the established business but is applicable to any business at any stage. Any time a core aspect of your business changes, whether it’s your actual product or service, who your customers are, or what your long term goals are is the right time to review whether your logo and branding still matches up with your business. Your logo represents you when you’re not there. It should speak well of you and to the needs that you meet.

And hey, if you hired a designer at the beginning and you enjoyed working with them, there’s no rule that you have to hire someone different for a new logo or rebrand. You won’t hurt their feelings, I promise. They’ll be flattered you came back, and you won’t have to break them in like a new designer since they were with you the whole time.

So if you’re considering rebranding, it’s best to have a solid reason. That can be your old logo was poorly done, you’re ready to expand your market, or something core to your business has changed.