With the visibility the topic of branding receives today, you may be starting to think more about your own brand. Are you growing your brand? Is it working for you? Is it time to invest in a round of brand development or consider a brand refresh?
Well hold on: A full-on brand development or brand refresh project is a big deal, not to be entered into on a whim. It will require a commitment – probably a significant one – of money, time and that most precious commodity, faith. There are tools and procedures which can help you determine the state of your brand. But there also are clues, admittedly unscientific but easy to spot, which may indicate that, yes, now is the time to focus on brand development. Many of the clues are related, so they’ll usually crop up in bunches.
If your answer is “yes” to more than a couple of these questions, this could be the right time to seriously consider a new brand development initiative.
1. Have you lost market position?
If your company was number one 10 years ago and number three now, there may be a number of things to fix. Tinkering around the edges won’t get your back to the top spot. Start with your brand.
2. Are your marketing investments delivering diminishing returns?
You’ve done media advertising, email marketing, direct mail, SEO and programmatic. You’ve deployed a social media team and invested in CRM and new collateral. But no matter how much you spend, you get just about the same results. Sure, the world of media is changing. But could the big problem be your message? New executions and new media won’t fix it. Time to pay attention to your brand.
3. Has your senior management restructured?
Brand development begins at the top of the hierarchy and is a corporate initiative, not a marketing initiative. When there’s a lot of change at the top in senior management, there’s bound to be some confusion in the ranks. A strong brand development process is a great way to get your entire team on the same page.
4. Has your company turned 20 years old?
Over the years we’ve seen that a high percentage of established companies that decide to reexamine their brand are about 20 years old. Why? Sometimes at about the 20-year mark many companies find they’ve lost their focus. Or perhaps the market has shifted, or technology has transformed their industry. Or there’s been a big change in senior management. Maybe it’s like the 17-year locust or the seven-year itch. But I’m guessing that if your company is about 20 years old, some of the other ten clues are making themselves evident.
5. Do your employees live your brand?
Your brand is your promise to your customer. It must be communicated and delivered upon every time someone comes in contact with your business. Is your management team solidly on board and do your staff members understand its importance?
6. Are you dissatisfied with your logo?
Everyone gets tired of their logo at some point, just like we get tired of the same old clothes. In most cases you’re probably best advised to leave it alone (the logo, not the wardrobe). But if your logo doesn’t seem to fit who you are, and you don’t quite know why, it’s time to ask yourself what your brand is all about. And you’d best figure it out before you redesign the logo.
7. Are you dissatisfied with your name?
Your name is kind of like your logo; if it doesn’t fit, you need to know why. Funny thing, in the course of brand development you may decide it makes sense to retain your name, but you’ll find yourself becoming a company that it better suits.
8. Has there been change in the business strategy?
Your brand strategy is the “face” of your business strategy. It almost goes without saying that a significant change in business strategy should provoke a long, hard look at your brand.
9. Have you acquired new companies or shed divisions?
When your company acquires new ones or divides, it may mean a shift in business strategy. Or it may not. Regardless, it may mean you’ve left your brand behind.
10. Has your revenue growth stalled?
If your category is dying, you can’t necessarily blame poor performance on your brand. But if your sales growth doesn’t match your category’s growth – and it hasn’t in a while – it could be time to overhaul your brand.
11. Has your market changed around you?
Lots of new players, new developments and new customers in your market? Your brand may be well-positioned to take advantage of emerging circumstances. Or not.
For most successful companies, working on brand building – understanding it, delivering on it, communicating it, measuring it – is an all-the-time thing. Organizations that have a strong brand value invest time, dedicate programs and allocate resources to that effort. If your organization has a clear vision of your brand and is acting on it, you probably haven’t read this entire post. If you have, you’ve probably found yourself nodding yes to a few of the clues.
So where does your company stand? Is your brand healthy or unhealthy? Do you devote the necessary resources to building and maintaining a strong brand? It may be time to figure it out.
About the Author
As founder and CEO of BrandSavants, Russ provides uncommonly strategic business and brand development capabilities. He is also a managing partner of The Brand Establishment, an association of agencies whose owners are Certified Brand Strategists.
At BrandSavants, we transform organizations by elevating the brand conversation. That catapults our clients' thinking which grows brand value and increases worth.