As published by The Gaston Gazette:
(2/28/16) BELMONT, N.C. – Your brand is the essence of your business. Far more than a logo and tagline, it’s the embodiment of all the information connected to your product, service or company and the message that resonates with your audiences. It’s how people respond, react and feel about your brand that determines what your brand actually is.
But like everything else, brands have to adapt to changing times; they have to evolve to stay competitive. If your message no longer reaches your target audience on either an emotional or intellectual level, it’s time to hit refresh. There’s no set timetable; it’s not a matter of when, but why your brand needs to change. Here are five signs that it may be time for a brand revamp:
- Your audience doesn’t “get” it. Your messaging and image simply aren’t on your target audience’s radar. Maybe your audience doesn’t understand your value proposition or maybe there’s been a change in your business strategy that conflicts with the message you’re sending. Whatever the case, when there’s no clear understanding of what you stand for, you’re invisible in the marketplace.
- There’s a misperception in identity. You might consider yourself the Die Hard of your industry, tough and reliable, but your audience may see you as more of a Sherlock Holmes … more intellectual, but still a force to be reckoned with. If your brand ambassadors (your employees, customers who provide referrals, marketing and advertising materials) are disconnected from how your customers really see you, there’s a misperception issue. What you assume your customer values and what they actually value may not match. To quote Intuit’s Scott Cook, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
- There’s been a shift in your strategies or priorities. Perhaps you were once the only company in your area offering a particular service or product and you built your brand around that advantage. But the marketplace evolved and now your competitors have caught up to you. New technologies may have emerged to diminish what was once your big selling point. Or maybe you’re targeting millennials now instead of baby boomers. If your business has a shift in strategies or priorities, your current branding must reflect your new objectives.
- Times have changed, but your brand hasn’t. In 2008, the No. 2 electronics retailer in the nation, Circuit City, filed for bankruptcy. Why? It failed to adapt to a rapidly evolving marketplace and changing consumer habits, thus paving the way for its chief competitor, Best Buy, to snap up its disillusioned customers. The flip side of the coin is Apple, a master of reinvention. Kirk Seton of Signet Design notes, “When Apple Computer realized that there was a future for the company beyond computers, their name became restrictive, but by rebranding to just Apple the possibilities were suddenly endless.” The lesson here is never to be complacent. You must keep your finger on the pulse of your audience’s desires and always be ready to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace.
- Sink or swim. In some cases, rebranding is forced on your business due to negative events, poor consumer feedback or bad press. Either your brand fully embraces a big change or your business sinks. But this could be a good thing. Take Domino’s Pizza, for example. In late 2009, the company heeded critics and openly admitted its pizza just wasn’t that good. Determined to recover, the company dropped “pizza” from its name (to highlight growing menu options), improved its recipes, refreshed its logo and locations, and began actively catering to a growing carryout market versus delivery. According to Investopedia, Domino’s net income grew 19.4% for the second quarter of 2015 over the previous year’s Q2 period. That’s swimming with gusto.
What your brand means and whom it motivates is defined daily in the mind of each customer by your input, your service, your employees, your products, your competitor’s messages and shifts in the world around us. Brands must therefore grow and change shape, or face decay. Today’s consumers are smart, sophisticated and plugged in. Is your value proposition ringing true to them? Are you consistently delivering your message across all platforms – in-store, web, social media, advertising, brand ambassadors, etc. – in a manner that resonates with them? If your bottom line is dwindling and your competitors are gaining ground, ask yourself if any of the above “whys” apply. It may be time to revitalize your brand.
Lyerly Agency’s President and CEO Elaine Lyerly and Executive Vice President and COO Melia Lyerly share their 35+ years of marketing, advertising, public relations and brand strategy experience with readers each month in a column published by The Gaston Gazette.