All brands get tired. After years of carrying out business, a brand grows and shrinks with time. Business life has a way of delivering body blows to a brand. Sometimes the culture changes, your audience grows up or competition erodes your positioning strategy.
Has your advertising replaced Nyquil as a sedative?
Does your message still resonate with your audience? Don’t be another company that advertises because they feel they must. Advertise because you’ve got a story to tell. Put your message where your audience is looking. Just because you or your ad agency doesn’t understand the media is no excuse to ignore its potential. Maybe it’s time to change agencies and attitudes internally.
Are you playing follow-the-leader in your category?
If you’re not the leader, you’re not trying hard enough. Branding wants you to be the leader, and if that’s not possible then come up with a new category where you can claim the leadership position. You want to eliminate alternatives. Choice may be good for customers, but it’s hell for brands. There is no room for followers here.
Is your image stuck in the 70s?
The last time your brand image excited anyone the public were arguing over the benefits of Betamax versus VHS. Nobody had a cell phone, a personal computer, or air bags for their cars. Brands have to be relevant in every way. Recognize whom you are speaking with, and direct your brand image to address this market. Relevance and consistency across all marketing is crucial.
Is your sales department just going through the motions?
The sales staff just aren’t hungry anymore. There is nothing about your brand that excites them anymore. It probably doesn’t stand for anything particularly, and nobody can explain the brand message if their job depended on it. The sad truth is; their job DOES depend on it. So does your job. You can’t blame the economy for everything except your reason to get your brand off life-support.
Are you begging your employees to take business away from you?
Are you doing your utmost to save a nickel only to create an environment where employees are just waiting for the right opportunity to jump ship or worse yet start their own business and take your best customers with them? Don’t do your brand huge long term damage by finding clever ways to shave costs at the expense of those who make you money. Now is the time to invest in better equipment and training. Position your brand for growth. Don’t add to a culture of fear, but inspire your human assets to seek out opportunities by embracing a rejuvenated brand.
Are you letting relationships with your customers slide?
This doesn’t mean you have to date anyone. Do your customers only see you as a cheap price or as a brand that is there to help them grow and become more profitable? If you are just a price to them then your brand is at its lowest. Anybody can beat your lowest price even if it means they have to buy the business. Relationships lifts a brand out of commodity hell and allows you to make more money because of what additional value your brand brings to them.
Do you market out of fear?
A brand with no positioning strategy is rudderless. Don’t just market because you can’t afford not to, but because you have a compelling message for your customers. Fear marketing is wasted money. Other than awareness, you’re not getting much value for your money.
Is invisibility your strongest brand value?
Any community enjoys seeing businesses involved with giving back to their customers. It shows that your brand sees the big picture. It shows that you consider the community important. Being part of the fabric of the community, means that your brand recognizes its stake in the community. It has plans to stay, and its priority isn’t in another locale. Take advantage of the economy to react to local culture. If you are a financial institution, and there are big layoffs locally, you could implement special payment programs that sympathize with the hardship forced on mortgage and loan holders.
If it weren’t for customers, wouldn’t business be a blast?
If you’ve lost touch with your customers, changes are they moved on also. If there is no dialog, then there’s no growth in your brand strength. Getting feedback alerts you to problems, and gives your brand, consumer insight. Your customers should be an active member of your team. If you want to see and benefit from their love, you’ve got to give first before you can receive. Regular satisfaction surveys are a good first step. How often does sales take customers for lunch to see how their businesses are doing. See what you can do to help them by coming right out and asking.
Is your brand personality grumpy?
At this point in your brand history, what would you say is the personality of your brand. To come to grips with this question, you’re going to have to picture your brand as a person walking down the street. How would you and your stake holders describe this person? That description will give you a good benchmark of how your personality fares. If the description is complimentary, then take pride in that light, but if it is negative, then take heed and realize that it is probably costing you money.
Image: Jordan Ownens / Flickr