We’re in the business of branding and rebranding. We find business owners all over the spectrum from, “I would never change my brand.” to “I like to stay current and my brand is a fluid concept.” I like to say, “All of us, whether we like it or not are in the image business. Some people just do it better than others.”
First let me clarify what I mean by “brand”. It is often mistaken for a company logo. A logo is not a brand. Logos, taglines and campaigns are expressions of the brand. A brand encompasses all of those things and far beyond. A brand is your complete connection with your customers. I would argue a brand is everything relating to your product/service, how you deliver and how your clients feel about both of those things. A brand has equity, positive or negative, which provides a direct correlation to your company’s level of competitive advantage.
You may have established a brand, developed positive brand equity and now are enjoying the fruits of your labor. But time marches on. Is your brand marching on or is it being left behind? Here are my thoughts on five signs your brand is probably due for an overhaul:
Chances are your business services and products have morphed over time. An entrepreneur sees a need and fills it. It’s what we do, but we learn a lot over time and we respond to the changes in our client’s needs. That’s why we’re still around. But did you start out as a dog groomer and find that 80% of your profit comes from kennel services? Did you start out as a house cleaner only to morph into an on-site construction clean up service? Is your brand, logo and promise still trapped around a dying product or service?
Alignment with Vision
Some businesses are started from inspiring vision. Others are born out of a negative intention such as “I’ll never work for anyone else again.” Sometimes the vision that got you started is not the vision that gets you up each day excited to cut payroll checks. Whether your vision has changed or was just born your brand should reflect your true intention as a company.
Are you walking into a cocktail party in 2015 wearing a bouffant? Are your brand colors the same as your wedding palette? Are you still using tri-fold brochures? Does your grandmother think your company is “cool”? Instant legitimacy is earned when a brand stays current. You don’t need to be trendy, but small refreshes are needed on logo, color, copy, websites, business cards, etc. each year or two. That is what keeps you from having to go from a bouffant to a hipster coiffe overnight. If you haven’t kept up, chances are you’re looking at just ripping off the bandage instead of the slow peel back.
With loyalty the first suspect is that the client simply doesn’t come back. But that is only half of the story. They may come back out of habit, but the loyalty question is really, “Are they happy to come back?” What are the criteria you would use to determine tried and true loyalty and can you think of one evangelist for your business who is not in your immediate family? If someone wanted to be a loyal customer have you made a clear path for them? Does your brand language set the expectation that they could be singing your praises? If you are delivering a quality product or service most clients would be more loyal if they knew it was important to you.
Out of Sync
Sometimes companies change so much over time that they bear little resemblance to the first version. This can especially be true with technology companies, but each industry has their own standards of modernity. Does your brand look like you are playing at the highest level of your own industry or does it appear totally out of touch with the current market place? We talk with clients about not taking cues from competitors as much as looking within to understand their correct place in the market. Does your brand place you in the market with your best foot forward?
If too many of these hit home for you it might be time for a look under that hood. Time to make an appointment with a brand repair shop? We’d love to run some diagnostics and get your brand engine revving again.