After more than twenty years of combining forces, we’ve found ways to seamlessly blend the analytical with the creative to produce effective results for our clients. It’s entirely understandable that this is not usually a process that can be done by one sole entrepreneur wearing all these various hats. This is why many of our clients come to us for help in this area.
Often times we’ve found that business owners are too close to their own brand to objectively assess if it’s resonating with the target consumer, and returning the love. Whether you’re a long-time entrepreneur looking to shake things up a bit (Richard Branson
, we’ve got you) or a newly minted Corona-preneur
, we’ve donned our strategic thinking caps and created one condensed branding guide.
Signs your brand might need a refresh
For those who have been running a prosperous business for many years, it probably doesn't occur to anyone to stop and think about a brand refresh. That’s usually the last thing on people’s minds when business is good, until there’s a shift.
It can be an internal change, like the sales numbers are down, or something external like, say, a global pandemic that rocks the proverbial boat. It’s also important to refresh one’s brand when the competitive landscape has changed to ensure you’re up to par with the rest. Perhaps your industry has boomed in the last six months, as it has for fitness brands like Peloton with at-home workouts. And if your product or service offerings have pivoted to adapt to one of these kinds of changes, then your branding also needs to be tweaked to ensure everything is aligned.
Whatever the reasons, you’ve taken the first step by picking up the magnifying glass to look at your brand with a close eye. Here are a few important steps that one should take when reevaluating how efficient one’s brand truly is.
Consider a Logo Refresh
When was the last time you updated your logo, if ever? Successful brands' logos evolve over time, and quite often we find that many clients are still using the very same logo they first started their company with. It’s easy to have personal bias towards one’s first-born.
But as services and products change, along with evolving consumer behaviors, businesses need to think objectively about their branding and if the logo is still relevant. The old adage – This logo is what my customers associate with my brand
– just doesn't cut it anymore. In reality, that’s an internalized concept. It doesn’t have to be a literal representation, but it does need to make sense in the big picture for the type of company you are currently and want to be in the future.
Take mega-brand Apple as just one example. If you see the original logo (think baroque and busy) Steve Jobs used when he launched the company in 1976, it is a drastically different from the iconic one they changed it to a year later. That logo has carried them through the decades, with some small tweaks along the way. Had he been ‘married’ to the original logo, the brand may not have been as scalable or iconic.
Look at Consumer Engagement
Are our customers actively engaged with our brand?
Whatever your business may be, we are all marketing to someone. The obvious indicator that customers aren’t engaged is the fact that sales are down, but there are other subtle signs that are important to look at as well. Are your followers on social media engaging with your posts? Do your email subscribers open your weekly communications or just delete them? Is there any feedback on your website or other third-party review sites from past customers that can be learned from? All of this is valuable information in determining where to put the focus when inviting your consumers to engage with the brand.
We’ve found that one main reason engagement declines is that consumers are not emotionally connected to the brand. Truly great ones evoke an emotional response as part of their brand promise, leading to enthusiasm and repeat customers. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them for this feedback regularly, either on social media or in a survey, to show that the brand is one that wants to hear from its customers, cares about them, and is willing to make changes to meet their needs.
Is everyone within your organization aligned on the extrinsic and intrinsic brand constructs? After looking at some external factors like the company logo and consumer engagement, it’s time to go inward with an internal brand audit. Getting feedback from your employees, partners and stakeholders is just as important as the feedback you receive from customers. Everyone needs to have a clear understanding of the brand foundations and be able to champion them day in and day out.
One starting point is making sure that the brand reflects your core values and still has a brand promise that can be delivered upon. From there, look at refining your company’s unique selling proposition – the main benefit that consumers get from choosing your product or service over that of a competitor.
The internal audit should also include a review of all communications, seeing if there are any inconsistencies across digital and traditional touch points. There need to be guidelines created, if there aren’t already, to ensure everyone within the organization abides by them. This will cover branding across all platforms, from a simple storefront sign to how the brand voice and image are conveyed in social media.
Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to detach themselves enough from their brand in order to properly evaluate it, and that's understandable. It’s their love child that they created themselves, and brought into this consumer-driven world. That’s why engaging a trusted branding agency can help bring the required objectivity needed to pinpoint areas for improvement, and course correct the brand strategy for the long run.
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