For businesses to succeed, they must change; doing so as part of a cycle of continual improvement allows them to evolve and adapt as necessary, staying relevant to the market and customers they serve.
Brand and business development strategies are sometimes owned and managed by a single department but should always be well-known and communicated throughout all areas of the business, ensuring communications and directions taken can be done adequately, appropriately and in line with brand values as well as goals. You can read more on brand development from consumer insight champions Feefo, but first: how do you know if you need to improve yours? Keep an eye out for these sure-fire signs.
The brand is now considered immature
Businesses, like people, go through lifecycle stages. The plucky start-up begins and develops through to an efficient business model before becoming a well-established, mature company. In their infancy, brands are often permitted some mistakes and some well-intended, but misguided, decision making but as the business matures, consumers may not be as forgiving because they expect better.
If branding was put in place in a company’s infancy, it may soon need updating to remain current. It should be at least refreshed in line with the new business lifecycle stage.
Competitors are catching up
If your USP (Unique Selling Point) is becoming confused with that of competitors, or you feel that competitors are beginning to gain market share regardless of their comparable offering, it may be that the brand messaging is no longer clearly differentiating one business in the sector from another.
Businesses that are beginning to feel, or are being, threatened by emerging (or existing) competitors should refresh their branding to ensure the who, what, where, when and why of their company is clear to consumers. Competitive advantage can only be gained through consumer comprehension and without it, the business will disappear into the competitor’s shadow.
Customers are becoming less passionate about the brand
When loyal customers with whom the business has or had a profitable relationship begin to lessen their enthusiasm and advocacy for the brand, it is time to intervene. While the relationship may not be salvageable once it has begun to flounder, action should still be taken to ensure this does not happen repeatedly to other customers. Retaining customers is always less of a financial commitment than recruiting new ones and so brand advocates should be held on to at all costs.
Updating branding to ensure the company is still considered relevant and reliable by existing customers can have a huge knock-on effect on the recruitment of new customers, too.
People’s perceptions of the brand are wrong or outdated.
Markets change, businesses change, and so do customers. As a business’ products, services, and other offerings develop, it may be that consumer perceptions and understanding of what the company does is no longer up-to-date. Becoming known as the ‘go-to’ company for a certain product or service is hugely beneficial, but must update and evolve with time to stay appropriate. Marketing and communication must remain clear, concise and engaging enough that consumers notice – and interact with – it.
To match up consumer perceptions with a business correctly, branding may need refreshing to ensure current offerings are prominently and clearly communicated.
You’ve changed direction.
Colgate was once best known for its soap, American Express used to offer postal services, Avon started as a book store and Suzuki made loom machines. As businesses change direction so too should their branding – after all, the marketing that worked for Avon’s books won’t work for their toiletries.
Refreshing branding to matching a change of business direction or pivot doesn’t necessarily require a new name or massive change but should be updated to reflect what the business does now rather than what it did in the past.
When businesses look to refresh their branding, they must consider the purpose of the refresh as well as its perception to consumers. Ask yourself:
- What elements of the current branding can remain consistent with the new brand?
- Is this different enough from the current branding that it will be a noticeable change (if appropriate)?
- Is this close enough to the current branding that it will be recognizable as the same business?
- Does the new branding accurately reflect the current state of the business?
- Does the new branding feel like ‘us’?
There is no need to fully rebrand or take a vastly new direction every time something changes or is achieved. However, a refresh or update can keep a brand current, relevant, and audience-appropriate. It should always demonstrate to consumers why they should work with or buy from you instead of your competitor.