As we start another year with all the usual wishes to do better, it’s sobering to review how your intentions from this time last year panned out. What didn’t happen, and what do those disappointments tell you about your brand and the state of your brand heading into 2016?
The intuitive answer is market share. But perhaps there’s another way of looking at this: one that is increasingly being pursued by brands with a strong purpose agenda. If your brand must be bigger than what you make, perhaps the basis on which you compete must be greater than what you can distinctly own.
In a world where popularity is the ‘it’ metric for so many marketers, have you really thought through how your brand would cope if all your wishes came true? If your brand strategy is based on building your popularity, here’s some things you might like to consider as you rush to be noticed.
Outside-in change is prompted by shifts beyond the immediate control of the brand. Those prompts could be competitive, reputational or sectoral. They could manifest in symptoms as varied as a drop in credibility, a slump in market share or a shift in profitability within a sector as a whole. Whatever the signal, these declines prompt a brand to make sometimes radical changes in a quest to re-set how it is valued by consumers and respected by rivals. One or more of four outs- usually apply:
As John Hagel has observed, the middle market is dying as market dynamics radicalise. At one end, the sectors that are scaling continue to expand footprint and influence; at the other, the long tail stretches further as the market fragments into more and more bit players fighting for a percentum of market share. This dissolution of the middle ground as a viable competitive position leaves most brands with five growth options in my opinion: three are about growing bigger; two suggest growing smaller (but heightening profit as you do so). Here’s how I map the options:
Whilst the measures for evaluating what a brand is worth are well established, those for quantifying a brand’s potential seem less so. In general, brands are valued on their residual equity (what they are associated with and the depth and competitiveness of that association), their competitive performance and how much they are assessed to be worth.
Brand will tell you a lot if you let it. How you brand, what you brand, where you’re found, who buys you and how often … these and many more questions are all things that competitive businesses ask themselves on a regular basis. I see brand as a highly effective lens for assessing the relevance and competitiveness of a company. Here are 10 ways that you can use “brand” to reveal what your business may need to change or capitalise on:
Both Jeff Swystun and Mark Ritson have taken aim at the brand industry with characteristic frankness. Whilst applauding the advances in turning brand into a recognised commercial activity, Swystun believes that an industry developed to fight commoditisation has itself succumbed to that market pressure. It has, he says, become “… highly stylized, shiny, and cool but largely standardized, prescribed and frequently devoid of substantiated benefit.” Everyone is being different in exactly the same way. Brand is today’s shiny metal object.
How do brands keep improving? If you’re already a market leader, where should you expend your energies to future-proof your business? A lot of the advice we read in the business press focuses on weaknesses and vulnerabilities and what needs to be fixed and updated. But if highlighting what isn’t working doesn’t work for your brand culture, maybe take your cues from the strengths movement and focus on further improving where you already shine.
It wasn’t that long ago that competition took place between products, and the criteria for choice between rivals was customer benefits. Product vs product. Today, for globally scaled brands, the competition is really between the reach and co-ordination of different configurations of value chains, and the criteria for choice for customers is the quality of the experiences delivered as a result.