Familiarity is something every marketer craves for their brand. They want the marque they are responsible for to be known, asked for, a household name. But does icon status in and of itself guarantee anything anymore?
Everyone talks about growth and for the need to become a market leader. But once you’ve become the number one player, then what? What do you do after that to retain the lead you’ve worked so hard to get and that has now made you the target of everyone else’s aspirations?
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:
This thought-provoking presentation includes some interesting observations on the contrasting effects of brands on the world. On the one hand the Y&R planners point out, brands are responding to consumer expectations that they will drive social change, spending around $18 billion a year on charitable efforts and using their financial clout and influence to affect real change. On the other, some of the biggest brands now know more about us as consumers and individuals than government agencies and we have no real ways of knowing how they will use that information, and to what effect, going forward.
For some time now, brands have pursued difference. Spurred on initially by Jack Trout, they’ve positioned, disrupted, innovated … all with that elusive goal in mind. To stand out and stand apart from their competitors. Benefits, positioning, onions, pyramids, strategies … a lot of time and energy has been focused on helping brands achieve difference. Everyone’s been on that quest to become a Purple Cow.
Far from increasing the daylight between itself and another brand, companies that are fixated on achieving an objective can do themselves, their brands and their reputations serious harm. Pushing the wrong boundaries can push a brand over the edge. This is of course anathema to conventional management theory which has preached for some time that pushing people to excel brings out the best in them.
This article from some time back by Jagdish Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia sheds fascinating light on the business case not just for expanding brands but also shrinking them as well. According to the authors’ “Rule of Three”, the quest for scale is quite literally a race first for dominance and then for survival. But if you can’t win, don’t try.
It’s hard to develop a brand. It takes enormous effort, huge willpower, confidence, resources, patience and a thick skin. You’ll face doubt, distractions and problems. It’s gruelling …. But none of that is the toughest bit. Far from it. The most intimidating aspect is actually building a brand that consciously and clearly stands apart from everything else that is being built – everything else that is competing for the same audience you want to reach.
1. You’re less connected with your customers than you used to be, or than your competitors are. 2. Your distributors increasingly hold the relationships and the tables are turning. They’re treating you like the supplier rather than the other way around. Or they’re introducing house brands that undermine your margins. 3. You’re past your heyday. There’s a lot of talk about history and the “glory days” of the business and/or the sector. 4. You’re paying too much attention to the wrong metrics. 5. You don’t know as much about your buyers as you need to. 6. You’re increasingly focused on technical excellence at the expense of relationships. My term for this fascination is “redundant excellence”. 7. Your customer base is static. So is your market share. Everyone’s comfortable. 8. You’ve lost the spark that’s got you this far. You’ve run out of ideas. 9. You’re riding a wave (but that’s all you’re riding). 10. You’re fading. Your competitors are less intimidated by you (and less respectful of you) than they used to be. You’re being …
I regularly refer to adrenalin as the chemical of change. To me, transformation must be radical and scary, because it pretty much requires the same levels of energy and momentum to get to a ‘dangerous’ place as it does to shift to somewhere a lot more comfortable. The only difference may be the time it may take for people internally to get comfortable again. That’s particularly true if you’re a brand that has fallen behind – where the shift required to even stay alive can feel huge. And yet for all the effort, the concern, the misgivings, where your brand lands can in reality be right in the middle of the pack – meaning that sooner rather than later, the company will need to repeat the same process in order to avoid being lost. So often, it seems, those undertaking brand change misjudge impact. People assess what has happened from the point of view of how far they have shifted rather than looking at the two things that really matter: the active difference it has …