Brand Audits – How to Use One to Grow Your Profits

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the headlines. This one from Bloomberg pretty well sums up the lot: “Snoopy, Loved as Friend, Lacking as Leader, Gets Boot at MetLife.”[1]

 

Yes, after a 30-year run, MetLife is dropping Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. If you’re wondering why a company would break up a winning partnership and transform a brand that has worked for three decades, you’ve come to the right place.

 

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While the decision to drop the iconic dog and his cartoon friends may seem capricious, you’ll see that, in fact, this is the case of a company that understands the critical connection between its brand and its business decisions. Markets change, new trends emerge, disruptive competitors alter long-standing rules and customer preferences evolve — all of which impacts your brand and consequently your business strategy.

 

Regardless of their size, companies that are trying to stay relevant, keep growing, expand their customer base, maintain high recognition and recall and convert awareness into greater familiarity are constantly wrestling with questions about their brands. And the most effective way to answer those critical questions is through a brand audit; see one of our previous posts entitled “Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One.”

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this important? Consider the findings in the 11th annual Accenture Global Pulse Survey: Once you lose a customer, 68% will not come back.[2] If better brand management can help retain more of those customers, then you need to invest the time, the thought and the effort into ensuring that your brand is delivering. And a brand audit is one of the most effective tools to measure and evaluate your brand performance.

 

 

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton

 

 

What’s in a Brand, and Why Brand Audits are Key to Growing Profits

 

If you want to evaluate your brand in terms of its capacity to deliver profits or return on investment (ROI), it pays to be ruthless in your analysis. In other words, take a page out of Forbes and its technique for assessing the value of a brand.[3] When compiling its annual list of Most Valuable Brands, the magazine’s analysts focus on the numbers — not “fuzzy consumer surveys” — and the ability of the top brands to generate revenue.

 

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Image via livesicilia.it

 

In 2016, Apple again takes the Number 1 spot with Forbes estimating the brand’s value at $154.1 billion — definitely a brand worth polishing. If your brand is worth even a fraction of that, you can see why your brand deserves more diligent attention. And even if it’s not there yet, you can appreciate the potential, which makes a brand audit an invaluable tool for brand growth. Any asset with this much value (or potential value) is worth caring for with a regular health check.

 

 

And Speaking of Brand Value…

The findings of The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s survey indicate that 75% of marketers consider their brand value and positioning when making any major business decisions. However, respondents also acknowledged weak follow-through and a lower brand experience for customers when management, employees and customers fail to understand and/or appreciate the brand’s role in the business.

 

Takeaway: A brand audit is not a fluffy light weight marketing exercise. It’s a strategic tool capable of giving you valuable insight into aligning your branding with your business decisions, and needs to be understood by management and employees alike.

 

 

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Image via The Chartered Institute of Marketing exchange.cim.co.uk

 

 

 

Case Study: MetLife. Navigating Life Together

 

 

This video from the Wall Street Journal captures clips from MetLife’s long association with Snoopy. But in its October 20, 2016 press release, MetLife global CMO Esther Lee explained the decision to move away from Snoopy and the Peanuts gang: “We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant…as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”[4]

 

 

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Image via MetLife

 

 

Today, MetLife is in the middle of a significant corporate realignment. It’s spinning off its domestic retail life insurance business in the United States to focus more on group life insurance sales and international business operations. Consequently the old logo must give way to a more corporate and international style reflective of its changed positioning:

 

 

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Image via MetLife

 

 

But a rebranding of this magnitude, the decision to drop the cartoon characters, create a new logo, and change the tagline are only part of the process. It’s the result of a thorough analysis and understanding of the brand —in terms of the company, its competition and its customers and prospects.

 

 

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Image via MetLife

 

 

You face many important tasks as you begin a rebranding process — potential pitfalls and mistakes as well. To help you prepare, download our free report, “Top 20 Rebranding Mistakes to Avoid.” Sign up with your name and email address, and we’ll send you a copy.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You In Need of a Brand Audit?

A total rebrand or brand refresh is only one reason to consider a brand audit as a place to start when determining if your brand is performing. Listed below are key business reasons for conducting a brand health check…and why your brand may not be delivering significant profits:

  • Losing market share to your competition in your industry or product segment
  • Your business or organizational focus has changed
  • Poor performance in online search, no longer landing on page one with Google or insufficient impact in digital media
  • Numerous business changes coupled with endeavours along the way to adjust your brand may have undermined your brand identity and created confusion both in your customers’ minds and amongst your internal team and stakeholders alike
  • Your sales are declining and your marketing strategy is not delivering the required results
  • When questioned about your brand, customers and prospects seem to have little or no brand recognition and low brand recall

 

 

Brand Audits Help You Grow Profits

When you conduct a brand audit effectively, driven by clear objectives, you can:

  • Pump fresh interest into your brand
  • Present a more consistent (and stronger) identity aligned more closely with the goals of the business
  • Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so you can identify what to build on and what to work on, or eliminate and where to improve performance
  • Gain a greater understanding of your customers — what they like, what they need and what they want from you and what they don’t like — and how your business and your brand can better meet their needs
  • Take advantage of the brand audit process to build greater communication internally across the company (with employees and partners) and externally (with customers, prospects, general public and target markets)

 

For additional resources and tips, check out our article “Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know.”

 

 

Start Your Brand Audit with Well-Articulated Objectives

Start your brand audit with a thorough understanding of what you want to accomplish. What are your objectives? Are you trying to determine why your market share is dropping? Do you need greater insight into how to reposition your company going forward? Are you trying to build a recent acquisition or change in direction into your brand image and messaging? Do you need to convert customer or prospect awareness into stronger brand familiarity? Do you need to measure sentiment for your brand in the marketplace?

 

Even if your brand is performing reasonably well, avoid complacency at all costs — now is the time to give it a health check to prevent any downward turn so you can leverage it more strongly to accelerate your profit growth.

 

While you’re thinking about these and other questions, take a look at our step-by-step brand audit ecourse. If you want to give your brand a health check yourself, our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme can help you with an under-performing brand, a routine brand health check or a comprehensive analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses and growth opportunities.

 

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By keeping your focus squarely on your objective(s) you’ll end up with a report, a set of recommendations and a blueprint for going forward that is an actionable document that will help you make the right decisions. You’ll come away with a strategy and a starting point for developing the necessary marketing tactics.

 

 

Elements of Your Brand Audit Methodology

There are many ways to audit your brand, and not all audits will require every possible type of analysis. In fact no two brand audits are exactly the same. The depth and scale of a brand audit is dependent on your objectives, resources and timelines. Your questions will help you determine your choice of methodologies and the metrics.

 

Takeaway: There is no right or wrong brand audit…only the one that gets you the information and answers you need to make the right decisions going forward so you can accelerate your growth.

 

 

Here Are 6 Keys Steps and Questions to Get You Started With Your Brand Audit:

 

Step 1: How does your brand align with your target market?

 

With your basic questions in hand, you can begin the research phase of your brand audit.[5] You’ll need to collect a lot of background information: Google and Bing searches are a good place to start. You can also hire a professional to conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry. And in addition to visiting your competitors’ websites and social sites, you can collect competitive intelligence through resources such as Hoovers, Dun & Bradstreet, SimilarWeb and Alexa. Some of the topics you’ll want to research:

  • Market Intelligence: Market niche, target audience
  • Company Information: Mission, vision and Unique Selling Proposition (USP), sales trends, customer support results, logos and brand image documents, brand collateral material
  • Industry Insight: Industry trends, competition (who are they and how do they compare in terms of price, support, customer experience, product offerings?)

 

 

Step 2: Does your brand deliver on your business objectives? Market intelligence? And industry insight?

 

With the raw data in hand, you need to assess your brand image, message and actions in the context of your company, your products, your market and the industry. How effective is your brand? Is a weak brand resulting in business being left on the table? Are you losing to stronger, more recognized brands? Do your employees, customers and prospects align with your brand? Can they articulate what your brand stands for and what makes it different to your competitors?

 

  • Discuss the your brand internally with management and employees
  • Query customers and prospects with online polls, phone surveys and email questionnaires

 

 

Case Study: The IKEA Brand Starts With Its Customers’ Needs

 

The IKEA Group reminds us that both good business ideas and good branding starts with a thorough understanding of customers and their needs. In “The Story of How We Work,” IKEA has turned the story of how they deliver the right products at the right prices with the right corporate culture into the brand.

 

 

ikea-brand-vision Image via IKEA

 

 

Takeaway: Using digital illustration to sketch the business process reinforces the how-to and DIY aspects of the IKEA brand. The fact that the story comes full circle—back to the customer—proves that people and their needs are always central to the business and the brand.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: What’s your SWOT?

 

Conduct a SWOT-type analysis of your brand to identify and list your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

  • What are the best assets associated with your brand — e.g. visual, message, trust? These are strengths you can leverage
  • What are your weaknesses and liabilities — e.g. negative press, limited recognition, small audience? Not only do you need to know about any downsides you need to decide if liabilities can be turned around or offset
  • Where are your opportunities — e.g. new or untapped audiences, new products well positioned in the market, potential market disruptors? Once identified you can consider the strategy and tactics that will enable you to take maximum advantage of opportunities
  • Where are the threats — e.g. new competitors, changing market trends, next-generation technology, challenger brands? Once you know the threats, you can develop ways to mitigate their impact

 

 

Case Study: Burberry Leverages its Origins

 

When Angela Ahrendts joined Burberry in 2006 as its new CEO, she and then Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey focused on new and innovative ways to leverage their strength. Burberry asked, “What do we have that they [the competition] don’t?”

 

 

burberry-brand-provenanceImage via Burberry

 

Takeaway: Burberry went back to its strong roots: British origins and the iconic trench coat. With this insight, the implementation was simply a matter of using creativity in presentation, social media, music and models to build a brand that worked in the 21st century.

 

 

 

 

Step 4: What’s the brand recognition and recall factor for your visual elements, your messaging and your actions?

 

Questionnaires, polls and one-on-one conversations will help you understand how effectively your brand is connecting with customers and prospective customers. This is a somewhat subjective process — since you’re relying on people to tell you honestly what they think. It will, however, help you understand the associations and awareness surrounding your brand. Ask customers and prospects about all aspects of your brand, including:

 

 

 

Step 5: Is your social presence aligned with your mission, vision and business objectives?

 

Given the strong digital presence of most marketing today, you may want to do a social media audit to determine if your brand comes through loud and clear and consistently and congruently on all your social platforms. For example:

 

  • Do you have a consistent brand image and congruent messaging across all your social sites?
  • Is your website’s user experience consistent with the brand experience you want for customers and prospects?
  • Are you taking full advantage of the features and strengths of each social platform to best position your brand while maintaining consistency?

 

 

Step 6: What’s your traffic analysis?

 

You’ve asked customers and prospects for their opinions about your brand. By measuring online behaviour you can separate what people say from what they actually do and how they respond to your digital brand marketing?

 

  • Are the number of visits to your website, social sites, digital ads increasing?
  • How many unique views do you have each month?
  • How many are return visits?
  • Are your Likes growing along with sales?
  • What’s your bounce rate? Are people spending more time on your sites? Are they downloading lead generating brand collateral?
  • How many conversions do you have? Are people clicking through, responding to your call to action and/or buying?

 

 

An Inspiration and Reminder to Think Different

In 1997, Steve Jobs had just returned to Apple, and one of his first tasks was to rescue the brand. After several years of confusion and poor management, Apple products and the brand itself had declined and the company faced the possibility of failure.

 

In this video, Steve Jobs explains his plan to revive the business and the brand by focusing not on speeds and feeds (features) but the value of human innovation and positioning Apple as the company that understood, respected and supported those among us who Think Different.

 

 

 

 

Jobs’ explanation, serves as our reminder to focus our brand audits on our strengths and our customers. We increase our chances of succeeding when our brand audits bring us in touch with our strengths and our customers’ needs and help us put both in the context of our industry, our target markets and business objectives. Writing in Forbes in 2013, Columbia University professor Panos Mourdoukoutas explained brand value: “Those attributes must ‘seduce’ the consumer’s mind, address genuine consumer anxieties and emotions — and be innovative.”[6]

 

 

Five Tips for Using Your Next Brand Audit Health Check to Increase Your Profits and Grow Your Business

 

  1. Business decisions and brand go hand-in-hand. Tie any significant changes in the business (e.g., acquisitions, future plans, product restructuring) to the brand. A brand audit will help you understand where you stand today and what it will take for the brand to engage customers going forward.

 

  1. Focus on context. Your greatest opportunities lie at the point of convergence across company values, customer desire and the state of the market.

 

  1. Leverage your strengths. Start from your core values — the attributes that built your business. Then determine how you can carry them forward. Whether it’s a matter of getting back to basics or pumping new life into trusted values, don’t loose what you’ve spent years building. Reassure customers that you are who you’ve always been and will continue to be.

 

  1. Reach out to customers. You can’t make business decisions and establish your brand identity in a vacuum. Talk with customers, social and website visitors and, in some cases, random members of the public. Invite them to take part in surveys, phone interviews, focus groups and one-on-one interviews.

 

  1. Don’t overlook your digital branding. Today your brand extends to everything you do online — websites, social sites, digital ads, YouTube videos and more. Plus, with new tools and marketing automation technology, you can quantify more of your results. You can see what people are doing and compare results with what they tell you.

 

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[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-20/metlife-to-phase-out-snoopy-branding-as-ceo-reshapes-insurer

[2] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-digital-disconnect-customer-engagement

[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2016/05/11/the-worlds-most-valuable-brands-2016-behind-the-numbers/#126ce3897383

[4] https://www.metlife.com/about-us/brand/MetLife_Launches_New_Brand-Press_Release.pdf

[5] http://www.inc.com/guides/201105/10-tips-on-how-to-research-your-competition.html

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2013/10/05/apples-most-important-branding-lesson-for-marketers/#46c5410e18e2

Brand Innovation – How to Identify New Growth Opportunities

Every day, your brand has opportunities to positively or negatively impact both current and potential customers. Ultimately, high-quality brand interactions are the difference between people who make purchases and those who take their patronage elsewhere. Brand innovation is a key factor in harnessing customer attention, purchase and ongoing loyalty to ensure growth.

 

The positive and memorable impact your brand makes on existing or potential customers is critical, because statistics indicate two thirds of people feel conflicted and need to be reassured on multiple occasions and through numerous touch-points before they trust a brand and make a purchase. [1]

 

In past decades brands were able to generate consumer confidence directly with mass communication strategies such as TV advertising. Now that essential trust factor needs to be developed, nurtured and reinforced through multiple direct and indirect communication routes such as fans, friends, direct marketing and social interaction online. It’s more important than ever for your brand to innovate and leverage new lucrative opportunities that make it, not only highly visible, but known, liked and trusted by your primary audience.

 

If you’re struggling to make your brand standout and be trusted, liked and referred by your ideal customer then the Personality Profile Performer™ is the online brand building programme you need right now.

Factors That Indicate You’re Missing Lucrative New Growth Opportunities

 

There are many factors that may indicate your brand is missing lucrative opportunities, and subsequently losing momentum [2]:

 

  • Loss of Profits or Declining Sales: This is one of the most obvious signs that you’re not identifying and capitalizing on new development opportunities, and are losing momentum. You may not realize how severe the problem is until you look at how each quarter stacks up compared to previous years, and the numbers reveal how sales have plummeted. Earlier this year, Dunkin’ Donuts experienced falling profits, and analysts proposed one of the reasons was due to large burger chains, such as Burger King, offering unbeatable breakfast deals to lure loyal Dunkin’ Donuts customers elsewhere.

 

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Image via businessinsider.com

 

  • Poor Customer Feedback: Are you systematically tracking customer feedback? Maybe you’ve asked for customer feedback through surveys and aren’t happy with the responses you’ve received. Perhaps client feedback has been benign — your brand’s simply not doing enough for them, which has motivated previously loyal customers look elsewhere. JetBlue, an American low-cost airline, hired a team of over two-dozen people to handle social media with the primary objective of responding fast to customer feedback across social media — the target being a response within 10 minutes. That’s one example of a brand that’s implemented a proactive brand strategy to mitigate and limit poor customer feedback by handling problems quickly and efficiently.

 

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Image via jetblue.com

 

 

  • You’re Not Consistently Looking for New Customers or Growth Opportunities: If you’re not actively seeking out new customers or ways to grow, you’ll almost certainly miss new openings right in front of you.

 

  • A Decline in Social Media Traffic/Less Engagement With Your Posts: In addition to keeping an eye on overall social media traffic levels, you should also be concerned if there is less engagement with posts or poorer conversions, depending on your overall brand strategy.

 

  • Your Social Strategies Don’t Ultimately Convert Into Sales: Perhaps your marketing team has spent months developing a social strategy with the objective of translating heightened activity into increased sales. If you have one or more campaigns falling short, that’s a strong indicator that your brand is losing momentum and not on top of changing trends. In an effort to combat the negative press generated by the documentary film Blackfish, the SeaWorld brand of amusement parks spent millions to rehabilitate its image, including running an “Ask SeaWorld” campaign where social media users could pose questions to park representatives. Reportedly these efforts didn’t achieve the desired objectives — to stop the brand’s declining attendance numbers. However, the effects of the film could have been even more severe if the park chose not to respond at all.

 

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Image via seaworldcares.com

 

  • Your Products or Services Don’t Perform as Expected in the Marketplace: When new products don’t have the impact you’d hoped for, or older products that had performed well over time no longer compete as well in the marketplace, its probably time to audit your offering thoroughly. A brand audit is effectively a health check of your brand to evaluate areas of weakness and strength. It’s also used to identify new innovation opportunities too.

 

If you need to evaluate your brand’s vulnerabilities, weak points and areas in need of innovation and change then now is the time to use the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™. It’s an online programme that walks you through, step-by-step, the process of giving your brand a health check. In fact the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ is a critical brand management tool essential in every brand owner’s arsenal.

 

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Brand Strategies for Growth

 

Having considered some of the under performance indicators, corrective action is urgently needed:

 

• Solicit Customer Feedback in Conventional and Non-Conventional Ways:

We’ve already talked about how customer comments could reveal your brand isn’t doing as well as it should in the marketplace because it’s not adequately meeting customer needs. Such feedback could also be useful in shining a light on areas for innovation. In order to be maximally effective, consider methods of getting feedback that are often overlooked.[3]

 

For example, if you use cancellation tickets or opt-out methods, follow up with customers and find out why they decided to leave. Also, if your brand has an app, have a section where customers can go to give insight on how the company is doing in meeting their needs.

 

• Ask Employees for Their Views of the Company:

Employees are often your brand’s best brand ambassadors. Take time to understand how they feel about your brand and your company, and find out how you could improve. It’s also useful to ask employees if their friends have expressed opinions about your company, service or product, and if so, what they are. One of your primary objectives should be to ensure you have all your team onboard, behind your brand and motivated because every member of your team can make an important contribution to help it grow. Internal and external alignment is a critical part of your brand success.

 

• Take a Look at What Competitors Are Doing Well:

It’s also useful to examine the habits and trends of competitors in your sector and evaluate how they’re succeeding. This is a reference but should not become a source for emulation. You need to be different and distinctive which means you have to forge your own path.

 

You can acquire valuable insights by observing how successful competitors or high performing brands behave online. Sector relevance does have some bearing though when evaluating their strategies.[4] What do they do to find out what customers are thinking and feeling, and how do they capitalize on those opportunities?

 

• Seek Out Underserved Sectors or Customers:

There’s usually a lot of focus on the top performers in the market, but it’s worthwhile to take a dramatically different approach and view the market from the bottom up. By doing that, you may discover what’s sometimes called a disruptive opportunity. [5] You might decide to offer a product or service that’s more affordable to the bottom part of the market, thereby making it more accessible to everyone.

 

• Study Societal Trends:

By becoming more aware of trends throughout society, you’ll learn more about the amount of disposable income people have, what they tend to buy, and why. That insight could help you discover where your brand could pivot into an alternative market, reposition, rebrand and dominate. A key question to consider, have you thoroughly mapped out your different customer profiles or buyer personas? You can’t truly meet your customers’ needs if you don’t know their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. Purchaser Personas or Buyer Personas are a critical brand development tool and a core part of the Personality Profile Performer™ online brand building course.

 

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Image via Pixabay

 

• Highlight Seasonal Opportunities:

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is a perfect example of a product that highlighted a seasonal opportunity.

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, the product encouraged countless other companies to come up with pumpkin products of their own. You may even want to release products that make it easier for people to keep New Year’s resolutions. [6]

 

A couple of years ago, the Walgreen’s drug store chain did that by creating a special landing page to highlight six of the most common health-related New Year’s resolutions. Then, they offered associated products to help shoppers get off to a good start with their New Years goals.

 

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Image via Rohit Bhargava

 

 

 

 

Branding Building Opportunities to Consider and What to Keep in Mind While Doing So

 

Here we’ll look at ways you can build your brand after you’ve identified your areas of weakness using a brand audit health check so you can harness and convert potential misses into winning opportunities. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you proceed [7]:

 

Offer Promotional Giveaways:

Freebies may help you enter a new market by giving potential customers a taste of your brand through your product or service so they can experience how good it really is. When deciding what to give complimentary or offer a limited time use, focus on products or services that are the best representations or experiences of your brand.

 

The Republic of Tea, a specialty beverage company, does that well by including free samples of its tea within catalogues, and also packaged with every order a customer places. This approach is a great way to get people acquainted with the taste and quality of this upscale tea and its comprehensive range, thereby helping customers discover that this is a brand worth the indulgence.

 

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Image via therepublicoftea.com

 

The brand also regularly offers limited-time-only products, including teas based on series of popular books. Free samples arguably encourage people to try teas they might not taste otherwise.

 

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Image via therepublicoftea.com

 

 

Position Your Company as an Expert on a Subject:

What can your company explain better than any other, or what need does your product fill? Once you can answer those questions, you’re in a good place to generate content that showcases your company as one worth listening to, but make sure such content is intriguing and creative.

 

E-mail Customers After Receipt:

Once customers receive your products, e-mail them to ask whether there are things your brand could have done better. To encourage participation, give customers something in exchange such as a discount off a future purchase.

 

 

 

Three Brand Innovation Case Studies

Let’s look at three case studies of companies that harnessed new opportunities in the marketplace and capitalized on them to grow their brands:

 

1. Toyota/VH1 Save The Music:

Marketing analysts suggest that marketing at music festivals is of growing importance, especially when reaching Millennials. [8] These two well-known brands teamed up in celebration of Lollapalooza, a huge music festival.

 

They invited people to answer the question “What Does Music Mean to You” on globed ornaments, and broadcast the results on social media. To tie in with this campaign, both companies will present $30,000 worth of music equipment to three Chicago-area schools. This campaign harnessed a missed opportunity because it boosted brand visibility, highlighted CSR [9], and used the power of social media through a special hash tag.

 

 

 

2. Club Mexicana:

This is a London-based SME / SMB vegan Mexican pop-up restaurant [10] that has found success with recipes that both vegans and meat eaters love. The goal is to not only to cater to a growing number of people on a vegan diet, but defy misconceptions that vegan food is bland and not meant for a broader audience. Club Mexicana entered the marketplace at an opportune time, when vegan preferences were becoming more popular.

 

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Image via clubmexicana.com

3. MVMT:

24-year-old college dropouts started a massively popular watch brand by offering cool timepieces at reasonable prices. They adopted a direct-to-consumer model, used crowd-funding and financial contributions from friends and relatives to kick-start the company, and recruited professionals to handle things they couldn’t do independently. This three-pronged plan helped them conquer the Millennial market. [12]

 

 

 

 

As you can see, once you’ve identified signs that indicate your brand is losing momentum in the marketplace, there are multiple ways to get it back on track — a brand audit is definitely required to ensure you achieve the best results. Pay attention to what customers are saying, and evaluate how you can better meet their needs, thereby finding lucrative opportunities you may have previously missed.

 

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Image via mvmtwatches.com

 

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Numerous signs indicate lost momentum, from faltering profits to poorly performing products or services
  • Seasonal opportunities, employee insight, customer feedback and societal trends are some things that can help you identify missing opportunities
  • Follow up with customers to learn what you could have done better
  • Lucrative opportunities are often found when companies proactively respond to signals from their customers and engage with them regularly

 

Questions to Consider:

  • Have you identified signs that your brand has lost momentum? Would a brand audit be in order?
  • How might you reach out to employees to get their thoughts on your brand? Have you considered brand induction and training to make them into powerful brand ambassadors?
  • In what ways could you capitalize on seasons, events or holidays to harness new opportunities?
  • Have you considered giving your customers product samples, discounted access, bundled packages or freebies so they can sample or experience your brand first hand to understand or appreciate its’ superb merits?
  • Have you investigated ways you could tie Corporate Social Responsibility brand strategies into a new growth opportunity, as Toyota and VH1 did?

 

 

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[1] Michelle Hutton, http://www.edelman.com, “I Talk About Your Brand Because I Like My Friends,” September 2015.

[2] Kimanzi Constable, http://www.entrepreneur.com, “5 Signs That You’ve Lost Momentum in Your Business,” March 2016.

[3] Heather McCloskey, community.uservoice.com, “5 Overlooked Customer Feedback Opportunities That Are Product Insight Goldmines.”

[4] Jim Belosic, http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com. “10 Big Brand Facebook Tactics Any Business Can Use,” March 2014.

[5] Ronell Smith, http://www.moz.com, “How to Find Your Brand’s Disruptive Opportunity,” February 2016.

[6] Rodolfo Rinaldi Rincon and Hannah Lamb, http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com, “How Brands Can Seize Opportunities Around New Year Resolutions, ” December 2015.

[7] Amanda Stillwagon, http://www.smallbiztrends.com, “9 Ways You May Be Missing Opportunities To Build Your Brand,” May 2016.

[8] Jeff Fromm, http://www.millennialmarketing.com, “Marketing at Music Festivals: Playing to the Millennial Crowd, ” January 2014.

[9] Jordan Simon, http://www.vibe.com. “Toyota and VH1 Save the Music Partner Up for Lollapalooza and Chicago School Grants,” July 2016.

[10] http://www.clubmexicana.com/

[11] Damien Clarkson, http://www.theguardian.com, “Businesses and Entrepreneurs Seize Opportunities in Rise of Veganism, November 2014.

[12] Aimee Millwood, http://www.entrepreneur.com, “These 2 Young Entrepreneurs Seized the Time — and Success,” March 2016.

 

Brand Crisis – How to Manage, Survive and Thrive

The one thing every brand product or service can count on is that there is a brand crisis in your future. No brand is immune. And, because bad news travels fast (faster than ever, due to social media), time is of the essence.

 

When do you have a brand crisis on your hands? Whenever there are “unexpected events that threaten a brand’s perceived ability to deliver expected benefits, thereby weakening brand equity.” [1]

 

It’s a Brand Crisis: First Things First

Step 1: Damage Control

Whether Mother Nature or manmade forces are at work, it’s critical that no matter how robust a brand you have built, you do have a “just-in-case” plan on the Public Relations shelf. A crisis management professional will guide you on the immediate essential steps and basic principles[2] of crisis management, and importantly, on your specific scenario.

 

From the very first moment that a sudden event, a mistake, or a piece of news impacts a brand negatively, savvy brand managers need to know:

  • what to do first
  • what never to say to the media
  • how to prioritize
  • what social media tactics are best

 

Step 2: Assessing the Brand Damage

According to the Financial Times, “When a brand crisis breaks out, consumers and other stakeholders (e.g., shareholders, the media, regulators) are likely to raise questions about the affected brand and why the crisis happened such as: who is to blame? Is the event likely to happen again? Is it true? What does the crisis signal about the brand?”[3]

 

When the frenzy begins to abate, your brand requires large amounts of tender loving care. The central question to be answered relates to the prognosis and timing for recovery. That is, brand owners and managers need to analyze both the short-term and long-term effects of the damage caused by the crisis for complete, cool-headed consideration.

Step 3: Short-Term Brand Damage

Assuming no loss of life or property, your short-term considerations are typically:

  1.  sales
  2.  consumer confidence
  3.  an attack mounted by opportunist challenger brand(s).

Therefore, the task is to recover revenue, earn consumers’ trust, and deal with competitors in the right way.

 

A silver lining comes from gaining positive lessons learned from a negative experience…it’s never more important than when one’s “dirty laundry” has been on display for all to observe.

 

Nevertheless, a brand audit followed by a refresh or re-branding may very well be in order at this critical moment.

 

AAA-eProduct-Promo-Start-Now-800x700px

 

 

After the Brand Crisis: Getting Back to Normal

Step 4: Long-Term Brand Damage

A crisis is a harsh teacher and requires cool heads to respond rationally to an irrational situation. Ultimately, every crisis has a resolution.

 

How a brand deals with a crisis during the short-term damage control step will have a lasting effect on its reputation in the long-term, where it matters most. Indeed, that behaviour becomes a benchmark for the brand as conversations in the public sphere revolve around the brand’s handling of the event.

 

Because every situation is different, it’s impossible to say how long after the initial crisis occurs that step 4 will begin. It could be days, weeks, or months. Experts agree, “The scale and duration of this impact depends on a number of factors, including a brand’s track record and established consumer goodwill, as well as how quickly brand custodians respond to the crisis.” [4]

 

If you need to evaluate your brand’s vulnerabilities, weak points and areas in need of change then now is the time to use the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™. It’s an online programme that walks you through, step-by-step, the process of giving your brand an audit. A critical management tool in every brand owners arsenal.

 

Step 5: The Problem Gets Fixed

In a widely shared 2005 op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal[5] following the devastating Hurricane Katrina, the former chairman of General Electric presented his thought leadership memo about the five stages of a crisis. According to Jack Welch, the fifth and final stage in crisis management is when the problem gets fixed.

 

A benefit derived from a crisis is that it lets us know where things are broken and can help us to identify solutions so that future similar crises may be avoided. But this benefit applies only if we take the appropriate steps to learn those lessons and to apply that wisdom to our brand.

jawaharlal-nehru-quote-600px

It’s mandatory to undertake the post-crisis approach strategically. In the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, statesman of India, “Every little thing counts in a crisis.”

 

What Now For My Brand?

As a branding expert, Persona Design can provide insights and advice about getting your brand back to ship-shape by determining:

 

This process begins with a detailed brand audit focused on recovery. This procedure determines your brand’s market position versus competitors, identifies where brand strengths and weaknesses lie, reveals inconsistencies and opportunities for improvement, and flags new developments.

 

 

Option 1: A Brand Refresh

In the wake of a crisis, a refreshed brand must create and clearly communicate new company values.

 

Option 2: A Re-branding

A brand audit will determine whether the brand can survive. Some brands, including large ones like Arthur Andersen (now Accenture), cannot survive a deep crisis.

Calculated and deliberate brand re-building to repair brand reputation is not a frivolous process. It requires a serious and thoughtful strategy based on customer perception, behaviour and values.

Let’s look at five types of crises that commonly occur in a small-to-mid-sized company and use illustrations found within larger corporations. Note that the strength of a brand image will mitigate damage in crisis aftermath, with smaller brands being more vulnerable than these household names.

 

A Bump in the Road for Brands

1. Product Failures

As a small-to-medium retailer, you can be caught up in a failed product originating with one of your suppliers. It’s a costly headache for retail management having to refund customers’ money, give them replacements, deal with the supplier, while hoping the problem doesn’t get any worse or rub off on your own brand. When a product failure occurs, you may benefit from professional brand reputation management.

Example: Due to six fatal incidents, millions of unstable dresser units have been recalled by IKEA[6], which is responsible for their own supply chain as manufacturer and reseller. This product recall is one of 17 for IKEA in 2015 through mid-2016.[7]

ikea-malm-dresser

IKEA Malm dressers (IKEA Corporate News website)

Result: Surveys indicates that the world’s largest furniture retailer’s reputation is hit hard, but the brand will survive, according to experts like Stephan Shakespeare, founder and CEO of YouGov, who writes in July 2016, “The good news is that IKEA’s overall Value Score remains relatively untroubled – in the UK at least. While this remains the case, IKEA can be assured its offering will continue to be popular…IKEA should be thankful that it has such a strong brand image, and indeed one that people around the world have a connection and loyalty to.”[8]

ikea-buzz-score

Image via Buzz Score (YouGov)

 

2. Brand Embarrassment

Keep your clearly defined brand values front and centre in the mind of the customer. If something embarrassing does occur, seek advice from a professional branding agency to prevent customers from expressing dismay with their feet and their wallets.

“People buy a brand because it says something about who they are and what they believe in,” according to Deborah MacInnis, PhD, a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. “If there’s a brand that does something bad, people feel betrayed but also feel that wearing it would signal that they agree with the values of the company.”[9]

Example: High priced teen apparel brand Abercrombie & Fitch lost its status as darling of the Millennials when the CEO made disparaging comments about customers who didn’t fit the store’s skinny sizing. An employee with an eating disorder gained 68,000 petition signatures and an apology.

 

 

Result: Sales have been impacted to the degree that store closings are the only option. The brand continues to close sizeable chunks of its portfolio of (previously) 946 U.S. store locations.

abercrombie-and-fitch-store-closings

Image via Fortune, source Abercrombie & Fitch filings

 

3. High Profile Dishonesty

Just one untruthful comment by one top executive can negatively affect a brand. This can be particularly disruptive for service brands where the emphasis is on people. A renewed brand promise will help get things back on track.

A Canadian-based digital strategy specialist writes, “Brands aren’t heartless, mindless, soulless, brick and mortar stores. They are built by people. And no customer wants to associate with brands that comprise of unscrupulous, unreliable people. Honesty is always number one on buyers’ desirability index.”[10]

Example: After a 22-year career, NBC’s former national news anchor, Brian Williams, lost his job after exaggerating a report about his experience on the front lines in Iraq.

 

 

Result: With a quick response from NBC, a Williams apology, and a seven-month suspension for its news anchor, the network weathered the storm around trustworthiness. The popular news announcer who had enjoyed a 10-year, $15 million/year contract was brought back on air, albeit with a demotion to the network’s related cable brand, MSNBC.[11]

4. Broken Brand Promises

In the consumer’s mind, Whole Food stands for healthy eating, responsibly grown, and high quality standards, so that shoppers can buy with confidence around issues they care about.[12] A series of giant consumer let downs have occurred. Whole Foods Market, Inc. is big enough to fund their own newly hired full-time professional global VP to handle post-crisis brand strategy.[13]

Example: Whole Foods dropped the ball on their own brand promise. Last year, Whole Foods was found guilty of price mischarging from California to New York. In another salvo at Whole Foods in June 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a series of safety standard warnings[14] regarding fundamental cleanliness standards.

Result: Consumers were unimpressed when Whole Foods responded with a video from the company’s CEOs. People reportedly found the performance insincere, punctuated with the kind of overt gesticulation that students of body language are trained to spot. No discount was offered to entice customers back. Share prices for Whole Foods Market, Inc. have depreciated 25 percent in 12 months[15] and they’re pivoting to an ancillary brand, a smaller store with less selection, called 365, aimed at Millennials.[16]

 

 

What happened to “The Customer is Always Right”? Harry Gordon Selfridge may have overdone customer service with that mantra back in 1909. However, when a business’s explanation is open to interpretation as “we’re sorry we got caught,” you can be sure that savvy consumers aren’t buying it.

 

whole-foods-365-on-cnn

Image via YouTube

5. Scandals

When internal and external brand values are out of alignment and don’t match, the result can be devastating. FIFA, Volkswagen, Sports Direct, Chipotle, Bill Cosby, Ryan Lochte. And now Wells Fargo, one of the world’s largest banks (with a comfy Old West stagecoach brand image) was fined $185 million and released 5,300 when a fabricated bank account scandal broke.

 

findus-crispy-pancakes

Image via Mirror UK

 

 

Example: For Findus, 50 years in the UK grocer’s frozen food aisles, it was one scandal too many. Following the uproar of 2013, when the beef lasagne was found to contain 60 to 100 percent horse meat, the product was pulled and the brand was sold. Time did not heal, as it became known that the brand had been served in 2,300 schools, hospitals, prisons, armed forces and senior housing,

Result: From spring 2017, the Findus brand is no more.[17]

 

Are you struggling with how to reposition your brand, rebuild your brand values, improve your brand promise — make your brand standout for the right reasons so it’s memorable and distinctive in ways that make it much loved? Then the Personality Profile Performer™ online programme is a perfect fit for you. Enroll today and make your brand highly visible and loved.

 

PPP-eProduct-Enroll-eCourse-Here-800x700px

 

Questions to ask while reinforcing or rebuilding your brand:

 

• How strong is your brand reputation?

 

• What problem does your brand solve for its customers?

 

• Are your brand values clearly defined and communicated?

 

• How does your brand deliver on its promise?

 

• How do your employees, partners, vendors, suppliers and owners view your brand?

 

• When was the last time you conducted a brand audit?

 

[1] http://blog.ebiquity.com/2015/07/why-it-pays-to-take-the-drama-out-of-a-crisis

[2] Bendel, Peggy. “It’s a Crisis! Now What?” SutherlandHousePublishing.com, 2012.

[3] http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=brand-crisis

[4] http://blog.ebiquity.com/2015/07/why-it-pays-to-take-the-drama-out-of-a-crisis

[5] http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB112666533279540108

[6] http://www.ikea.com/us/en/about_ikea/newsitem/062816-recall-chest-and-dressers

[7] http://www.ikea.com/us/en/about_ikea/newsroom/product_recalls

[8] https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/07/06/ikeas-drawer-debacle-wont-destroy-uk-image/

[9] https://mic.com/articles/130147/researchers-are-now-able-to-measure-just-how-embarrassing-an-uncool-brand-is#.T70A15Xkv

[10] http://www.business2community.com/branding/4-reasons-dishonesty-can-kill-brand-faster-bad-strategy-01084600#5XME1zbb2yep2m34.97

[11] https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/at-long-last-brian-williams-is-back–humbled-and-demoted-to-low-rated-msnbc/2015/09/21/ea423408-6077-11e5-b38e-06883aacba64_story.html

[12] http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values

[13] http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/brooke-buchanan-theranos-whole-foods

[14] http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2016/ucm506089.htm

[15] http://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/062016/what-whole-foods-latest-woes-mean-stock-wfm.asp

[16] http://money.cnn.com/2016/07/27/investing/whole-foods-earnings-july

[17] http://metro.co.uk/2016/01/31/goodbye-findus-crispy-pancakes-brand-dogged-by-horsemeat-scandal-is-to-disappear-5654449/

How Brexit Presents Big Opportunities for Small Brands

Eleven Branding Lessons: Keeping a Sharp Eye on Your No.1 Asset

Once the heavy lifting in creating your brand is done, basic care and ongoing maintenance to preserve and protect it must not be overlooked. “Nurture your brand as you would a child,” says brand expert Jagdeep Kapoor, author of the bestselling “Twenty-Four Brand Mantras.” Just like all living things, a brand requires nurturing to remain healthy and to grow.

From creation through to end-of-life, a brand can encounter unexpected challenges arising from all sorts of corners, not just from the competition. From a poorly planned campaign to a corporate takeover, and from an outspoken CEO to a badly chosen name, a few examples that made recent headline news are worth a closer look to form takeaways and lessons learned for brand owners and managers everywhere.

Case Study: Rhode Island Is Not Iceland – Tourism Campaign Has Too Many Mistakes, Says Governor

America’s smallest state ought to know that details matter. When Rhode Island set out to create its new $5 million integrated tourism and new business promotion campaign, big guns were brought in. Who better, you might think, than Milton Glaser, the graphic designer who created the iconic  I ❤ NY campaign?

Lesson #1: Politics matter! Milton Glaser and Havas PR North America, chosen for the PR contract, are New York City firms, not Rhode Island firms.

Rhode Island Logos 600px

The newly launched campaign featuring a slogan “Cooler & Warmer” left many people cold…and guessing. What does it mean, they queried across social media channels. One Commerce Corporation board member said he saw “no emotional connection” and “no personal brand to the state or the people.”[1]

 Rhode Island And Harpa Tweet

An ATOM Media executive in Providence, RI said, “Usually a slogan is something that people know instantly and understand. I think the fact that you need to explain it could be a little problematic.”[2] That sentiment was echoed by the owner of a Newport, RI marketing and graphic design agency, who said the slogan, “Doesn’t make any sense to me. In order to create a good tagline you have to have a brand strategy.[3]

Lesson #2: Brand strategy comes before name, tagline and logo creation.

Lesson #3: Graphics must reflect and express a brand’s persona, and that must be one that resonates with people, not one that needs to be explained.

Lesson #4: Social media matters! A tagline containing a special character or symbol (such as the ampersand in Cooler & Warmer) won’t function as a hashtag[4]. Ever.

That wasn’t all. A YouTube video released with great fanfare was yanked within 24 hours when it was pointed out, “Hey, that’s not Rhode Island — that’s the Harpa concert hall and conference center in Reykjavik. Iceland.”[5] Other footage featured a highly acclaimed restaurateur who had already moved his operation to Boston. And the video also claimed 20 percent of America’s historic sites are in the little Ocean State, when it’s actually 2 percent.[6]

This was the ‘alternative’ Rhode Island Cooler & Warmer ‘spoof’ version produced by The Wonderful Show!

Lesson #5: Accuracy matters! The state’s marketing director resigned. Media partners are returning their contract fees to the taxpayers. Cooler & Warmer was scrapped.

After an initial attempt — picked up internationally, even by The China Post[7] — Governor Raimondo took a different tack at a news conference, saying, “One of the things I’ve learned from listening and engaging with people is that there should’ve been more public participation in this thing from the get-go.”[8]

With that in mind, Newport Buzz posted a public contest, pitting “Cooler & Warmer” against the previous slogan, “Discover Beautiful Rhode Island,” and a local  amateur entry, “Sea to Believe.” With 15,000 votes in so far, the local resident’s idea is clear away the favorite with 80 percent, versus the traditional one at 18 percent and the costly new-fangled entry coming in dead last at 2 percent.

Lesson #6: There’s no room for ivory tower decision-making. Consultation is critical, brand audits are essential.

AAA-eProduct-Promo-Start-Now-800x700px

More Takeaways: All brands should consider geographical location of their contractors and supply chains when performing due diligence in order to avoid potential embarrassment. The look and feel of the brand via tagline, logo, adverts, all brand collateral, media and all touchpoints must resonate with its audience, make an emotional connection and be authentic. The importance of fact-checking and the need to eliminate exaggerated claims cannot be overstated. Handle a brand crisis with carefully thought-out strategy, not something to poke fun at.

Case Study: Brand Takeover – Richard Branson Reacts to Virgin America Sale

Sir Richard Branson is himself a brand who runs a brand that has sub-brands. The self-made billionaire wasted no time addressing the Alaska Airlines purchase of Virgin America — just in case of any tarnish rubbing off on the overall Virgin brand name.

 Richard Branson On Virgin America 600px

Image via www.virgin.com and Virgin America

Well aware of the fierce loyalty of Virgin America fans for what they consider a superior product at parity prices, Branson let everybody know, “I would be lying if I didn’t admit sadness that our wonderful airline is merging with another. Because I’m not American, the US Department of Transportation stipulated I take some of my shares in Virgin America as non-voting shares, reducing my influence over any takeover. So there was sadly nothing I could do to stop it.”[9]

Lesson #7: Confront a brand crisis. Deal with it, manage it, communicate about it professionally and do not hide from it.

In a statement that’s a pleasure to read in its entirety, due to the passion readers can sense, Branson goes on to discuss the importance of the brand, “…once Alaska witnesses first-hand the power of the brand and the love of Virgin America customers for our product and guest experience, they too will be converts and the US traveling public will continue to benefit…”

Even in the face of a forced merger, the rest of the Virgin brand received immediate reinforcement from the top. “Our Virgin airline has much more to do, more places to go, and more friends to make along the way,” Branson stated.

Lesson #8: Find the silver lining. Notice how Branson uses this corporate takeover event as an opportunity to reiterate the ongoing benefits of a Virgin travel experience.

Case Study: Tarnished Brand – Trump Empire?

In his run on the US presidency, Donald Trump’s raucous attention-grabbing style and statements is affecting custom at Trump Collection branded apartment towers, hotels, resorts and golf courses.

Trump Brand Versus Trump Candidate

Image via http://www.npr.org

Polling and consulting firm Penn Schoen Berland survey results found that 45 percent of respondent US residents with annual earnings of $200,000 or more will make a point of not visiting a Trump hotel or golf course over the next four years. Within that group, 77 percent indicated they would actually boycott the Trump brand.[10]

Lesson #9:  From the CEO to front line employees to the back of the house operation, your brand is represented by everyone in each and every customer (and potential customer) interaction. Everyone is, or should be, an ambassador for your brand.

Case Study: Stay Relevant, For The Times They Are A-Changin’

In the 1980’s, four-time Olympic diving gold medalist and five-time world champion Greg Louganis was passed over for one additional honor — an appearance on the Breakfast of Champions Wheaties Legends cereal boxes. Louganis is openly gay, HIV-positive and an LGBT activist. He is also “widely viewed as the greatest diver in the history of the sport,”[11] according to a recent communication from the Wheaties maker, General Mills.

Calling it “a ground swell of love,” Louganis told Hollywood Today that a petition signed by 40,000-plus people brought the oversight to the attention of General Mills. At age 56, Louganis joins a highly decorated Olympian swimmer and hurdler, a woman and a black man, in the brand’s revamped Wheaties Legends series packaging, available on the grocery store shelves (one million boxes!) from May 2016.

 Wheaties Legends Breakfast Of Champions 600px

Image via http://www.blog.generalmills.com

Lesson #10: A brand needs to stay relevant to stay alive. The brand must respond to feedback and act to correct an out-and-out mistake.

PPP-eProduct-Promise-Promo-800x700px

 

Case Study: What’s In a Name – Law School Learns to Study Harder

Experts highly recommend that even the smallest of brands invest time and effort in getting a name right from the start to avoid potential legal issues and massive upheaval if a change is required. That advice takes into consideration everything from spelling to acronyms to trademark and domain name. Later, a brand might tweak a logo, revamp packaging design, shift media channels, or even undertake a rebrand if necessary.

AdWeek reports that a recent study by U.K. research firm MillwardBrown found “many brands that change their names can expect an immediate 5 to 20 percent drop in sales, and that the new brand image ‘may not be as strong as it was before.’”[12]

After U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February, George Mason University outside Washington D.C. renamed their law school after Scalia upon receiving a $30 million gift to do so.

George Mason Ass Law Tweet

Several tweets later[13], the school realized the awkward acronym they’d created and made a swift change away from Antonin Scalia School of Law, or ASSOL.[14] A crisis was averted at Antonin Scalia Law School before any signs went up or ribbons were cut.

 George Mason Uni (After) 600px

Image via https://www2.gmu.edu

Spelling Counts: When Small Brands Make Big Mistakes

Branding experts point out that misspellings, bad foreign language translations and tricky signage is an area frequently causing trouble at small companies which attempt an in-house branding effort. Even big brands don’t always get it right, with sometimes alarming results.[15]

Amusing examples can occur when random neon lights fail and the Essex House becomes Sex House and Dynasty Restaurant becomes Nasty Restaurant.

 Dynasty Restaurant Sign

Image via Reddit

Even an airport parking garage can be considered part of the airport’s brand. Here’s a curious example of why details matter, right down to vetting your contractors and proofing the signage.

 Parking Before Existing Sign 600px

Image via Reddit

Lesson #11: Seek professional assistance in naming a brand to avoid potentially disastrous errors and oversights.

 

Questions to consider:

• Would you agree that branding is even more important and valuable for small businesses than it is for big companies?

 

• Have you fully addressed your brand profiling, positioning and brand strategy prior to jumping into logo design or tagline development?

 

• Have you considered consumer research and due diligence of supply chain as part of your brand audit prior to brand launch or re-branding?

 

• Have you fully considered and defined differentiation within your brand? How is your brand really different distinctive and memorable?

 

• Have you determined that your brand rings true and authentic for its target audiences? Have you developed you purchaser personas for each of your different customer types?

 

• Have you seen other examples of common mistakes amongst other brands that you can learn from?

 

 

[1] http://pbn.com/Commerce-RI-board-member-Throw-Cooler-and-Warmer-slogan-out,113203

[2] http://turnto10.com/news/local/ri-commerce-corp-releases-state-promotional-video

[3] http://pbn.com/Commerce-RI-board-member-Throw-Cooler-and-Warmer-slogan-out,113203

[4] http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/#tQ14Pph.xuqT

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/30/rhode-island-tourism-video-mistakenly-features-reykjavik

[6] http://www.abcfoxmontana.com/story/31604583/rhode-island-governor-says-iceland-video-may-draw-tourists

[7] http://www.chinapost.com.tw/life/offbeat/2016/04/01/462288/Rhode-Island.htm

[8] http://wpri.com/2016/04/01/ri-chief-marketing-officer-resigns-after-cooler-warmer-debacle

[9] https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/virgin-america

[10] http://www.npr.org/2016/04/05/473146450/how-will-trump-the-brand-survive-trump-the-candidate

[11] http://www.blog.generalmills.com/2016/04/evans-louganis-and-moses-get-wheaties-honor

[12] http://www.adweek.com/news-gallery/advertising-branding/11-brand-names-simply-couldnt-survive-times-163440

[13] http://fortune.com/2016/04/06/antonin-scalia-school-of-law

[14] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/antonin-scalia-school-of-law-renamed-due-to-awkward-acronym

[15] http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/spelling-grammar-mistakes

 

  

Brand Promises: How to Craft, Articulate and Live Them for Brand Success

According to a Gallup study of nearly 18 million people, most customers say brands don’t live up to what they promise. [1] Many are also disengaged with their respective brands, and consequently not loyal to them either. Here we take a look at how to create, develop, share and authentically live out and deliver on your brand promise to help you thrive in the marketplace and increase your profitability.

 

 

Gallup Research Staff Brand Ambassadors

Image via www.gallup.com

 

 

 

What is a Brand Promise?

 

Your brand promise is an extension of your brand’s positioning, and can be explicitly spelled out, or manifested in more subtle ways. A compelling brand promise contains tangible emotional benefits, which in turn stimulates desire amongst its target audience.

 

Furthermore, a strong brand promise establishes expectations by informing customers on what the brand stands for and what it represents. [2] Sometimes the brand name in itself conveys the promise. Consider that most people hear the word “Cadillac” and instantly think of an upscale car.

 

Brand promises can also be communicated through symbolism such as the signature aqua blue associated with Tiffany’s jewelry. Before even opening the box, recipients anticipate that the item inside will be luxurious. The colour has been given meaning by what the brand stands for and the promise it consistently delivers.

 

Tiffany Blue Box 600px

Image via www.tiffany.com

 

 

Familiarity is also a major aspect of the brand promise.[3] When people see the golden arches of a McDonald’s restaurant sign, they expect the brand to deliver on its promise of uncomplicated fun. This is underpinned by good service and convenient food — all of which is a consistent experience of simple, easy enjoyment regardless of McDonald’s location.

 

 

 

Making Your Brand Promise

 

Your brand promise should be easy for customers to understand, and very relatable. Most importantly it should be livable on a daily basis within your organization. As customers’ tastes and expectations change, your brand promise may need to evolve over time too. Your brand promise can transform as your brand adapts to the changing market but should remain true to your core brand DNA. [4] Ideally, customer expectations should be mirrored to whatever your brand promise consistently delivers.

 

Brand promises should be emotionally compelling, and exciting.[5] Consider the brand promise conveyed when families book trips to Disney World, often referred to as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Travelers who are Disney World-bound expect a promise of stress-free, fun-filled happy adventures where memories are created and shared.

 

You must be able to succinctly describe the emotional benefit your brand fulfills when developing a brand promise. What can your brand deliver that’s perceived to be totally different to your competitors. Consider this in terms of your brand experience, personality, mission, values, brand story and so forth. This process, known as brand profiling, will help you evaluate which human needs or desires are most relevant to your purchaser personas or customer avatars so you can develop your product or service to really meet their needs. Some examples include:

 

  • Need to belong
  • Desire to do feel; good, healthier, beautiful, intelligent, worthy, smarter etc.
  • Desire to have; fun, adventure, excitement, relaxation, challenge
  • Need to get necessities without hassles
  • Need to get items at best price available
  • Desire to be admired by peers; status symbol, trend-setter etc.
  • Need to have a solution which solves a particular problem
  • Want to have something that intuitively works

 

The emotional rewards combined with rational benefits, all perceived to be delivered in a way which is incomparable to your competitors, are what contribute to a compelling brand promise. However, you also need to ponder factors such as your commitment to customers, your customer service and the customer journey and which elements contribute most to customer loyalty and ultimately the creation of brand advocates.

 

 

Articulating Your Brand Promise

 

Your brand promise may be communicated through a snappy tagline that emphasizes what people can expect.[6]  In the 1980s, Federal Express set expectations about delivery speed with the tagline, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” That’s an example of a very bold brand promise. However, you also may find it advantageous to utilize a more ambiguous approach. Apple did that with their “Think Different” tagline that was open to various interpretations.

 

A brand promise and a tagline are not the same thing. However, a tagline can be useful for communicating what your brand promise says in a distilled way that’s easy for customers to understand, remember and refer.

 

Although it is important for a brand promise to be communicated to customers, it must first be internalize amongst your team because staff members are your best brand advocates. Most importantly if your staff and stakeholders don’t fully understand and live your brand promise, your external market — your customers won’t either, which leaves you at risk of being just another generic commodity and failing to meet expectations. [7]

 

Conduct a brand audit health check to evaluate how well aligned (or not) your internal team are with the external market.  If you uncover weak points in your brand culture and misconceptions about your brand promise, you’ll be empowered to implement internal changes with brand induction and training.

 

In addition to educating employees about your brand promise, you also need to make them feel invested in it as an important part of the whole entity where their contributions are key to the greater good and brand success, so they care about the emotional needs your brand promise fulfills.

 

It’s essential to create an emotional brand attachment with your customers, as well as with your employees otherwise they won’t be effective brand ambassadors or properly represent your brand. They are in effect the living embodiment of your brand so their understanding, internalization and commitment to living what it stands for and delivering on your promise is critical to your brand success and long term business growth.

 

Remember, fundamentally people buy products or services with emotion first and justify with rationale afterwards, regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must touch the heart to move the mind.

 

When being communicated to customers, the brand promise should have a genre that can be expressed through audible and visual cues.[8] For example, the grocery store Trader Joe’s has the unusual genre of a trading post, and promises it has a team of people who search the globe for high-quality products backed by an impressive guarantee.

 

Your brand promise should also have a unique voice that defines and expresses the brand’s character or personality. When the brand promise is associated with a strong voice, it becomes more relatable and memorable.

 

Communicating your brand’s promise effectively means being consistent when attracting customers’ attention, educating them, stimulating desire and converting them into paying individuals. If your ideal audience are effectively engaged at each stage, it’s easier to communicate your brand promise in a worthwhile and profitable way.

 

Finally, your brand promise should be communicated consistently and congruently across all brand touch-points.[9]  You may choose to share it through social media, direct mail brand collateral or your website amongst others. Most importantly it should be a ‘tangible experience’ throughout your whole customer journey, particularly where physical connecting occurs such as over the phone or face-to-face. It should be an emphatic part of your brand experience, be that in the office, on the show room floor or in your physical outlet or store.

 

 

 

Living Your Brand Promise

 

When evolving or discussing your brand promise with your team, always aim to do so face-to-face and provide opportunities for engagement and feedback.[10]  Also, provide direction and suggestions on how staff can personify your brand promise at work amongst themselves and when interacting with customers, through your training and brand induction programmes. Explain and demonstrate that living your brand promise is not a one-off activity, but an integral part of how you do things. When the brand promise is lived out internally, it naturally gets far more effectively expressed to and experienced by external customers simultaneously. [11]

 

Be intentional about showcasing your brand promise to customers through your company brand culture. Rather than leaving things to chance, keep channels of communication open, and accept that your brand promise may evolve over time. If you discover your brand is not living up to its promise, considering engaging external professional assistance to help you re-evaluate your whole brand offering using tools and systems like a brand audit health check and brand profile development with a system like the Personality Profile Performer™ to improve matters.

 

Now that you’re aware of what a brand promise is, and how to create and authentically live it, let’s look at brands that have succeeded in developing compelling brand promises and delivering on them consistently and successfully.

 

 

CASE STUDY: Saba Restaurant, Dublin

 

Saba is widely regarded as being the best authentic Thai and Vietnamese Restaurant in Ireland with an impressive and very extensive array of national and international awards — which are constantly being added to.

 

Saba means, ‘happy meeting place’, so the brand’s primary aim and promise is to provide really happy experiences for its customers, the kind that mellow into happy memories. This is at the heart of the Saba brand promise and an integral part of the brand culture, which can be tangibly experienced at every stage of the customer journey from initial booking to front line staff interactions at their multiple locations. And the Saba staff are very congruent in the experience they provide to their customers.

 

The Saba Promise 600px

Image via www.sabadublin.com

 

 

With a very strong commitment to developing his team, Paul Cadden, founder and owner, ensures his team are really well trained throughout the business. The fact that Saba has some of the highest retention rates in the industry is a testament not only to Paul’s remarkable vision but to the genuine commitment of all his team.

 

The Saba Way 600px

Image via www.sabadublin.com

 

 

Every team member knows what the brand stands for, their brand promise and genuinely live it internally amongst themselves and proudly ensure its central to all their customers interactions and experiences with them — all of which is evidenced not only in the countless awards received but in the hundreds of customer reviews and testimonials given.

 

 

 

 

 

CASE STUDY: Big Blue Whale Toys and Curiosities

 

This Houston, Texas-based small business delivers the brand promise through the descriptor, “A Magical Place to Find Classic, Hard-To-Find, and Handmade Toys in Houston, TX”. Although its website is basic, it offers a photo gallery that clearly depicts the inviting shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Bursting with items for the young and young-at-heart, the photos demonstrate shoppers do indeed have a very good chance of locating toys they couldn’t find elsewhere. The ocean-themed windows also help entice people to come and indulge their curiosities by wandering around this “magical place” that lives up to expectations. The shop has even been recognized by Business Insider as one of Houston’s coolest businesses. [12]

 

 

Big Blue Whale 600px

Image via www.houstoniamag.com

 

 

CASE STUDY: Ace Hardware

 

Ace Hardware’s brand promise is as follows: Deliver helpful, neighbourly service to every customer—every time. Although the brand has always prided itself on excellent service, it has more recently begun expanding on the “neighbourly” aspect.

 

 

 

 

 

The brand now offers same-day service to homes that are within 15 miles of local stores when orders are placed by 13:00p.m. That perk is very attractive and compelling for customers embroiled in home improvement projects, or can’t fit bulky items into their vehicles.

 

Ace Hardware 600px

Image via www.mesquitelocalnews.com

 

 

CASE STUDY: Tourism Vancouver

 

The brand promise of this tourism board is “The Vancouver experience will exceed visitors’ expectations. We will deliver superior value in a spectacular destination that is safe, exciting and welcoming to everyone.”

 

 

 

 

 

This organization has created a “brand toolkit” to help other businesses live the brand promise, and thereby promote Vancouver as a great place to visit. The company also holds an award ceremony to recognize outside parties that are delivering on the brand promise with excellence. The brand promise is emphasized through an extensive collection of media clips, including some that show how Vancouver can be exciting even if people are visiting for business reasons and not only pleasure.

 

Tourism Vancouver 600px

Image via www.discovervancouver.ca

 

 

Now that you have a better understanding of what a brand promise is, how to create one, and why it’s essential to your brand success, hopefully you’re on track to not only make promises, but keep them and indeed deliver them in an unforgettably way. If you can do that, customers will thank you not only with their loyalty but also through referring and sharing your brand too.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Your brand promise can be explicit or subtle, and may change as customers’ needs evolve.

 

  • Brand promises most effectively relate to emotional needs customers want fulfilling.

 

  • Your brand promise, customer experiences and expectations should be fully integrated and congruent.

 

  • Consistency is essential throughout every touch-point and communication when fulfilling your brand promise.

 

  • Employee commitment, brand induction and training are critical for effectively communicating and upholding your brand promise successfully.

 

 

Questions to Consider:

 

• What’s at least one emotional need your brand meets better than you’re your competitors? Have you developed your brand promise fully using the brand profiling process?

 

• How are you ensuring your employees’ perceptions of your brand promise are fully understood, congruent, authentically lived and effectively delivered throughout your organisation?

 

• Which channels are the most effective to communicate your brand promise to your customers and enhance their experience with your brand?

 

• Consider an occasion when a brand you love did not live up to its promise, how are you going to ensure your brand never falls foul with the same kind of disappointment?

 

• How are you connecting your brand promise to your existing company brand values, as Ace Hardware did? Have you considered or recently conducted a brand audit health check to evaluate how well your brand is performing, where it could do better and where new opportunities lie?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

 

The Power of Disruptor and Challenger Brands

 

[1] Ed O’Boyle and Amy Adkins, http://www.gallup.com/ “Companies Only Deliver on Their Brand Promises Half the Time,” May 2015.

[2] Susan Gunelius, http://www.aytm.com, “Brand Promise – How to Make It and Keep It”

[3] Lee Frederiksen, “http://www.hingemarketing.com, “Elements of a Successful Brand 4: Brand Promise”

[4] Sree Hameed, http://www.forbes.com, “Your Brand Promise Can Create or Destroy Customer Loyalty,” June 2013.

[5] Sue Kirchner, http://www.theworkathomewoman.com, “How to Write a Killer Brand Promise That Helps You Stand Out from the Crowd”

[6] http://www.creativemporium.co.uk, “Branding Series (Part 2): Creating a Brand Promise,” July 2014.

[7] Susan Guneilus, http://www.womenonbusiness.com, “The Importance of Integrating Your Brand Promise Into Your Company Culture,” August 2013.

[8] Laurence Vincent, http://www.inc.com, “How to Bind Customers to Your Brand”

[9] John Oechsle, http://www.business2community.com, “How & When: Using Communication to Deliver on Brand Promise,” August 2015.

[10] Ashley Freeman, http://www.allthingsic.com “Nine Golden Rules to Help Live Your Brand Internally” April 2015.

[11] Chris Cancialosi, http://www.forbes.com, “The Secret to Faithfully Delivering On Your Brand Promise,” March 2015.

[12] Emmie Martin, http://www.businessinsider.com, “The 18 Coolest New Businesses in Houston., ” April 2015.

[13]  Natasha D. Smith, http://www.dmmnews.com, “Ace Hardware’s Brand Promise is Its Strongest Marketing Tool” March 2015.

Top 10 Brands for Customer Experience and What You Can Learn From Them

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” (Jeff Bezos) – CEO Amazon.

 

89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016 according to a recent Gartner survey, compared to only 36 percent four years ago. If your customers don’t like the customer experience they have with you, there’s a high probability they won’t buy again and they’re highly likely to share their poor brand experience with everyone they know — online!

 

Steve Jobs Quote Customer Experience 600px

 

 

Here we’ll take a look at who has been delivering a great customer brand experience and how they’re doing it really well, contrasted with others on the opposite end of the scale — with actionable learnings for you to take away from both.

 

The latest reports on customer brand performance are eye-openers and worth reflecting on when you review your own brand or give it a customer performance brand health check.

 

 

Common Brand Experience Traits for Top Brands

One factor that definitely stands out is steadfast perseverance. What has attracted customers before, and will attract them in the future, is perceived value. The brands that have continued to deliver highly regarded perceived brand value, from a customer perspective, and continued to unwaveringly improve upon it, are ruling the day.

 

This perceived brand value has nothing to do with affordability but everything to do with user experience, a unique experience that creates strong brand loyalty and engenders long lasting customer brand champions.

 

Amazon 600px

Image via http://i.huffpost.com

 

  

Who’s Got Exemplary Customer Service Really Covered?

  • 1.         Amazon
  • 2.         Apple
  • 3.         Nordstrom
  • 4.         Lush
  • 5.         First Direct
  • 6.         LL Bean
  • 7.         Air Asia
  • 8.         Uber
  • 9.         Net-A-Porter
  • 10.      Worldwide Stereo

 

Let’s take a closer look to see how these brands have a made real difference to their customers’ lives, and consequently massively grown their profits too.

 

 

Case Study #1 AmazonLet the Customer Rule

How Amazon created a brand around its customers?

When it comes to perceived value and web-based customer service, Amazon wins hands down. It has repeatedly demonstrated to the world that, when done correctly, with meticulous attention to detail and tireless focus, they are the byword for customer service. In reality, despite many detractors and ever-growing competition, the retail, or rather the e-tail giant, has proved that customer service is a fine art. It’s no wonder than many fail, despite best intentions.

  

The core vision

One of the reasons Amazon excels at customer service is because their core vision blends in with their founder’s original mission seamlessly — make customers the primary focus and deliver unflagging perceived value. They’ve built their entire customer service brand strategy, and in extension, their brand around this mission.

 

 

 

 

 

USPs:

What stands out first is their incredible returns policy, which is the first thing to reassure the buyer that they will be taken care of, even if they dislike their purchase. In other words, their money is safe, if in doubt.

 

Another outstanding feature is the Amazon fast response times. Unlike many other instances where a customer might hold for an eternity on their phone, waiting for customer service with other brands, with Amazon you connect swiftly.

 

With the recent additions to their call service centers, thorough follow-ups, and thoughtful tips for buyers, Amazon has consistently continued to prove that it is the guru of customer service. [1]

 

Lesson Learned:

Consistent reliability, every time

 

 

Case Study #2 AppleIs this an iPhone 6s?

How the brand inspires pride and ownership?

Technology companies in general have delivered an overall great customer service experience, which when you think of their reach, is not an easy task.

 

In the collaborative survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St. and research survey group Zogby Analytics, Apple had 40% of its customers vouching for its customer service. [2] For a company that has reinvented the word innovation, this figure is important.

 

How the brand functions?

First comes the customer, followed by the technology. Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology.”

 

Powerful words that still define the way the company works. It is a brand that stands for exclusivity and innovation. Today it is also a brand that stands for its customers. [3]

 

USPs:

Its customer satisfaction rating has improved by nearly 5 percent from 2014, helping it move its way closer to the top spot in the customer service Hall of Fame. Apple’s increased sales figures, a 30 percent increase in 2015 from the year before, also suggest a satisfied customer base.

 

Apple Store San Francisco

Image via www.msn.com, © AP Photo/Eric Risberg

 

 

What’s more, it has also ranked exceptionally high, a 4 out of 5, for employee satisfaction. Employees not only take pride in working here but they also identify with the brand and are active champions of the brand, a fact that reflects in their customer service and in the way customers identify with the brand.

 

In order to excel you have to innovate. You also have to identify a need and fulfill it and then ensure that the service you provide is truly exemplary. From the product design to the unique Genius bar, Apple has ensured that customer experience is not just good, but unique every time.

 

Lesson Learned:

How Apple does it? They innovate. Every time.

 

 

Hugh Mac Leod Gapingvoid Creativity Is The Fuel

Image via www.gapingvoid.com, © Hugh MacLeod

 

 

Case Study #3 NordstromLuxury is Approachable

How the brand has been reinvented?

The luxury brand has become the absolute role model for customer service with their seamless returns policy. The atmosphere is still that much loved and wonderful blend of convivial warmth together with subdued luxury tones, that makes shopping there a really enjoyable experience.

 

Their customer service agents are helpful, well trained and knowledgeable. While their recent policies have included more frequent promotions, their teams have been simultaneously trained to deal with the increased foot-fall and expanded customer mix.

 

Nordstorm 600px

Image via http://i.cbc.ca

 

 

USPs:

According to experts, what stands out however is their incredible price-matching policy across the country, similar to John Lewis in the UK. If an item has a price-drop anywhere else, no matter which store it is, they’ll match that price right away for their customer. [4]

 

Online shoppers can even get benefits like free shipping on every order and paid return shipping. The brand message has slowly evolved from classic to timeless and secure with customers made to feel important and cared for.

 

Lesson Learned:

Feel good luxury

 

 

Case Study #4 LushBeauty is Naturally Indulgent

What should be the brand focus?

Putting a definite smile on their customer faces is the focus for natural cosmetics firm Lush, with the help of their welcoming and very knowledgeable staff. The ‘happy atmosphere’ of the store enfolds customers like a welcome balm, who typically leave with or without buying, feeling in a better mood and good about themselves.

 

They garnered a whopping 89 percent of the votes and came out as the winner among UK’s top brands. According to the leading industry surveys from KPMG Nunwood and Which?, retail brands like Lush have made significant impact with their customers and consequently increased sales, simply by creating the right environment for their customers consistently. [5]

 

USPs:

Most people would think that a brand like Lush has been built on the premise that they are offering an exemplary range of products. Actually, when you look closely you will see that their entire brand strategy is focused on making their customers feel good and confident through their exemplary natural products, coupled with their proactive CSR strategy and giving back for greater social good. A fine difference but difference nevertheless.

 

Lesson Learned:

Create a brand personality associated with a warm and happy feeling, together with giving back for the greater good. People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards — regardless of gender or cultural background, so you must win the heart first if you want to move the mind.

 

Lush 600px

Image via www.thisismoney.co.uk, ©Alamy

  

  

Case Study #5 First Direct – Your Money is Safe

First Direct was a close second with 86 percent of the votes, no doubt ruing its fall from the winning position that they held the year before. But it has nevertheless carried on its tradition of great customer service, which has been reflected in the surveys.

 

Much praise was heaped on it for its high-profile switching deals, as well as making the change process really easy for customers too.

 

Lesson Learned:

Making money management easy

 

 

Case Study #6 – LL Bean – You are the Heritage

Across the Atlantic it is LL Bean which came out on top. The heritage retailer has received five stars for its outstanding customer service and courtesy that left customers feeling positively happy, a word that is often not often associated with customer service today. Worth noting when you consider that according to another study, nearly one third of all consumers would rather clean a toilet than talk to most companys’ customer service agents! All LL Bean customers are responded to and quickly, one can even speak to an LL Bean representative in close to 30 seconds and get email responses within an hour.

 

Lesson Learned:

So what makes LL Bean so popular? They have made their brand easily identifiable for each and every customer by being so approachable. One just doesn’t take pride in the product but spreads the word for others.

 

Ll Bean Boots 600px

Image via http://www.businessinsider.com, Flickr/jimshooz7

  

  

Case Study #7 AirAsiaConnecting Anywhere, Anytime

How to overcome existing barriers?

We live in the age of constant connection and social media and this list would be incomplete with at least one brand that rules that space. The winner surprisingly is an airline, a category that has been historically notorious about customer service.

 

 

 Air Asia Airline 600px

Image via www.tommyooi.com

 

 

In an age where news, especially bad news, spreads faster than we can blink, keeping up with great customer service is a definite challenge. AirAsia, with JetBlue a close second, has changed our perceptions about customer service and interaction in the airline industry.

 

How have they succeeded?

 

Mastering the emerging technologies

With an outstanding Facebook presence, easy to navigate and helpful web pages, fast customer response time across all social and online platforms, AirAsia is rocking the virtual space.

They have over 3 million likes on their Facebook page which is not just a content sharing space but one where they have actively engaged their customers and readers.

They respond.

 

They make it a point to respond to all queries and comments and fast. Their representatives are always friendly and personable and available 24×7.

Fun promotions like “Free Seats Challenge,” one that offers 12 winning customers a year’s worth of free seats on flights doesn’t hurt either.

 

Lessons Learned:

You can reinvent around perceived barriers.

 

They have reinvented their brand by reinventing the way we look at airlines today. Instead of expecting hassles and hold-ups, one can experience instant connection and responses.

 

It immediately changes brand perceptions as it simultaneously engenders customer confidence and goodwill, before they potentially become irate — which is particularly important in a sector where unscheduled delays or unpredictable problems can make travelling more arduous.

 

 

Case Study #8 Uber – Customer Service Redefined

How a new brand becomes a giant?

Expert reports have revealed one brand that has been touching the thousand to million mark, in terms of customer service, and across the world it’s Uber. [6]

 

What started as simply easing of commute worries has now transformed into a whole new concept of transportation. With its ingenious and virtually seamless innovations it has now integrated itself into our daily lives together with a very robust customer following. Very soon, we will see it as a one-stop travel planner too.

 

Lessons Learned:

Identify a need, even in a crowded marketplace.

Innovate a service by adopting the latest technologies.

 

Uber 600px

Image via www.sfexaminer.com

 

 

Small and New Can Win Too

 

Case Study #9 Net-A-Porter – Be a Relaxed Shopper

The online retailer came next for its best phone-based customer service, an aspect of business very few brands can testify to.

 

Their outstanding one-to-one communication, in this era of mass communiqués have touched hearts and moved minds.

 

It is still a growing brand but it has effortlessly managed to hold its own against the goliaths by virtue of its incredible customer service.

 

Lessons Learned:

This focus on customer has indeed paid off with spreading word-of-mouth referrals.

Word-of-mouth, after all, is still the strongest brand strategy when leveraged for the right reasons.

 

 

Case Study #10 Worldwide Stereo – Customer is King

 

It’s not always the giants that rule either. In the world of behemoths, one small company that has made its mark in sales and customer service is the World Wide Stereo.

 

 

 

 

 

This electronics and audio store not only offers an amazing (and ever-increasing) array of innovative products, but has also garnered a reputation for its stellar customer service.

 

It’s fast becoming the place-to-go when you want an out of the box product that no one else has — and which often has sizable discounts too.

How they do it?

 

They hold their own against the big retail brands with their expedited two day delivery, and even a free next day delivery in some cases.

 

 

 Worldwide Stereo

Image via http://membrane.com

 

 

They stand by their products and are known to quietly upgrade orders and deliver a faster and better service. They even boast a custom home installation team, something many of us have never even heard of in this twenty-first century. [7]

 

Lesson Learned:

They have created a brand that stands for the customer, all the way.

 

 

Building a Brand with Customers at its Heart

According to the StellaService report, the brands that measured well are accessible to their customers via multiple channels: phone, email, online live chats, and have outstanding shipping and return policies too. [8]

 

 

Delivering Value

When we look at all the brands that have made it to the top positions for customer service, we see one thing in common – perceived brand value.

 

When you analyze performance more closely these brands have taken that concept to a completely new level. This is not the value for money concept in terms of the cheapest solution but rather the complete brand experience and the perceived increased brand value that engenders with its customers.

 

A great case in point is a premium brand like Apple with a premium pricing strategy – it is considered a top brand that offers value because of its outstanding product quality and great service. Every customer interaction is focused at making customers feel important while ensuring the product is accessible so it enhances peoples’ lives.

 

Customers need to be able to count on their favoured brands and the brands in turn have to focus on meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations, and work their deliverables around those expectations.

 

Amazon delivered innovative support through their May Day button on the new kindle, where customers get support at the click of a button from a live person. No calls, no hold times, no chats and no waiting for email responses. This close attention to detail is what creates a sustainable brand. This is the value all brands should strive for.

 

Brands working on reinventing themselves or on their way to create a distinctive brand presence should focus not just on their products and sales, but also on their after sales service because word-of-mouth is still the strongest sales voice in the field.

 

A quick look at preferred customer service attributes:

  • Time Saver
  • Fast Turnaround
  • Price Match
  • Great Positive Emotive Feelings
  • Great service

 

 

Monopoly is so Last Year

There is also much to learn from the brands that did not do so well in the surveys and consequently what not to do! Interestingly, cable, satellite and wireless service providers reportedly fared quite badly on both sides of the Atlantic. Their long-running problems with low customer satisfaction are unfortunately very much a part of negative customer experiences according to the latest industry surveys.

 

 

What not to do

According to customer ranking research and survey results, despite the continued poor performance they still appear to suffer from a lack of urgency to improve the quality of their customer interactions. This could explain the continued customer complaints and dissatisfaction. [9]

 

One reason for this apathy could be the limited competition these companies face which somehow undermines the need for appeasing the customer faster, but hardly anything can explain this sectors indifferent attitudes reportedly experienced a little too frequently. The moment there is a new kid on the block, a challenger, disruptor and innovator, no matter how small, customers will switch.

 

 

Key Learnings to Consider:

•  A brand is built through its service – both sales and customer service

• If customer experience isn’t one of your top priorities long term, you’ll lose

•  Be reachable, always, anytime on multiple platforms

•  Expect what the customer expects, exceed their needs and design your service to meet those demands

• Innovation is the key to keeping customers engaged

•  Never be too complacent for the next big thing is always round the corner

•  Engage the customer on social media

•  Customer service is must and core to your successful brand strategy

•  Value is not low price, it is a great consistent brand experience

•  Offer true value, every time

 

 

Questions to Consider:

• Do you know what your customers really want? When did you last conduct a brand audit health check?

 

• Have you made your customers central to your long-term goals, or is it still revenue? It’s never about just the money.

 

• Do you have a robust team in place to deliver world-class customer service, 24×7? Are they also well-trained and fully inducted brand champions?

 

• Is your brand strategy totally sales based or is it customer service focused as well?

 

• Are you creating a sustainable brand through your customer support network?

 

• Are your customers talking about your brand beyond their brand interactions? Have you integrated a CSR strategy into your brand strategy?

 

• Do you offer true brand value in terms of a complete brand experience?

 

 

You may also like:

 

Brand Profiling: How Brand Performance and Purpose are Inextricably Linked

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling  

 

The Profit Power of Cult Brands, Why and How to Create One

 

Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know  

 

Brand Revitalisation and Relaunch: The do’s and don’ts of doing it successfully!

 

Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

 

Co-Branding: 13 Tips for Growing Your Brand Through Strategic Partnerships

  

 

[1] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[2] 24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015

[3] Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, 24/7 Wall St.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/07/24/24-7-wall-st-customer-service-hall-fame/30599943/, August 2015

[4] Matt Granite, Money Expert, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/04/22/save-of-the-week-best-customer-service/26180985/, ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[5] Which? Survey, http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/shopping-grooming-and-wellbeing/reviews-ns/best-and-worst-brands-for-customer-service/100-big-brands-rated-for-customer-service/, ‘Best and worst brands for customer service: 100 big brands rated for customer service’, May 2015

[6] Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily, http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7578-social-media-customer-service.html#sthash.pFzb6Eu5.dpuf, 10 Companies That Totally Rock Customer Service on Social Media’, December 2014

[7] Matt Granite, Money Expert, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20QoVsWsD58 ‘The top 5 companies for customer service’. April 2015

[8] STELLA BENCHMARKS, https://stellaservice.com/benchmarks/, 2015

[9]   24/7 Wall Street, http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/generalmoney/the-2015-customer-service-hall-of-shame-and-fame/ar-AAdiO5T, ‘ Companies with the best customer service’, July 2015 

 

 

Rebranding: Crisis Recovery and Brand Rebuild

In the first quarter of 2015, SDL conducted a survey of almost 3,000 customers and found four out of five would walk away from a brand and never give it another chance after experiencing a major issue.

 

That statistic explains why some brands have no choice but to rebrand in an attempt to resolve crises. Furthermore, of the people who return to a brand after being let down, 59 percent of them show less loyalty than before. [1]

 

Have you given some thought to how to mitigate potential risks to your brand? Do you have an appropriate brand crises management strategy in place in the event of the untoward happening?

 

Here we’ll share with you some of the critical issues you need to consider both in terms of how to rebrand and rebuild customer brand trust after a crisis.

 

Reasons to Rebrand

 

This article will focus on the need to rebrand in order to make a strong comeback after a crisis. However, there are other reasons to tackle rebranding, including: [2]

 

  • Your audience is changing, and rebranding is necessary to maintain brand relevance
  • Desire to move into an international market
  • Outgrowth: You’ve outgrown your brand in its earlier context and need to align more closely to current, larger needs
  • Customers aren’t sure what you do or what you offer. Your brand lacks distinction or difference
  • Competitors are eating into your market and enticing customers away
  • Name change
  • Brand is outdated and lacks relevance
  • Innovation: New technology has changed your market and your brand needs to change with it

 

 

Preparatory and Recovery Measures to Minimize Crises

 

Although you can’t ascertain definitively when problems might occur and what they will entail, it’s important to be aware of the potential threats your brand might face. Those can be identified through a brand audit and SWOT analysis, plus customer feedback. Sometimes, potential threats become apparent because of mass cultural feedback.

 

 

CASE STUDY 1: Page 1 Solutions

 

In July 2015, a dentist sparked worldwide outrage when he went on a game-hunting trip in Zimbabwe and killed Cecil, a beloved lion. Although officials have concluded the dentist’s actions were legal and he cannot be charged [3], people immediately took to the internet to vent their extreme displeasure over Cecil’s death.  

 

 

 Shouting Man 600px

 

 

Page 1 Solutions, a marketing firm that had once represented Palmer, was caught in the fray. Even though the firm had not been associated with Palmer since 2013, the public accused Page 1 Solutions of trying to defend the dentist. [4]

 

The marketing firm’s president clarified Palmer had not been on the client roster for a couple of years. However, public outrage continued to affect the small business.

 

Page 1 Solutions released several subsequent statements, and members of the company’s social media team responded to messages personally.  Other employees reached out to current clients and corrected misunderstandings. Local news branches were also contacted, and the CEO gave several interviews. Although company representatives say the unexpected catastrophe made their establishment stronger, they also recognized the need to develop a crisis plan for future issues.

 

Once you have identified potential threats to your brand, it’s critical to develop and document your brand strategy [5] to deal with them. Your crisis plan should include things such as:

 

  • A defined team to handle crises
  • A media coverage policy
  • Contact information and a contact log
  • Boilerplate information for press releases, plus fact sheets
  • A social media strategy

 

During the recovery process, the crisis plan should keep your actions purposeful and targeted, reducing the chances you’ll forget to attend to the needs and worries of stakeholders.

 

  

Focusing on the Desired Outcomes of Rebranding

 

If you’ve experienced a brand crisis, and post-event analyses indicates too much reputation damage has occurred to fully recover from, then it may be necessary to consider rebranding. However before you launch into a full-scale rebrand you need to determine what your desired outcomes are from rebranding your product, service or company. [6] Typically these might include:

 

  • Solve a problem that has tarnished the brand
  • Correct a damaging story that’s surrounding the brand
  • Disconnect from an association that is harmful or no longer meaningful or relevant from a customer perspective
  • Keep pace with competitors that are outperforming the brand

 

 

Actionable Strategies for Rebranding After a Crisis

 

Unintentional blunders are always possible during a rebrand if it’s not carefully planned, developed, managed and executed. You can minimize these oversights by integrating some of the steps mentioned below.

 

 

Decide if a Complete Rebrand is Truly Necessary

 

Depending on the severity of a crisis, it can sometimes be difficult to fully determine whether it’s better to fix the factors that have caused the brand to falter, or wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.

 

Making the choice can become even more difficult if a crisis has attracted a great deal of media attention. Independent external analysis can be useful to help put things into perspective so informed and unprejudiced decisions can be made.

 

 

CASE STUDY 2: Malaysia Airlines

 

2014 was a difficult time for Malaysia Airlines, as it was the year one of its flights went missing, and another was reportedly downed by a Russian missile. For weeks, the brand received constant negative media exposure, making people wonder if it would ever recover.

 

Although a complete rebranding is in the works, there are few details about it.[7]  Therefore, some industry analysts suggest it would be better to refresh the brand so as to not lose certain favorable associations or the perceived value of the brand’s equity. [8].

 

  

  

  

The airline was established in 1937. With that long history comes an undeniable amount of brand equity and awareness. Malaysia Airlines already had declining profits before the disasters of 2014, and it would be very expensive, indeed required considerable investment, to create a similar level of awareness after a rebrand. Although it remains to be seen what Malaysia Airlines will do in an attempt to recover, it’s clear the brand has a tough road ahead.

 

 

Rebranding and Crises Recovery Tips

 

1. Maintain Ongoing Communications: A rebrand risks alienating your audience. Avoid that possibility by keeping in touch through open, transparent dialogue.

 

2. Involve Skilled People: Rebranding will likely require a specialized team. As you give feedback during a rebrand, remember the people you’ve hired have gone through rebrand and crises challenges before and should be best positioned to provide expert direction on how to best handle yours.

 

3. Make All-Encompassing Changes During the Rebrand: Some companies make the costly mistake of thinking it’s sufficient to merely create a new company logo, change the brand collateral or switch employee uniforms to make people forget about a crisis. Instead, understand that major changes will have to be instigated across your entire organization, which will also typically require brand cultural changes together with both management and general staff brand induction and re-training, if you want to ensure your rebrand is a success.

 

 

CASE STUDY 3: LIVESTRONG Foundation

 

When it was discovered that cyclist Lance Armstrong had been taking performance-enhancing drugs for over a decade, yet had reportedly denied doing so, LIVESTRONG realized it needed to cut ties with the athlete. Meanwhile, Armstrong went on an “apology tour” and visited media outlets.

 

It began by changing its name from LIVESTRONG to the LIVESTRONG Foundation, launching a new identity, and reminding the public of the brand’s fundamental values and focus on helping people affected by cancer, not the actions of one person who’s a cancer survivor. [9]

  

  

  

  

The brand tapped into the public recognition of the foundation’s bright yellow hue and kicked off a campaign about cancer’s impact and what’s needed to address it. [10] The teams handling the rebranding deemed the project successful, and subsequent media coverage was positive.

 

 

Livestrong 600px 

Image via blog.livestrong.org

 

 

Rebranding and Crises Recovery Tip 4

 

Influence the Conversation: During a rebrand, it may be necessary to bring a new voice to the conversation. That’s especially likely if your brand has gone through a crisis that has caused people to speak badly about your products or services.

 

 

Case Study 4: Maggi Noodles

 

In June 2014, Maggi, a leading Indian noodle brand, marketed by Nestlé, was removed from the market when tests reportedly revealed lead content and found the product was mislabeled regarding monosodium glutamate (MSG). A Global Chief Executive from Nestlé stated the noodles were safe, but shortly afterwards, the company was unable to confirm when the noodles would be available to purchase again. [11]

 

By September, Maggi decided it would go against a characteristic aversion to publicity. Part of that initiative involved encouraging people to recall fond memories of eating Maggi noodles, complete with nostalgic media spots and the #WeMissYouToo hashtag.

 

Nestlé believed by changing and moving the conversation towards something emotionally more positive, people would begin to trust the brand again. [12] When Maggi noodles were offered for sale, the brand capitalized on a “Welcome Back” theme.

 

 

 Maggi Noodles 600px

Image via http://www.maggi.in

 

 

Rebranding and Crises Recovery Tip 5

 

Measure the Worth of the Rebrand: There are several metrics that can be examined to evaluate whether your rebrand was a success. Some forms of measurement include customer engagement levels, quarterly profits, and feedback surveys about perceptions.

  

  

  

  

  

The exact elements of a rebranding campaign will vary depending on the crisis a brand has dealt with, but whatever the circumstances rebranding is far more than just changing a logo and colour scheme. Rather, it often entails fundamentally changing or evolving what the brand ‘stands for’ through brand profiling; values, mission, vision, promise, personality, culture and goals, not to mention ensuring the rebrand is well positioned in the marketplace and fully understood by its target audience.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • A crisis plan will help your brand respond strategically to mishaps without losing focus
  • Desired outcomes and key objectives should be fully established before proceeding with a rebrand
  • If issues can be remedied, a complete rebrand may not be necessary
  • A successful rebranding requires being transparent and fully engaged with your customers, stakeholders and the public at large

 

 

Questions to Consider

  

  • Does your brand have a crisis plan, or are you working to develop one?

   

  • How would you evaluate your company’s brand strategy and performance the last time it had to deal with something unexpected?

  

  

  • Has your brand had to disconnect from a harmful association, as the LIVESTRONG Foundation did?

  

  • Do you think nostalgia will be powerful enough to restore the Maggi Noodles brand?

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

   

• Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

  

[1] http://www.sdl.com “Avoiding CX Failure Fallout,” May 2015.

[2] Wendy Bolhuis, http://www.vim-group.com/, “The Top 10 Reasons for Rebranding,” June 2014.

[3] Reuters in Harare, http://www.theguardian.com, “Cecil the Lion: Zimbabwe Will Not Charge U.S. Dentist Over Killing,” October 2015.

[4] Adam Rowan, http://www.prdily.com, “What a Marketing Firm Did When a Former Client Killed Cecil the Lion,” December 2015.

[5] Jonathan Bernstein, “The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications,” 2013.

[6] David Brier,  http://www.risingabovethenoise.com, “How to Rebrand: 19 Questions to Ask Before You Start”

[7] Marcus Osborne, http://www.brandinginasia,.com, “Malaysia Airlines Rebrand is Coming: How Big Will it Be?,” December 2015.

[8] Mark Ritson, http://www.marketingweek.com, “Malaysia Airlines: Fix, Don’t Nix the Brand,”July 2014.

[9] http://www.corporate-eye, “Livestrong Rebrands as Livestrong Foundation Without Lance Armstrong, March 2013.

[10] Rigsby Hull, http://www.aiga.org, Case Study: LIVESTRONG Branding, November 2013.

[11] Ratna Bhushan, http://articles.economictimes.india.com/, “Maggi Noodle Fiasco: Nestle Works On Alternative Snack to Reposition Brand,” June 2015.

[12] Jacob Schindler, http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com, “Nestlé Taps into Nostalgia in Bid to Re-Launch Maggi Brand in India.” September 2015.

 

Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

From public transit advertising to shop displays, analysts believe we are exposed to up to 5,000 instances of branding exposure messages per day.[1]

 

That extreme saturation of the market place is why it’s so crucial to be aware of the health of your brand, and make changes if necessary. The first step in achieving that awareness comes through a brand audit health check.

 

 

Why Are Brand Audit Heath Checks Valuable?

 

A brand audit health check is an examination of the current state of your brand. Branding defines a company or product’s identity, both to internal and external stakeholders.

 

Examples of internal stakeholders include managers, employees, and board members. Suppliers, customers, community members and sponsors are possible external stakeholders. A brand audit health check helps determine how these stakeholders see your brand[2] and whether it’s necessary to make changes that would improve or clarify those perceptions.

 

Potential situations when it may be necessary to perform a brand audit include:

 

  • Your brand’s market share is declining
  • You are considering extending your brand to a new product category
  • You are uncertain about the strength of your brand in relation to its competitive offerings
  • You want to develop a more extensive overall branding plan
  • You’re unaware of your brand’s weaknesses

 

  

   

  

 

Internal Versus External Brand Audits

 

An internal brand audit examines how staff members, managers and other members of the company brand perceive the brand. Conversely, an external audit usually looks at a segment of external stakeholders. When doing an external audit, you may want to consider researching both current customers and former customers, and members of the target audience who are currently loyal to other brands, but you’d like them to consider your brand instead.

 

 

Two and Five-Step Brand Audit Methodologies

 

The methodologies, extent, and depth of brand audits vary depending on your primary objectives, time, resources and other commercial imperatives.

However you’ll generally want to look at five key areas: [3]

 

  • The Branding Strategy: This involves a careful examination of your company’s business and marketing plans, measured against what your brand is supposed to represent. During this phase, identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses, plus potential opportunities and threats. This practice is often referred to as a SWOT analysis.  Furthermore, scrutinize future plans that support your brand.

 

  • Branding Communications: Look at current and past advertising, PR activities, promotional materials, including your brand’s website[4] and social media profiles. Messages across all your brand platforms and customer touchpoints should be consistent, relevant, concise and clear, and most importantly tailored to meet the needs of your primary audience. If you find customers visit your website but don’t stick around, or that those visits never convert into profitable outcomes, it may be time to revitalize or rebrand your web presence. It’s also worthwhile to re-examine press releases, press kits, and employee training materials.

 

  • How Customers Get to the Point of Choosing Your Brand: Do research to see which factors cause customers to shop for your brand and ultimately choose it over competitors. Re-evaluate your customer journey. While working with clients, we always remind them that understanding the customers’ processes can be extremely valuable. Customer feedback gained through surveys and focus groups could be a very useful resource.

 

  • An In-Depth Customer Analysis: If your budget allows for it, a customer analysis should include both qualitative and quantitative studies. Find out how likely customers are to embrace your brand. There are numerous factors that contribute to brand loyalty, including attitude towards the brand, perception of the brand, and overall awareness.

 

 

If for whatever reason you’re not able to perform a brand audit with more depth as indicated above, [5] it’s also possible to do a two-stage process that includes:

 

  • Your Current Identity: Factors examined here should include your company’s brand name, slogan, brand collateral, personality and tone. In conducting this type of brand audit, you can often do valuable research amongst your primary audience by posing open-ended questions to your various stakeholders.

 

  • Your Brand Strategy: Establishing whether your brand’s marketing efforts are worthwhile means looking at the level of brand awareness in your target demographic, examining what your competitors are doing well, and identifying their shortcomings, and evaluating data related to your website traffic and engagement, together with any other brand communication activities.

 

 

 

Deciding What to Do After a Brand Audit Health Check

 

The data collected from your auditing process can be extremely revealing. Findings will help determine whether a brand refresh is most appropriate, or a more radical overhaul with a complete rebranding. When working with clients, we often find they feel somewhat overwhelmed by all the results from their brand’s health check. However when all the key elements are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks and each element is addressed systematically it is far more feasible compared to addressing the whole picture at one go!

  

 

Case Study: MadeSmart Housewares Refreshes Its Brand

 

For two decades, MadeSmart was a housewares brand that primarily provided private label offerings for licensing. When economic conditions changed, brand executives found MadeSmart did not have a sufficiently distinctive brand voice in the marketplace and was not strongly positioned enough for future growth.

 

  Made Smart Single Thought

Image via www.madesmart.com

 

  

The brand audit conducted for MadeSmart established that the brand was out of alignment with the marketplace, and the direction planned by the company. As part of the brand audit and brand profiling processes the brand was redefined, together with its promise and values, re-evaluated, re-positioned and updated to become more relevant to not only the marketplace and the brand’s primary target audience but also its future aspirations and growth plans.

 

  Made Smart New Packaging

Image via www.madesmart.com

 

  

 

MadeSmart’s brand identity in terms of their logo, advertising, signage, and website were some of the brand collateral that were redesigned following the brand audit too. The brand audit delivered positive growth with its branding refresh and received enthusiastic feedback from both clients and the local press. [6]

 

   Made Smart Home Pg1

Image via www.madesmart.com

  

  

   

Case Study: Monsanto Seeks to Improve Brand Perception Among Staff Members

 

Monsanto, a multinational biotechnology company, felt it needed to encourage its staff to become more effective brand ambassadors whilst also enhancing their brand loyalty and engagement with company’s brand values. Monsanto hired a company to perform an internal brand audit, during which changes were suggested for the brand’s internal brand collateral, website design and visual identity, among other things. [7]

 

   Monsanto Home Pg1

Image via www.monsanto.com

 

 

 

When the results of this work were evaluated via a survey, researchers found employees had a better perception of Monsanto, and were more likely to be loyal to the brand and consequently champion the brand. In short the strategies implemented after the brand audit were deemed very successful.

 

  

 

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Brand audit health checks are very useful in identifying how internal and external stakeholders see your brand

 

 

  • When examining the ways in which your brand’s messaging is communicated, be sure to evaluate both your online and offline presence

 

  • Find out what triggers your customers to choose your brand over your competitors, and the likelihood of those customers fully embracing your brand. Also, examine how employees perceive your brand—is it aligned with the external market?

 

  • The brand audit health check is the first step in evaluating whether you need to make changes in order to maintain or re-establish relevance in the marketplace

 

 

Questions to Consider:

 

 

  • What are some examples of key stakeholders you may have been overlooking in your day-to-day business operations?

 

  • Have you received feedback that indicates your brand’s messaging is not as clear as it could be?

 

  • Can you identify some systemized, yet easily applied, methodologies that could be used to get feedback from customers and employees alike, while also offering incentives to them?

 

  • Are you able to recall at least one instance where a brand that’s familiar to you performed a complete rebranding process? Would you consider it to have been a successful venture?

 

 

You may also like:

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can it be Improved?

    

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

   

• Colour in Brand Strategy: Colour Psychology and How it Influences Branding

     

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

  

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

    

• Rebranding Strategy: Gems of Wisdom from 5 Successful Brand Revitalizations

   

• Brand Voice: Differentiating Through Your Own Brand Language and Attitude

 

• CEO Brand Leadership: How Does Your Leadership Impact Your Brand?

 

 

[1] Mike Huber, http://www.verticalmeasures.com/, “Why You Need a Content Marketing Budget for 2016”, September 2015

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/, “Business Studies: Stakeholders”

[3] Les Kollegian, http://www.entrepreneur.com/, “Do You Stand by Your Brand? It’s Time for an Audit”, January 2014

[4] Asmat Batul, https://blog.kissmetrics.com/, “How and Why You Should Conduct a Brand Audit”

[5] Brad VanAuken, http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com, November 2007

[6] http://www.aiga.org/, “Case Study: MadeSmart Housewares Brand Refresh”, November 2011

[7] http://www.theaffiniti.com

 

Rebranding Strategy: Gems of Wisdom from 5 Successful Brand Revitalizations

Rebranding is a relatively broad term, as it encompasses both large and small-scale changes to an existing brand, which aim to resurrect a failing brand, reposition the brand and allow the company to reach out to a new target market, or simply help the brand keep up with the times.

  

While some brands adopt a “back to the drawing board” strategy and change everything from their logo and name to their brand values and product packaging design, a good brand revitalization strategy can sometimes be limited to a few low-key changes that enable the brand to stay relevant or differentiate itself from the competition.   

 

 

When Should a Company Invest in a Rebrand?

An impressive 61% of consumers stated that an exceptional customer experience was a major determining factor when choosing a brand, and 48% of consumers expect brands to understand their needs and assist them in finding the right product and services based on those needs.[1]

   

    

Digital Trends Target The Always On Consumer 600px 

Infographic via Cube.com [Digital Trends Target the Always-On Consumer]

  

  

Brands that have trouble understanding or catering to the customers’ needs are prime candidates for a brand relaunch, but a company can also have trouble with brand incongruence, a tarnished reputation or pressure from the competition.

 

However, the reasons for a rebrand can also be of a positive nature – a brand may experience rapid growth, as well as significant changes in the production process or the expansion of their product portfolio due technological innovations. Repositioning an economy brand as a high-end brand is another good reason for rebranding.

  

Since a successful rebrand involves performing a brand audit, market research, developing a detailed brand implementation strategy and effectively communicating the rebrand to customers and media, it is not recommended for young brands. You must have a well-established brand identity and a good level of brand awareness before you can embark on a brand revitalization journey.
 

 

Lessons Learned from 5 Successful Rebranding Strategies

1.   Harley-Davidson – Improve the Actual Product

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company initially had many advantages over their competition. For one, the brand had a purebred American provenance, a long history – their motorcycles were used by the US army in both World Wars – and were associated with an image of a powerful, fearless and rebellious man and an adventurous lifestyle that was alluring to a fairly large percentage of men in their mid-twenties and mid-thirties.

  

The brand had a good story tell, but the company still had numerous problems over the years, and faced bankruptcy on more than one occasion. The main issues that the company faced were:

  • Their products were objectively less reliable than what their competition had to offer
  • They faced very aggressive competition from a number of quality Japanese brands
  • The brand had become associated with biker gangs, notably the Hells Angels
  • They were seen as old-fashioned and outdated

 

In other words, Harley-Davidson had to address their reputation issues or face extinction. However, this was not something that could be fixed by merely changing the logo – their products didn’t meet the quality standards that the customers were accustomed to and they didn’t appeal to the younger generation. The brand actually adopted an incredibly smart strategy – spend less money on marketing and focus on making the product better.

  

 

Harley Davidson Free Wheeler 600px

Image via www.harley-davidson.com

 

 

Once they worked out all the little problems that had plagued their motorcycles, the company experienced impressive growth – Harley-Davidson, a brand that was on the verge of bankruptcy twice before, is now worth around $1 billion.  

 

The company still faces a big problem, their average customer is a white American male pushing fifty, but they have shown that they are ready to reach out to a more ethnically diverse and younger target audience. The brand plans to shift its focus towards marketing in 2016. [2]

 

 

2. Massey Bros. – Leverage Your Premium Service, Tell Your Brand Story and Ensure Your Brand Identity Creates Distinction

Massey Bros. Funeral Directors is a successful family owned and managed business established in Dublin in the 1930s. They operate in a sector which is traditionally very conservative yet they’re industry leaders in terms of developing innovative solutions. They also have the added complication of having more than six competitors also operating legitimately under the ‘Massey’ name. In addition to this, they themselves also operated under two names before their rebrand!

  

  

Massey Bros Logo 2012 72dpi

 

 

Massey Bros. have always offered a very premium service but this five star, tailor made, message, their industry leadership coupled with their multiple first to market new innovative services solutions just wasn’t been properly represented in their brand profile, tone-of-voice or brand communications strategy. They also lacked a strong brand identity or consistency across their brand collateral.

  

  

Massey Bros Brand Guidelines Cover

 

 

We conducted research and a brand audit health check, re-evaluated their whole brand proposition and purpose, their positioning, signage, uniforms, brand collateral and brand strategy. The outputs and findings from this initial body of work then provided the direction for a complete brand overhaul resulting in absolute clarity over their brand proposition, a much stronger brand identity, a higher profile with distinction in the marketplace, consistency across all the brand collateral and most importantly strong staff brand custodians throughout the business that continue to pro-actively manage their brand in the marketplace. And of course, increased market share. You can read the full details of this rebranding case study here.

 

 

3. Target – Know Your Audience and Keep Things Simple

Target was initially envisioned as a brand that catered to a somewhat more sophisticated shopper, a person looking for a more sophisticated shopping experience than one would normally find in extremely low-priced stores like Walmart, but who also wanted that stay within a reasonable budget. The problem was that, over the years, the “deal-hunting” aspect became more prominent, which essentially lead to Target being equated with the very same economy shopping experience that they originally strived to distance themselves from.

 

This caused brand incongruence, with fashionable clothes on one end and cheap food items on the other, and they simply could not compete with well-established economy brands that ruled this segment of the market.

 

Target performed a brand audit health check, and found that they were neglecting a very important demographic. In the words of Brian Cornell, Target chief executive: “Our guest is going to be increasingly a Hispanic shopper.” [3] The brand, realizing that over 50% of Hispanic Millennials identified Target as their preferred shopping destination, even created several Spanish-language adverts, with a unique hashtag – #SinTraducción (without translation).

  

   

  

  

 

Another big step towards engaging their primary audience was the decision to unite their smaller “mini urban stores” under the Target brand logo. The company previously distinguished these smaller outlets as TargetExpress and CityTarget.

 

 

 Target Express Store 600px

Image via Target.com [Target express store]

 

  

The logo design for the mini urban stores proved confusing, the words “express” and “city” were simply placed next to the classic bull’s-eye Target logo, and will only feature the Target logo going forward. With these changes, the brand has revitalized its image. However they still apparently have a bit further to go according to USA Today as things like the infamous 2013 security breach, and their latest OCD sweater has reportedly put their customers’ loyalty somewhat to the test.   

 

 

Target Ocd Sweater

 

  

  

4. Hybrid Technology Partners – Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself with a Poorly Thought Out Brand Identity 

 

Formerly known as HybridIT, this Limerick-based company offer a wide range of services, including IT, software development and customer support. They even offer a product – a unique business management ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. However, anyone who saw the “IT” in their brand name immediately thought of them as just another IT company. [4]

 

This prevented the company from accessing a larger market share, and the fact that their logo didn’t communicate their core brand message effectively threatened to keep HybridIT in the shadows. Luckily, this “more than just an IT” company caught on and decided to revitalize their brand.

 

   Hybrid Technology Partners

 

 

When working on creating appropriate brand identities for our clients, we focus on ensuring all the brand foundations have been fully developed using our Personality Profile Performer™ system before we even look at the aesthetics or design. The outputs from this system provide the roadmap for ensuring the brand identity outputs together with brand messaging and tone of voice are market and target audience appropriate, unique and in keeping a brand’s core values.

 

At first glance the change was subtle, they became HybridTP, but that one little letter was a monumental step in the right direction. The new brand identity, Hybrid Technology Partners made two things very clear:

  • The brand offers diverse technological solutions for streamlining a business
  • The company views its clients as partners, and works with them to find the best solutions

The new brand identity, coupled with some light modifications to their website, allowed HybridTP to convey their brand values – honesty, cooperation and trust – and connect with a much larger audience more effectively.

  

 

5. Narragansett Beer – Learn How to Appeal to Millennial Consumers

 

Pabst Blue Light used to be the beer of choice for blue-collar workers and hipster Millennials, but in recent years an old New England beer has stolen their title as the number one “cheap and cool” US beer.

 

The Narragansett brand has a long history, it was established 125 years ago, but the company recently made a very wise business decision and revitalised the brand, targeting Millennials. They didn’t stray away from their roots, their New England provenance, and long history being the key elements that distinguished the brand from the competition, but they did make some notable changes to the product packaging and re-evaluated their branding strategy.  

  

  

 

  

The old slogan, “Made on Honor, Sold on Merit”, remained unchanged, but with fun and colourful commercials, local girls photographed in the traditional pinup style for their calendar and increased social media activity, Narragansett has successfully made a transition into the digital age.

  

   

Narragansett Beer 2015 

Image via www.narragansettbeer.com

  

  

We know from personal experience that the Millennial demographic can be a powerful driving force that launches a struggling brand to new levels of success. Understanding both what makes their brand unique and what appeals to a Millennial audience, has allowed this low-priced craft beer to secure its position on the market. Saying that the rebrand was a success would be an understatement – the brand brought in $12 million in revenue last year, 120 times more than in 2005.[5]

   

These five successful rebrand stories all carry an important lesson for any struggling brand. A brand audit can help you reveal your weaknesses be it a problem with the quality of the product itself like in Harley Davidson’s case, an issue of brand incongruence, a dissonance between the brand logo and core brand values and the services offered by the company or a lack of awareness of your primary audience’s needs and preferences.

  

A brand relaunch is not something to be taken lightly or done for the pure sake of change, but if a brand has fallen on tough times, lacks relevance or isn’t leveraging its full potential with its target market, implementing a carefully planned brand revitalisation strategy is a big move in the right direction.     

     

You might also like:

 

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

   

• Rebranding Strategy: Using Premium Repositioning To Increase Profitability 

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Rebranding: How to Make It Through a Rebrand and Emerge Stronger 

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?

 

• Brand Naming: Top Ten Methods for Brand Name Creation    

 

• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  

 

 

So, what do you think?

  

• Does your brand have trouble staying relevant?

  

• Did you perform a brand health check to determine if there are any weak points you could improve upon?

  

• Are you targeting the right audience, and do you really understand the needs of your primary audience in terms of their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations?

  

• Are your products and services up to standards, or are you having problems keeping up with the competition?

  

• Is your brand identity consistent with your core values, and the type of products and services you offer, or is it unnecessarily pigeonholing you into a single niche?

   

[1] Steve, Cubemc.com, Digital Trends: Understanding and Targeting the ‘Always-On’ Consumer, April 2015

[2] Mark Ritson, Branding Strategy Insider, “Can The Harley Davidson Brand Age Gracefully?”, October 2015

[3] Sarah Halzack, WashingtonPost.com, “Target’s new strategy: We need more than just minivan moms”, March 2015

[4] IrishExaminer.com, Small Business Q&A: Paul Brown, September 2014

[5] Kristina Monllos, Adweek.com, “How Narragansett Beer Rebuilt Its Brand With a Meager $100,000 Media Budget, Deep roots and word of mouth”, June 2015