Rebranding: 15 Do’s and Don’ts for Brand Success

Since 1903, the Pepsi-Cola (and later Pepsi) logo has seen many changes and facelifts in the form of rebranding and revitalisations. Through the last 100-plus years, the logo has evolved from what we might consider today an old-fashioned typeface through many fresh new looks.

 

Image via Pepsi

 

But while it’s interesting to follow the evolution of a well-known brand, let’s be perfectly clear. Changing a logo, altering the colour or even tweaking the name is not a rebranding strategy. Rebranding is much more than a design facelift. It may result in the design of new logos and the creation of new brand names, but it all starts as with your brand strategy first long before anything else relating to design is considered.

 

It’s essential to note that branding is NOT marketing or design but the bedrock foundation underpinning your whole business so getting your rebranding strategy right is critical to your success. In short, your rebranding strategy provides the direction for all your marketing, communications, positioning, language, messaging along with design.

 

And there are many strategic reasons to rebrand. A company may need to rebrand to:

  1. Re-establish its market prominence
  2. Acknowledge and reflect a major acquisition
  3. Announce a new technology or invention that changes its mission and vision
  4. Revitalize the voice and significance of the brand
  5. Refocus the company around major customer and/or industry trends
  6. Reflect a strategic move to reach new markets
  7. Give new life to flagging sales
  8. Move beyond a negative event

 

Whatever the reason, the key is to use your rebranding to help move your business and its products and services forward. Regardless of whether you’re rebranding a bank, hotel, power company or canned fruit, having the right strategy makes all the difference.

 

 

Want to discover more about rebranding to build your standout, №1 powerhouse, premium priced brand working with us so you can increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind?

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s implement the plan together  
  4. Contact us brand@personadesign.ie or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)

 

One study of the hotel and hospitality industry in the United States attributes a 6.31% increase in occupancy to rebranding—and 60% of that to the power of the brand.[1] As researchers explain in their study, “Corporate Rebranding: An Integrative Review of Major Enablers and Barriers to the Rebranding Process”:

“Critical to successful corporate rebranding is the identification and application of six major enablers, including strong rebranding leadership and coordination among multiple functions and stakeholder groups.”[2]

 

To this end, we’ve compiled our list of 15 Do’s and Don’ts for Rebranding Success in order to help you navigate your next strategic rebranding and focus on critical leadership and coordination issues. We’ve been leading clients through all the various aspects of rebranding for more than twenty years so we want to ensure you engage in the process successfully by starting off on the right foot!

 

 

Also to help you achieve success, get our free download “Top 20 Rebranding Mistakes to Avoid.” here

 

We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to rebrand or revitalise your brand successfully yourselves so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you rebrand successfully. So depending on your preferences:

  1. We can build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch brand@personadesign.ie or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here. This is a two-day intensive where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials
  3. Want a DIY solution? Check out our ‘How to Audit Your Brand’ eprogramme here and How to Build a Brand eprogramme here

 

Top Rebranding Do’s and Don’ts

 

How important is your brand? The market research firm Millward Brown attributes more than 30% of the value of companies in the S&P 500 to the brand value.[3] Your brand is just as important, which is why you can’t cut corners during your rebranding.

 

1. DO challenge your reasons for rebranding

It’s not enough to “feel” that it’s time for a change. Whether you’re rebranding a product or the company, question the strategic advantage of your decision. What do you gain? Are there any other options or avenues open to you short of a complete rebrand? In other words, go into this with your wide eyes open and a clear sense of where you’re going and why.

 

When the Langham Hospitality Group decided to refocus its business to better serve a large middle-income population, it rebranded the business to focus on its new mission of service. In this discussion on Bloomberg, CEO Robert Warman clearly articulates their thinking:

 

 

 

2. DON’T focus your rebranding on simply redesigning your logos, changing colours and replacing fonts

There’s nothing wrong with giving your brand a facelift; just don’t confuse a design initiative with the objective of a true rebranding which is driven by a specific strategic intent. When you rebrand, you are communicating a fundamental change in the business.

 

In this video, UPS helps its SME / SMB customers understand the power of branding (and by extension rebranding). This is a strategic endeavor that extends to absolutely every aspect of your business…right down to a greeting and a handshake.

 

 

 

3. DO assess exactly what’s not working or what needs to change (and why) as well as what needs to remain the same by giving your brand a health check before rebranding

Just as you need to challenge your decision to rebrand (#1) you also need to dig deep into all aspects of your business to ensure you change/expand/update those things that need to be rebranded. And at the same time retain what’s still working and still reflects how you are doing business going forward.

 

 

 

If you need direction and support in giving your brand a health check feel free to get in touch brand@personadesign.ie or give us a ring T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours). Alternatively, you can also give your brand a health check yourself to identify its strengths, weakness and areas for potential innovation and growth using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme. This is a step-by-step DIY walkthrough, complete with downloads, questionnaires and checklists, to help you audit your brand yourself. You can watch a section of the programme here.

 

Want to give your brand a health check. Use the Auditing Analysis Accelerator™ programme – get it here

 

 

Consider Malaysia Airlines. After the Flight 370 tragedy, you might think that their decision to rebrand would mean starting completely fresh—even changing the name. But as the new CEO Christoph Mueller tells CNN, there is so much loyalty to the brand that they feel that they need to keep the name.

 

 

 

 

4. DON’T use your competition as the focus of your rebranding

While it is essential that you know what your competition is doing and how you fit in among your key competitors, don’t let the competition drive your decisions. Do what is best for your business, what makes the most sense in terms of your products and services and what attracts your customers.

 

When you let the competition drive your business decisions, you’ll almost always end up playing a game of catch up or “me too.” To stand out, you need to be true to your vision, your culture, your philosophy and how it intersects with the values of your customers.

 

 

5. DO your homework on industry trends and your market before rebranding

While you need to know who your competition is and what they’re doing, your best insight is going to come from having a thorough up-to-date understanding of both industry trends and the wants and needs of the customers you are trying to reach.

 

This is doubly important if part of your rebranding strategy is to try to expand into a new industry or new marketplace. And your research should include talking with prospective customers in this new market. The more you know going into your rebranding effort, the better your position and your potential to succeed.

 

 

6. DON’T rebrand because it’s supposedly ‘cool’

Familiarity can breed boredom. And who’s more familiar with a brand than the people who deal with it every working day. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need something fresh and new just because it’s been around for a while.

 

But here’s the good news: If you understand the strategic importance of your brand and how it stands for who, what and why you’re in business, you’ll be less apt to fall into this trap. Maybe you need to refresh your logo, change your packaging, advertising, update your brand collateral or bring something new to your social media approach. But these are more tactical changes—window dressing—and not a dramatic change in strategic direction.

 

 

7. DO involve all your employees in the rebranding discussion

When a business decision requires rebranding, it needs to be felt and carried out at all levels of the company. Everyone from the CEO to the newest hire has to be on board. But rather than hand down a new brand directive from the top, start your rebranding at the grassroots. Involve everyone in the process. Invite their input. Ensure that where management thinks it needs to take the brand is something that everyone can deliver on. Your employees will be more willing to do their part when they are empowered to participate in the process.

 

 

 

8. DON’T forget to interview your customers and get their perspective before rebranding

Just as you want to talk with prospective customers in any new markets you plan to reach, you don’t want to leave your current customers behind. Remember, it’s easier to retain customers than acquire new ones. So make sure that customers understand your decision to rebrand and feel comfortable that you’ll still be able to meet their wants and needs. And invite them to share their thoughts. They may have a perspective that you need to incorporate into your rebranding strategy.

 

 

9. DO work with experienced brand experts who can help guide you through the rebranding process successfully and ask the right questions along the way

There are so many moving parts to developing and executing a rebranding strategy that it pays to work with experts—people who live and breath the branding process. Not only can a branding consultant make your rebranding process easier, they can also help ensure that you don’t overlook some critical steps.

 

 

 

10. DON’T wait until after you change direction with your rebranding to think about the rollout

While it’s easy to get caught up in the details of the rebranding strategy itself, there are a lot of tactical steps to launching your rebranding—e.g., the event, a strategic location, how to employ social media. These are not afterthoughts. It’s not as simple as one day posting a new logo on your website, announcing an acquisition or creating the content and brand collateral needed to reach a new market.

 

You need your rebranding to launch without a hitch. So be sure to assign part of your marketing team to create the tactical plan that will help you relaunch your brand successfully.

 

 

11. DO manage your customers’ expectations with your rebranding

In addition to getting your existing customers’ perspectives on your brand and where you’re going in the future, you don’t want your rebrand to blindside your loyal customers.

 

If you have field reps, plan for them to speak with customers. Let them give their customers a head’s up as well as reassure them that their needs will be fully met going forward. If you rely on inside sales and don’t have a sales force, you might have a top executive call key customers or send out personal letters. You don’t want to lose the trust of the customers that have helped you build your business.

 

 

12. DON’T try to keep the old brand alive in any form with your rebranding

During your relaunch, you’ll announce that X is now Y. And once you’ve made the announcement, don’t try to make a slow or gradual transition. Dump the old logo, the old name, the old brand collateral…everything that represented who you WERE. Trying to phase out or use up old brochures or letterhead is confusing and actually defeats the purpose of the rebranding. The transformation must happen across all your brand touch-points consistently and congruently at the same time—not months apart! Move on with confidence, strength and clarity.

 

 

13. DO communicate your new strategy and tie it directly to the rebranding so everyone understands what you’re doing and why

Few things are more important than communication. The more people understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how it will impact them and the timeline for everything you’re doing, the easier it is for them to support you and help ensure a smooth rebranding process.

 

After TriNet, an outsourcer of HR services acquired a large company, it quickly went through a rebranding. This brief video is a clip from a longer presentation showing how TriNet keeps its customer-facing employees informed and completely in the loop.

 

 

 

14. DON’T forget to register any new trademarks as part of your rebranding

Whether you’re changing the name of the company or adding new branded products, sub-brands or services, you’ll naturally check to make sure the names are available. Don’t forget to register and protect these names for your exclusive use in every country or market where you plan to do business. Without registering your brand names (and the relevant brand assets like your logo artwork) you may find yourself in a losing battle later to protect the brands you’ve worked hard to develop.

 

 

15. DO discuss the ownership of any copyrights on creative outputs as part of your rebranding

Finally, there’s the matter of creative ownership. When you hire a freelance artist or graphic designer or design agency you want to make sure that you have exclusive use of the intellectual property. While the law differs slightly from country to country, you’ll probably want to establish a “work for hire” arrangement. Talk with your attorney and your brand consultant on how best to proceed. Even if you don’t end up owning the creative outright, you can pay to lock up its exclusive use.

 

Rebranding Case Study #1: Putting Some New Kick in Old Spice

 

Although Old Spice has been creating personal grooming products for more than 70 years, the brand began to stagnate in the 1980s and didn’t improve even after Procter & Gamble bought the company. That changed, however, in 2010 with an extension to the product line and the funky rebranding in the guise of the Old Spice Guy. P&G didn’t simply reposition the product; it sold women on the idea of buying its new line of body washes for their men.

 

 

 

 

Old Spice is an often-told story of a great brand comeback through rebranding. Best of all, they didn’t make the mistake of losing the trust and following of loyal customers. If there’s one weakness in the Old Spice strategy, however, it may be that they’ve failed to stay one step ahead of other brands that have followed in their footsteps with equally off-beat videos.

 

Takeaway: With rebranding, you can bring new audiences to an old, established brand. But once you get the momentum going (or have the good fortune of going viral) you need to keep it going with marketing automation and strong data management techniques that allow you to interact with customers.

 

Rebranding Case Study #2: ABM Does More Than Windows!

 

Image via ABM

 

Just three years after the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco was rebuilt and booming—enough so that Morris Rosenberg started up his window-washing business. In 1913, Rosenberg renamed his one-man operation American Building Maintenance Company and expanded into comprehensive janitorial services. Today the 100,000 employees of ABM Industries provide janitorial and facilities management around the world.

 

 

 

But ABM had a problem. While the company’s capabilities had expanded dramatically, most prospective customers still thought of it as a successful custodial service. ABM needed to build awareness for its expanded capabilities, including security and property systems engineering. It used the 2010 acquisition of the Linc Group to gain that awareness through a strategic rebranding that;

  1. Reorganized and simplified the range of service offerings
  2. Focused on the overall value ABM delivers through its integrated facility solutions
  3. Included a whole new brand identity

 

Takeaway: Rebranding your company can help you get the attention you need when you have a big message to deliver. In the case of ABM Industries, they capped off the whole process—new logo, reorganization of services, a new tagline—by ringing the NYSE closing bell in October 2012. ABM sent a message throughout the industry that this company is still growing and looking to the future.

 

 

Are You Ready for Rebranding?

If you think your company will benefit from a rebranding, ask yourself:

  1. Do we have a good reason for rebranding? If so, you need to be able to articulate it clearly.
  2. What are the strategic implications for our business? Is there any potential downside? Will this move leave any of our stakeholders behind?
  3. Have you presented the task to the entire company—from CEO to newest hire?
  4. Have you looked at your brand through your customers’ eyes and talked with them about your decision?
  5. Have you considered how you will bring your business plan into alignment with your brand going forward?
  6. Do you have a thorough plan for rolling out and implementing your rebranding? Do your employees understand the plan, know how it impacts them and have confidence they can live up to the objectives?

 

We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to rebrand or revitalise your brand successfully yourselves so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you rebrand successfully. So depending on your preferences:

  1. We can build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch brand@personadesign.ie or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here. This is a two-day intensive where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials
  3. Want a DIY solution? Check out our ‘How to Audit Your Brand’ eprogramme here and How to Build a Brand eprogramme here

 

Want to discover more about rebranding to build your standout, №1 powerhouse, premium priced brand working with us so you can increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind?

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s implement the plan together  
  4. Contact us brand@personadesign.ie or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)

 

Your Client Satisfaction Guarantee

  1. When you work with us we’ll create a customised brand building plan and strategy with clear investment for you tailored to your specific requirements and preferences
  2. You’ll know each step of your brand building journey before we start because we’ll discuss it, document it and agree on it with you before work commences
  3. You’ll have timelines, key milestones and deliverables to evaluate and approve for each stage and part of your brand building process
  4. Because we know the unexpected sometimes happens we can make adjustments along the way if you need it and if something extra is requested we’ll ensure you’re fully appraised about what that entails before committing
  5. As we achieve pre-agreed objectives you’ll be able to evaluate your brand building work and strategy in progress, coupled with the outcomes to ensure return on investment

Get in touch today because we’d love to get started helping you build your standout, powerhouse brand so you can increase your profits and leave your competitors way behind. Email us brand@personadesign.ie or ring us +35318322724 (GMT 9:00-17:30) and ask about our VIP Brand Strategy Discovery.

 

Image via Zillon Designs

 

 

[1] http://journals.ama.org/doi/abs/10.1509/jmr.13.0221?code=amma-site

[2] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijmr.12020/abstract

[3] http://www.economist.com/news/business/21614150-brands-are-most-valuable-assets-many-companies-possess-no-one-agrees-how-much-they

 

Brand Flops: 5 Lessons Brand Managers Can Learn From Epic Brand Failures

Successful branding is not easy. That’s why Coca-Cola, Sony, Microsoft, Ford, Colgate-Palmolive, McDonald’s and more — a few of the world’s biggest brands — have been responsible for some giant-sized branding flops.

 

In 1957, the introduction of the Edsel by Ford Motor Company was such a big failure that the name “Edsel” has become synonymous with “huge marketing failure.” In fact, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has singled out this example as one of his favorite case studies in what not to do.[1]

 

In each of the following cases there are numerous reasons for each of these famous brands falling short. In quite few a thorough brand audit would have flagged up some of the risks before they became text book flops.

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Let’s take a look at how Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, Apple, and other famous names have taught us that even the best brands can perform some of the biggest belly flops ever, providing us with a look at pitfalls to avoid and lessons to be learned.

 

 

Lesson #1: Brands Must Understand Customers Needs, Wants and Behaviours

 

Edsel

In 1955, in America’s motor city of Detroit, Ford’s gas-guzzling Edsel automobile was on the drawing boards. Meant to be the full-sized answer to fill every American suburban dream, they named the car posthumously after Henry Ford’s son.

 

However, by the time this full-sized automobile was launched in 1957, consumer preference had shifted toward compact cars — a shift that was cemented by a stock market dive. Positioned as the car of the future, Edsel was overpriced, over-hyped and entirely the wrong car at the wrong time. Production was ceased within two years in the costliest mistake American industry had ever known.

 

 

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1958 Edsel – Henry Ford Museum, Credit: Michael Barera, Wikimedia Commons 2.5

 

 

Coca Cola

In the 1980s, nobody considered the branding of fast-moving consumer goods under the category of apparel, other than as corporate giveaways or inexpensive T-shirts and baseball caps. Yet, Coca-Cola agreed a merchandising deal to create an upmarket fashion line of Coca-Cola Clothing designed by a young, unknown Tommy Hilfiger.

 

First sold at an Upper West Side New York City store called Fizzazz, the in-store marketing revolved around a soda counter shopping experience, an interactive video screens, and hole-in-the-wall credit card machines called Eric that didn’t appeal to consumers.[2] Instead of print catalogues for its mail order distribution, Coca-Cola Clothing distributed free CDs bearing a message that tried hard to connect the soft drink and the clothing. It read: “Pop this cassette open for a sparkling, carbonated fashion video.”

 

coca-cola-rugbys-print-advert

Coca Cola print ad from the 80s (Credit: 237, eBay Store)

 

The concept was ahead of its time, even for trendy Manhattan audiences; only five of the 650 planned stores ever opened. The Hong Kong-made clothing felt cheap to the touch, featured a poorly designed fit, and the whole thing fizzled out fast.

Apple

Apple, too, once had a momentous flop in 1993. In those days, business cards and a Filofax diary were the tools of networking and time management. Apple tried to change all that by introducing a bulky Apple Newton handheld PC device which debuted at the Computerworld convention.

 

Apple_Newton_700px

Apple Newton (Credit: Ralf Pfeifer, Wikimedia Commons 3.0)

 

The world wasn’t ready and the product wasn’t right. Starting at $700, some said it was too expensive, others said too chunky, and everyone agreed it was very poor at reading the handwriting that people made using its stylus. Later versions of personal digital assistants (PDAs) by Apple competitors were enhanced, more broadly accepted by consumers, and sold far better.

 

 

Lesson #2: Brand Purpose Must Stay On Point

Brand extensions can be a tricky business. Colgate, Cosmopolitan magazine and Harley Davidson have clearly demonstrated what not to do. It’s difficult to imagine how some of these rather odd multi-million dollar spin-offs made it out of the boardroom, but they did.

 

Colgate

Colgate is a toothpaste; it promises pearly whites and fresh breath. Yet, in 1982, the toothpaste brand launched Colgate Kitchen Entrées, looking to capture the market in frozen ready-to-eat meals.

 

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Colgate Kitchen Entrees (via Marketing Directo, Madrid)

 

Why? Minty toothpaste and frozen peas? This mind-blowing branding concept was as unappealing as its packaging and promptly headed straight for the consumer graveyard, but not before hurting sales of Colgate toothpaste.

Cosmopolitan

In 1999 there was another weird marketing leap by the leading international women’s fashion magazine. Cosmopolitan introduced a line of yogurt on the already crowded refrigerated supermarket shelves.

 

cosmopolitan-yogurt
Cosmopolitan yogurt (Credit: Marketing Week)

 

Pricing it above the competition and calling it “sophisticated and aspirational,” this misguided off-message product line included Cosmopolitan Light Soft Cheese and Cosmopolitan Fromage Frais. If the brand strategy was, “Cosmo can sell anything,” consumer reaction said that they got that wrong.[3]

Harley Davidson

In 2000, Harley Davidson famously crashed into a wall when it went too far off centre with its drive into branded cologne and aftershave. In hindsight, critics point out that customer audience research and some well developed purchaser personas would have indicated that Harley rider brand values are not focused on smelling divine.

 

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Image via aazperfumes.com.br

 

Obvious? It’s hardly a surprise that these brand values include: freedom, authenticity, masculinity, toughness…and have absolutely zero to do with wanting to smell charming.[4]

 

 

 

Lesson #3: Brands Must Not Get Lost in Translation

American companies in particular have a long and checkered history of making blunders beyond their ethno-centric shores. General Motors, Pepsi, General Mills and Revlon are among the brands to have messed up on the world branding stage.

 

Even in the increasingly global marketplace, regional and national differences in traditions, cultural norms and taboos still matter greatly. Well-known translation examples fill the pages of business school case studies.

 

General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in Mexico, which translates as “It doesn’t go.” Coors Beer messed up the translation of the tagline, “Keep It Loose” into Spanish as “Suffer from Diarrhea.” In Taiwan, “Come Alive With Pepsi” was interpreted as “Pepsi Brings Back Your Ancestors From the Dead.”[5] Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux launched an American ad campaign with, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

Kellogg’s

Occasionally, deeper cultural gulfs are breached at great expense. In 1994, Kellogg’s invested $65 million introducing its Corn Flakes breakfast cereal to the massive consumer market in India. However, a light breakfast is not the way Indians prefer to start their day.

 

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Cornflakes (Credit: fir0002/Flagstaffotos, Wikimedia Commons)

 

Furthermore, hot milk on cornflakes (using cold milk was unthinkable to the Indian consumer) turned the product instantly soggy.[6] Pursuing cold drinks, Nestlé fared no better with the idea of iced tea in India.

Revlon

In Brazil, Revlon launched its top-selling Charlie perfume featuring the floral scent of camellias. Since camellias are that nation’s funeral flower, Revlon’s effort was obviously wasted. Money wasted, reputation damaged, the LA Times reported in 1999 that Revlon unsuccessfully sought a buyer for their struggling Latin American businesses.[7]

Lesson #4: Brands Must Evolve With the Times and Stay Relevant

 

Eastman Kodak

Kodak is a prime example of a legacy brand and market leader which did not keep pace with emerging technology.

 

In this case, it was the move from film to digital that outdid the brand. Founded in Rochester, NY in 1888, Eastman Kodak Company sent cameras to the moon, encouraged loyal consumers to capture personal “Kodak Moments” for decades, and employed an extended family of 70,000.

 

Ironically, filmless photography was invented by Steve Sasson, a Kodak engineer, in the mid-1970’s. “It could have been Kodak’s second act,” reported The Street in its article “Kodak: From Blue Chip to Bankrupt.” Instead, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Lesson #5: Choose Your Brand Ambassadors Carefully

Putting your money where someone else’s mouth is can lead to trouble, as demonstrated by brand after brand, including market leaders like Hertz and Nike. Leveraging a CEO, an employee, or a celebrity ambassador as the face of a the brand is a risky business strategy due to the unpleasant surprises that can — and do — crop up.

Hertz

As the very prominent longtime spokesperson for Hertz Car Rental, National Football League hero O.J. Simpson, known as “The Superstar,” had a locktight association with the brand.

The handsome, popular football running back was featured in a TV commercial dashing through airports to get to the Hertz rental counter. A decade as the face of the brand came to a screeching halt in 1994 when he was accused of the murder of his wife and a friend in an internationally publicized criminal trial.

Nike

In 2009, when pro golfing champion Tiger Woods was embroiled in a high-profile sex scandal, Nike suffered for having had him as their brand spokesperson. In a YouTube video aimed at damage control, Nike has Tiger’s father asking him what he was thinking.

 

The awkward video has had more than 4 million views but raises more questions than it answers. Nike’s bad luck continued with other disgraced sports figures: Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius.

 

According to an article from London’s Cass Business School, personal circumstances are impossible to predict and extremely difficult to mitigate risk. The lesson learned is “to cut the ties between the brand and the brand ambassador as quickly as possible.”[8]

 

In all cases perhaps one of the biggest learnings is you should most definitely conduct a brand audit to evaluate your brand’s weak spots and identify new areas for innovation and growth before rushing headlong into a new venture.

 

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Five Questions to Consider:

  • Do any other epic flops come to mind, and if so, do you think one of these five reasons accounted for the failure?
  • Can you think of other branding examples where a thorough brand audit and proper market research could have avoided a huge mistake at great cost?
  • In addition to Kodak, what other brands lost their way by failing to use brand audits, purchaser personas or keep up with rapidly changing consumer preferences in the 21st century?
  • Which do you think are the world’s top 10 most valuable brands in 2016…and why?

 

 

You may also like:

• Brand Management: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Brand Reputation

• How Brand Purpose = Purchase = Increased Profitability

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

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

• Rebranding Strategy: Using Premium Repositioning To Increase Profitability

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

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

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

 

 

[1] http://www.wsj.com/articles/bill-gatess-favorite-business-book-1405088228

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/1986/11/09/business/pushing-fashion-in-the-fast-lane.html?pagewanted=all

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-daily-meal/6-hilarious-food-and-drin_b_5055465.html

[4] http://www.casestudyinc.com/harley-davidson-brand-extension-failure

[5] http://www.namedevelopment.com/naming-faux-pas.html

[6] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/attempt-analyze-mistakes-corrections-kelloggs-made-india-utkarsh

[7] http://articles.latimes.com/1999/oct/02/business/fi-17749

[8] http://www.cassknowledge.com/research/article/beware-when-brand-ambassadors-go-astray

Brand Equity: How to Measure the Strength and Effectiveness of Your Brand

According to statistics, 88 percent of consumers say quality makes them loyal to a brand, and only 50 percent say price is their primary concern. [1] Also, when people have a negative experience with a brand, 50 percent said they were unlikely to consume content from that brand again. Clearly, this data shows how important it is to ensure your brand is sending the right messages to your customers, and making them want to align with it for the right reasons.

 

 

Branding How Important Is It 600px  

Image via www.business2community.com

 

 

What is a Brand, and Why is Brand Equity So Important?

 

Your brand encompasses your total offering to your customers,[2] from what it stands for, to its personality, the experience it gives your customers, what it promises to deliver consistently, the language, tone of voice and messaging it uses to express itself throughout its communications, the fundamental culture of the organization it represents, its brand collateral and the people who represent it.

 

In short it’s the sum of all its parts from the quality of its offering to its attributes and the emotional meanings associated to it together with all its brand collateral which includes visual identifiers like its logo, website, packaging, printed literature, trade stands, staff uniforms, interior and exteriors site design and signage, vehicle livery, video content and so forth.  All of these elements collectively are what make up your brand when they all consistently and congruently engage your primary audience in a way which is relevant to them, yet are distinctive, different and memorable.

 

Brand equity is then derived from the overall perception of your brand, the way customers perceive your total brand offering, products or services, rather than the just the isolated features and benefits of the offerings themselves. When customers have a favorable brand perception with a consistently good experience, it’s far more likely they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and recommend it to others. In order to achieve strong brand equity, your brand needs to be unforgettable to your customers — it must resonate both with their hearts and their minds.

   

However, strong brand equity has more advantages than just customer loyalty: [3]

 

  • It enables you to form stronger ongoing relationships and negotiating power with vendors
  • Positive brand equity supports long-term company growth e.g. expansion into new markets, product extensions etc.
  • Strong brand equity could partially shield you if you hit a bump in the road e.g. reputational ramifications related to something unusual such as defective product or atypical manufacturing delay — assuming you handle the situation appropriately
  • Fundamentally customers are willing to pay more for a brand they trust and value

 

 

Although brand equity may seem intangible, it has real dollar, euro, or pound value. Brand equity can be tracked and measured using a combination of specialist research and specific algorithms applied on a comparative annual basis.

  

Measuring brand equity accurately is a niche expertise, with a number of companies specializing in this particular field. Interbrand is one of those companies and they annually track the brand equity value of companies and brands from year to year. By way of example, in 2014 the brand equity of credit card company American Express was $19.5 billion. That figure is impressive in itself, but it’s even more striking to note the brand’s equity value had grown 11 percent from the previous year. [4]

 

 

Evaluating Your Brand Equity: Auditing its Current State and Identifying Weaknesses

 

The first step in analyzing your brand equity is to get a reading of customer perceptions. It’s also important to research employee perceptions for comparative alignment. If there are underlying problems with a company’s brand culture there are also likely to be underperformance issues coupled with incongruent communications that customers will pick up on — all of which means they will be less likely to embrace your brand, and may even doubt its authenticity, which in turn causes a lack of trust.

 

A brand audit health check is a very useful and practical way to gauge how your primary audience and staff feel about your brand. It can also enable you to identify weaknesses that might not have been noticed previously. Once you identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in your brand, you’ll be in a much better position to convert them into strengths, or at least minimize the aspects of those weaknesses that make your brand less effective when pitched against your competitors. A brand audit health check also enables you to uncover and identify new opportunities for growth and innovation.

 

 

Make Your Brand Stronger using Keller’s Brand Equity Principles

 

When working with our clients to help them develop stronger brand equity, we also advocate principals from Keller’s Brand Equity Model, also known as the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model. It suggests before you’re able to strengthen brand equity, you must first shape how customers think and feel about the brand. [5]

 

The model is a pyramid shape, with brand identity at the bottom. That section represents the key characteristics and personality of the brand. It’s important customers recognize those attributes correctly, and believe they are different from what competitors offer.  

 

The next level of the pyramid relates to brand meaning. In other words, what does your brand stand for, and how well does it meet customers’ needs, both in terms of performance, and on social and psychological levels? Think about the ways you want customers to experience your brand, and use those factors to create your brand personality and key characteristics.

 

Brand response represents the third tier of the pyramid. Credibility, actual and perceived quality, and comparisons with competing products all help shape brand response. Your goal is to make your brand evoke direct feelings and innate emotions.

 

The top level of the pyramid is brand resonance. When customers actively engage with your brand even when not purchasing it, that demonstrates brand resonance, as does a desire to be associated with a “community” of fellow purchasers. Customers also show brand resonance through behavioral loyalty, such as repeat purchases.

 

 

Measuring Brand Equity with the Six-Stage Brand Development Model

 

The six-stage brand development model is a diagnostic tool that combines proven metrics and a framework to guide brand equity strategies. Below, you’ll find the different characteristics a brand should have [6], plus how to make improvements if necessary.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Recognizable: If your brand lacks recognition in the marketplace it’s crucial to develop your brand strategy and enaction it tactically with a fully intergrated branding plan in order to raise its profile. Brand recognition increases through repeated exposure.

 

  • The Brand Must Be Memorable: The brand should be among the first called to mind when customers decide what to purchase. If that’s not happening, educate your target market about what your brand offers and why it’s unique – while remembering to enage your aduience at both emotional and rational levels.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Viewed Favourably: As we often remind our clients, it’s not enough for people to be aware of a brand. The target audience must also believe the brand is able to meet their needs with trust and respect for what the brand represents.

 

  • A Brand Should Be Distinctive: When customers are ready to buy an item (product or service), they must feel compelled to do so because they think the product offers a unique brand promise unlike what any competitors can provide. Brand perception occurs at both functional and emotional levels, so the goal is to position your brand effectively by stressing attributes that motivate purchases.

  

  • The Brand Must Be Preferred: Ideally, customers will prefer your brand over all others, and be willing to purchase it repeatedly. If preference for your brand is low, you’ll need to evaluate why through a brand audit and then implement changes based on the analysis and findings made. Fundamentally you must build brand trust if you want to engender long term brand loyalty.

 

  • Your Market Must Be Satisfied with the Brand: Ideally, customers will be so happy with what your brand offers they aren’t just personally content, but eager to recommend your brand to friends — become brand champions. If that isn’t currently happening, you may need to evaluate where the discontent lies and work on improving your product or service in terms of both percieved and actual quality.

 

 

Kellers Brand Equity Model 418px 

Image via www.mindtools.com

 

 

Let’s briefly examine three case studies where improving brand equity was the central goal:

 

 

Starbucks Logo Evolution 600px 

Image via www.starbucks.com

 

 

Starbucks

Starbucks has become a global brand worth $10 billion. In 2011, the brand went through a brand identity expansion to boost brand equity. A recognizable green mermaid traditionally decorated bags of the brand’s trademark coffees.

 

 

 

 

 

However, Starbucks wanted to expand its future vision by also using its identity more broadly on other products besides coffee, and associate it with offerings like teas and lemonades. The transition to use the mermaid logo more broadly was lauded by industry experts [7], with some believing strongly the broader use of the logo would trigger new growth and bolster recognition, without compromising acquired brand equity.

  

 

Veritas Vineyard 

Image via www.veritaswines.com

 

 

Veritas Winery

Established in 2002 as a family-run business, Veritas Wineries was one of the first businesses of its kind in Virginia. The company realized its history and provenance helped establish its brand equity and wanted to implement some brand enhancements without compromising its valuable legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

The company commissioned a full brand audit, which resulted in small but meaningful changes [8] to the brand’s identity and made the overall brand more consistent to promote prolonged marketplace success. These alterations have enabled the brand to maintain its dominance, despite increasing competition.

  

 

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola used “Open Happiness,” as a global campaign, to appeal to its consumers’ desire to feel optimistic and be comforted despite a weak economy. At the time, it was the brand’s first new campaign in three years. Advertising spots ran in both print and television media.

 

Although previous campaigns won awards, some analysts felt they required localized tweaking to resonate with culturally different audiences in different parts of the world. [9] The intention was that “Open Happiness” would have mass worldwide appeal. In the end, that goal was achieved, and the campaign achieved widespread industry praise for its ingenuity.

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, brand equity is measured one brilliant customer experience at a time. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a positive brand tone, understand how to relate to your target audience in a way that matters most to them, while simultaneously meeting their needs. Building and maintaining brand equity is an ongoing process, remember successful brand building is as much about all the small things you do consistently well coupled with the bigger campaigns and new initiatives.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Brand equity can make the difference in how customers experience your brand, and whether they want to align themselves with it.

 

  • Brand equity is derived from customer perceptions. Strong brand equity increases the likelihood customers recommend your brand to others.

 

  • A brand audit can indicate how customers perceive your brand, and enable you to identify weaknesses.

 

  • Brand equity is tied to how customers both think and feel.

 

  • Brands should be preferred, distinctive, favorably viewed, recognizable and memorable if strong brand equity is to be achieved.

   

 

Questions to consider:

 

  • What actions or brand strategies could be implemented to increase customer engagement with your brand?

 

  • What would help improve the actual and perceived quality of your brand?

 

  • Have you taken steps to become informed and evaluate your brand’s weaknesses compared to competitors?

 

  • Do you feel your brand adequately conveys why and how it meets your customer needs?

 

  • Does your brand connect with people globally, and is that necessary for its brand equity?

 

 

You might also like:

 

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

   

Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Loyalty: 5 Key Steps to Building Your Loyal Fan Base 

 

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

  

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

 

• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

 

• 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  

 

 

[1] Eric Hammis, http://www.business2community.com, “How Important is Brand Identity?”, April 2015.

[2] Lois Geller, http://www.forbes.com, “Why a Brand Matters”, May 2012

[3] John Fatteross, http://www.thehartford.com, ” Advantages of Strong Brand Equity”

[4] Jennifer Connelly, htttp://www.entrepreneur.com, “‘Brand Equity’ is an Intangible That’s Worth Real Money”

[5] https://www.mindtools.com/, “Keller’s Brand Equity Model: Building a Powerful Brand”

[6] http://rockresearch.com/a-brand-development-model-how-to-define-and-measure-brand-equity/, “A Brand Development Model: How to Define and Measure Brand Equality,” December 2013

[7] Carl Johnson, http://www.adage.com, “Why Starbucks Logo Change Doesn’t Equate to Brand Change,” January 2011

[8] http://www.designbywatermark, “What is a Brand Refresh?”

[9] Betsy McKay and Suzanne Vranica, http://www.wsj.com, “Coca-Cola to Uncap ‘Open Happiness’ Campaign” January 2009

 

 

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 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

  

Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

Launching a new brand is both exciting and challenging. The excitement comes in the promise of something fresh and new that could be wildly successful, be it for your well established, emerging or new startup company — and the challenge comes in getting it right the first time.

 

Evaluating, articulating, developing and documenting your new brand’s position and purpose is crucial to building a strong successful brand. It provides the roadmap and rationale to get you out of the starting blocks and heading in the right direction towards your ultimate success. And similar to your business plan, it’s also a key foundation to any successful business, be it product or service.

 

   Top 10 Branding Tips For Success 600px

   

  

Getting your branding right, from the beginning, is particularly important when you consider it typically costs far more in the long run to rebrand again in the future, if you do it badly the first time, and that’s assuming you even get a second chance.

   

To help you move in the right direction with your branding here are some of the elements we typically include in our branding process every time we’re working with a client to help them build their brand, whether it’s revitalizing an existing brand or launching a totally new brand to market. These are actionable points you should reference and evaluate before you launch your new brand — product or service — to market.

  

  

Top 10 Tips for Branding Success

  

1. Evaluate and Develop Your Brand Message

The strongest, most successful brands have a consistent message that encapsulates what the brand stands for, its promise and the expected customer experience. Your brand message should ‘show and tell’ your customers who you are through your brand story, and what defines your company—what you stand for and why you’re different, as well as what they can expect when they interact with your brand. They should be able to experience ‘what your brand stands for’ in a real tangible sense, as part of the brand experience.

  

Actions speak louder than words, so your brand will only be successful if you give your customers a compelling reason to buy through your brands mission, vision, values, promise and so forth. Your brand values and promise, the reasons ‘why’ you do what you do, must be a fully ‘livable experience’ within everything in your business both internally and externally from a customer perspective.

To use the words of Simon Sinek, ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe.’

 

Developing a strong foundation for your brand is vital to the planning and execution of your successful brand strategy.

Consider these important points:

  • What are the needs or problems of your customers?
  • How does your brand fulfill those needs or solve those problems?
  • What values and qualities are important to your brand and your primary customer?
  • What type of experience do you want associated with your brand?
  • How will your brand enhance your primary customer’s life
  • Does it make their lives easier?
  • How will your brand make your customers feel? What do you want them to feel?

  

Note: People buy with emotion (regardless of gender) and justify with rational so you need to tap into their emotional needs as much as their rational needs if you want your brand to be successful.

 

In evaluating these attributes, amongst others, you need to ensure your brand message is clear, authentic, relevant, and unique. We use the Personality Profile Performer™ system to identify, develop and articulate all the key factors mentioned, amongst others.

 

  

2. Define Your Brand Vision

How do you want your brand to be seen or perceived? Establishing the distinctive character attributes of your brand, together with how it sees the world and how the world perceives it, will help you launch with a strong consistent brand platform that captures the right audience.

 

Successful brands have a life of their own in the sense that they’re humanized entities through the personality and characteristics they portray. To be successful you’ll need to develop a clear mental image of what your brand is all about — it’s vision — together with its’ persona or character attributes before your launch.

  

Whether you’re going for adventurous, reliable, timeless, sophisticated, fun and youthful, or innovative and cutting-edge, create and develop your vision for your brand and incorporate it consistently into all your brand touch points or channels and brand collateral.

  

  

3. Get Your Employees Involved

Successful brands start from the inside out. As a well established business, entrepreneur or new startup, you have the opportunity to ensure your entire team is engaged and on board with your brand, prior to the revitalization and re-launch or new introduction to market.

  

This process is just as important if you are revitalizing an established brand or launching a new brand to market. Your team can provide invaluable insights and the more you involve them in the process the more likely they are to embrace it, take ownership and act as catalysts for change by being early adopters of new cultural behaviours throughout the business. Your brand promise is far more likely to be carried consistently across the customer experience if everyone believes in it and really lives it in everything they do.

  

 

4. Research and Develop an Intimate Knowledge of Your Customers

50% plus of marketing spend is misaligned, going to areas that don’t influence the purchasing decisions of top customers (Source: McKinsey&Company). Find out what really matter to your customers.

 

It’s impossible to target a brand audience if you don’t know who that audience is or what they want. If you want to make your brand compelling you have to know what matters to your customers and the only way to really establish that is to conduct research.

 

This can include aspects of you customer such as demographics—the age group(s), gender(s), socioeconomics, geographic locations, what they have in common, what motivates them and so forth if preferences are not strictly age related and other relevant categorical factors that help define your ideal customer.

 

Do some test marketing or research into identifying your target demographics, and then find out what appeals to them—their needs and desires, and the problems your brand can help them solve.

  

It’s also important to consider developing Buyer Personas or Pen Portraits of your ideal customer to help you shape your branding strategy. The combination of both Buyer Personas and market research or limited test run service or production run (if you’re selling a physical product) can provide you with invaluable insights. These can then help you develop and plan your branding strategy specifically tailored to meet your customers real needs, particularly when you incorporate these customer motivations into your brand collateral and various branding platforms and brand experience.

  

  

5. Evaluate, Benchmark and Rate Your Competition

A brand audit or market research prior to re-launching or launching a new brand is critical not just for your target audience, but also for your competitors. You need to know what type of competition you’re facing in your intended market, and find out what they do well and where they may be lacking. Their weaknesses are your opportunities, potentially providing you with gaps in the market that you can leverage to your advantage.

 

Once you’ve identified your competitors’ weak points or areas of poor customer satisfaction, you may be able to build a brand niche on fulfilling those unmet needs for your customers. The ability to differentiate from the competition, be that perceived or actual, is key to a thriving and successful brand. By carrying out a comprehensive competitive analysis and brand audit of your market sector, you can build differentiation into your brand from the start.

  

  

 

 

  

6. Review Your Brand Concept for Usefulness

Some new companies make the mistake of launching a brand based on hype, touting their products as “new and different” or relying on surface factors (such as beautiful packaging or a stunning logo) in order to capitalize on the brand. However, if the actual products or services are not high quality and really enhancing the lives of their customers in a way that tangibly matters to them, the brand will fail.

 

The best brands fulfill a customer need or desire, or solve problems that other brands don’t. There are many forms this fulfillment can take, whether it’s true innovation, a new twist on an existing line, or even perceived value that is higher than the competition—but the core quality must be there for any of these strategies to succeed. This is where audience targeting can be crucial, as it can take some time to identify the right demographics for your brand to serve.

 

 

7. Design a Distinctive Brand Identity

Truthfully, obtaining perfection is an impossible goal—but your brand logo should be as close to perfect as you can get when you launch a new brand. Your brand logo design is the central identifier or visual component of any brand, and a great logo can be a powerful tool for success. Think of iconic brand logos that are instantly recognizable: the Nike swoosh, McDonald’s golden arches, the Olympic rings, the Mercedes-Benz three-point star or Virgin. All of these logos help convey the values and qualities of the brands they stand for, and foster brand visibility and loyalty.

  

   Virgin Logo 600px

Image via www.virgin.com 

  

 

Take the time to create a brand logo that is unique, clean and strong, and succinctly expresses your brand, and what it stands for, at a glance. When used consistently, a compelling and recognizable brand logo will support the drive for brand success.

  

  

8. Let Your Passions Shine

Whether you’re a long established business launching a new brand, a seasoned entrepreneur or an uninitiated start-up you are uniquely positioned to infuse your new brand with the passion that led to the launch of your business.

 

All of the enthusiasm and excitement that went into creating your company should be poured into your brand development and messaging with the same passion. This will enable you to build an authentic brand that connects with your customers and evokes emotion—which in turn fosters loyalty, repeat purchase and referral for brand success.

 

 

9. Develop and Commit to Your Brand Promise—and Never Break it

Every successful brand comes with a promise to its customers. For example, Johnson & Johnson baby products makes a promise to parents that the brand will care for their baby’s sensitive skin like no other. Domino’s Pizza promises that its customers will have their orders delivered in 30 minutes or less—and reinforces that promise with a money-back guarantee.

 

What will your brand promise your customers? It is essential to not only define your brand promise, but to keep it every time, with every customer interaction. Brands that break their promises quickly fall out of favour and struggle to stay afloat in the market.

  

  

  

  

10. Maintain Your Brand Consistency

Finally, successful brands are unfailingly consistent—across every customer channel, every brand touch point, and every piece of brand collateral. Brand consistency means infusing every aspect of your brand, from packaging to marketing to in-store, customer facing staff or online experiences, with the values and promise your brand stands for.

 

It’s about far more than maintaining your corporate colours in your marketing material (although that aspect is also absolutely essential too and the reason Brand Style Guides are created). Being consistent should extend throughout your brand presentation, communication, and customer service. Creating a single impression for your brand from the beginning enables you to quickly increase visibility and recognition, and develop a loyal customer base who will spread your brand message for you.

 

Strong, engaging, and consistent branding is the critical foundation that supports all of your marketing activities, and drives the success for your company. Use a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ to get a great started with a well-defined brand that meets the needs of your target audience and outshines your competition, and you’ll enjoy a long and successful branding experience.

  

You may also like:

 

Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand

  

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

  

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

  

 

So, what do you think?

 

• What excites you about launching a new brand? What are the challenges you believe you’ll face for your new brand?

  

• How well do you understand the requirements of your new brand messaging?

 

• Who is your ideal customer? What are the specific demographics of your target audience?

  

• How will your new brand differentiate from the competition?

  

• Does your brand offer the right quality and value to your customers for its positioning? How can you tie that offering to your target audience?

  

• Have you expressed your brands’ passions through your brand strategy? How will you capitalize on this?

  

• What is your brand promise, and how will you maintain it consistently across all of your brand touch points?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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

Building and maintaining a thriving brand takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. A strong brand is the single most effective marketing component your business can have. When your brand is performing well, your business enjoys increased visibility, greater customer loyalty, and a healthier bottom line.

 

So how do you grow a great brand, and keep it on top? One of the most powerful tools for maintaining or improving brand performance is a brand audit – a comprehensive evaluation of your brand’s positioning and market performance that should be done on a regular basis. Here’s what you should know about brand audits in order to drive successful growth for your brand.

  

Top 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know about Brand Audits 

  

1. What a Brand Audit is (and isn’t)

A brand audit is a comprehensive analysis of the current state of your brand. Effectively, it is a brand health check, helping you identify any problem areas with your brand strategy, collateral, positioning, and market value – with an eye towards turning things around and increasing the effectiveness of your brand.

 

A brand audit is not a quick review of your numbers. Effective brand audits are comprehensive investigations of all the aspects that make up and effect your brand.

  Brand Audit Magnifyer

 

2. Reasons to do a Brand Audit

There are many reasons to do a brand audit, but some of the most common are business performance issues that can be tied into the strength of your brand. If your business is sliding down, you are losing customers to competitors, or your revenue is sinking, a brand audit can enable you to revitalise flagging performance and recapture your market – or take your brand to new, profitable heights.

  

3. What a Brand Audit can do

The benefits of a brand audit are numerous and substantial. Just a few of them include:

  • Highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of your brand

 

  • Showing where your brand currently stands in the market compared to competitors

 

  • Painting an accurate picture of your brand’s market perceptions

 

  • Enabling you to align your brand with customers’ expectations

 

  • Identifying new trends and market opportunities to expand your brand

  

 

4. Conduct Brand Audits Even for Healthy Brands

If your brand is performing well, you may feel that there’s no need for a brand audit. But the fact is, even healthy brands need to be monitored for performance. When your brand is already winning, a brand audit can show you why it’s winning – enabling you to focus your brand strategies and efforts on the most effective areas for high brand performance.

   Brand Audit Team

 

5. Brand Audits Increase Your Profits

Strong brands simply make more money. When you have a robust and consistent brand, you’re able to engage and inspire your audience, building brand loyalty that translates into more returning customers, more word-of-mouth visibility, and less money spent on attracting new customers. You can also implement premium pricing strategies with a stronger brand that’s able to command higher prices.

 

A powerful brand is an investment that pays for itself, and a comprehensive brand audit can unlock your brand’s potential.

 

6. Brand Audits as Competitive Strategy

A highly competitive brand is a successful brand – and every brand has competition. Done correctly, a brand audit will show you how your brand stacks up against your most direct competitors, and reveal tactics and brand strategies you can use to gain a higher market share. For brands that require an aggressive competition strategy, brand audits will help you pinpoint the exact areas your brand is underperforming compared to your competition, and make improvements that lead to greater market success.

   Brand Audit Girl

  

7. A Brand Audit Reviews Every Piece of Brand Collateral

If you’re looking for an effective brand audit that will truly help you grow your brand, you need to review and analyse every touch point and piece of brand collateral for your brand, from your logo and brand colors, to product brand packaging and merchandising, to website and online presence, to your organisation’s business cards, letterhead, and email signatures. Both internal and external brand collateral must be included in a brand audit.

 

8. Internal Brand Perceptions are Important

A successful brand audit will analyze your brand from your employees’ point of view. Engaging employees and earning employee buy-in for your brand audit is crucial to success – after all, your employees must participate in the changes you implement according to the brand audit results, or you’ll be unable to effect real change or maintain brand consistency and your efforts to revitalise the brand will fail.

This means brand aspects such as your employee orientation and training programs, sales force training, human resources material, and employee engagement strategies must be included in your brand audit.

    Brand Audit Man

  

9. Your Customers Should be Part of Your Brand Audit

One of the greatest benefits of a brand audit is the ability to gain an accurate picture of customer perceptions of your brand – and there is no better way to do this than going to the customers themselves. Customer participation and feedback should be an integral component of your brand audit.

 

There are many ways to solicit customer feedback during a brand audit. Online polls and surveys are common methods that can bring results faster, and help you gain a wider reach for your customer data pool. It can also be very effective to gather customer feedback at your point of sale, whether that is online or in a retail location, or over the phone or in a meeting. This is another reason why it’s valuable to involve employees in the brand audit process – they will have direct access to customers and can solicit the feedback you need to move forward effectively.

 

10. The Real Value of a Brand Audit

Many brand owners make the mistake of believing the value of a brand audit lies in the data that is collected. But in order to make brand audits work for you, it’s important to realize that the most essential value lies in the actions you take as a result of the insights gleaned through the process. The brand audit is a diagnostic tool, offering a detailed look at the current position of your brand – but the real work begins when the brand audit ends.

 

For this reason, it’s vital to make your brand audit rigorous, engaging, and objective. A brand audit can reveal hard truths about your market standing that you may not be prepared to accept.

We have found when conducting brand audits, using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™system, that when clients take on board all of these factors their brand audit provides very insightful and invaluable information which has a significant impact on their brand strategy and the growth of their business and its profitability going forward. 

 

 

The Benefits of Working with a Specialist Brand Consultancy

The need for objectivity in brand audits makes a strong case for your organisation to work with an outside party when implementing a comprehensive brand audit. An experienced brand consultancy can help you create an impartial picture of your brand, enabling you to visualize the strengths and weaknesses clearly and take corrective action that will be truly effective in strengthening your brand. This type of collaboration provides you with both objectivity and the ability to integrate insights with your brand strategy going forward, without preconceptions that can skew the results of the audit.

  

So, what do you think?

• Has your business hit a plateau or encountered a decline, which a brand audit could help turn around?

 

• If your brand is healthy and performing well, do you know exactly why? Could a brand audit help you focus on your strengths?

 

• Does your brand need to be more competitive in your industry?

 

• Have you been considering a premium pricing strategy? How would you use a brand audit to help you implement higher pricing tiers?

 

• Have you performed a brand audit before? How comprehensive were your results?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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

A strong brand is the key to success and sustainable growth for your business. However, brands are not static, unchanging identities – the most successful brands live and breathe, evolving along with changing shifts in market tastes, trends and demands.

  

Rebranding or brand revitalisation, when properly planned and implemented, can be a powerfully effective strategy for rescuing or reinventing a failing brand, jump-starting a stagnant brand, expanding your markets, or initiating substantial business growth. A rebrand may be subtle or evolutionary in nature, or it may involve radically transforming a product, service, or entire brand.

  

Regardless of the extent of your rebrand, a thorough brand revitalisation strategy is a must in order to be successful. Here are the top tips on surviving a rebrand of any scale, and emerging as a stronger and more profitable organisation.

 

Understand Rebranding: It’s Much More Than Just Changing Your Logo

Even for those brands undergoing a subtle rebrand as an evolutionary step forward, there is much more to a successful rebrand than changing your company or product logo. Rebranding always results in shifted audience perceptions of your brand, no matter how large or small the changes – and this strategy should not be engaged lightly.

   

  

   

   

Approaching a rebrand without strategic planning, market insights and customer engagement can be disastrous to your brand, often resulting in storms of negative social media, if your brand is very high profile with an engaged audience.

   

     

Airbnb Belo Logo 2014

  

  

Airbnb, an online accommodations rental platform whose logo changed in July this year brought a flood of social chatter comparing the new logo to parts of the human anatomy. BBC News reported on the backlash, including a roundup of Twitter comments where it became the top trending item for a time. Others on the other hand praised the US home-rental services new look. Airbnb calls its new logo Belo, and says it represents “the universal symbol of belonging”. 

    

   

Airbnb Logo Change Twitter

   

   

Also earlier this year, the long-established candy brand Hershey’s caused a similar internet controversy when the company changed their logo from the traditional silver foil-wrapped Hershey’s kiss to a solid brown graphic with a gray curlicue to represent the iconic brand.  

   

Hershey Logo Change 

   

Hershey Rebrand Tweet 2

Image via www.mashable.com

    

Customers and commentators alike were also divided in their opinions with some having a field day online pointing out the shortcomings, as they saw them, with some very unfavourable comments compared to those who thought it fresh, demonstrative and sleek.

   

Hershey Rebrand Tweet 1

Image via www.mashable.com  

     

Regardless of what your views are in relation to both these brands, simply launching a new logo is not the right way to approach a rebrand. You need a solid brand strategy based on a brand audit coupled with research, market testing, and an honest analysis of your current brand performance before making any changes that will impact your brand.

   

  

  

   

Make Sure Rebranding is Really the Answer

Prior to a rebrand, the most important consideration is knowing why you’re rebranding, what your goals are in making changes, and whether a rebrand is the right solution.

 

Some of the most common situations where it makes sense to undergo a rebrand include:

  • Relevance: In order to thrive, brands must stay relevant to their target market and keep up with evolving customer needs and desires

  

  • Competition: If a brand encounters aggressive competition that damages sales, rebranding can help to push back and restore a competitive edge

  

  • Innovation: In industries where rapid change is common and expected, such as technology, rebranding can help you preserve relevance to new markets and remain competitive  

 

  • Globalisation: Market demographics can vary from region to region. A brand that is looking to expand into new global markets can benefit from rebranding to suit a wider audience

  

  • Repositioning: Rebranding is required for a brand seeking to change its market position, such as moving from an economy level to a premium brand with higher pricing

  

  • Mergers and Acquisitions: If two brands merge, or one brand acquires another, rebranding is essential to establish the new, single identity of the separate brands 

On the other hand, there are some situations where rebranding or revitalisation is not the correct strategy. These can include:

  • Young Brands: Unless the existing brand solution is highly flawed, brands that have been on the market for a short time, such as 3 years or less, should not rebrand. Young brands would be better served to adjust marketing strategies or roll out new campaigns

 

  • Change for Change’s Sake: Rebranding should not be engaged simply because you feel like changing. There should be a compelling commercial reason to rebrand, since changing “just because” results in failure more often than not

 

 

Rebranding the Right Way: 4 Top Tips for Pulling it off Successfully

Once you’ve established that a rebrand or revitalisation is what your brand needs, how do you effectively plan a rebrand? Here’s how to build an effective rebranding strategy and make it through with a stronger and more compelling brand.

 

1. Assess Your Current Brand Perception Honestly

If you’re undergoing a rebrand, there’s a reason your brand is struggling. You need to know exactly what that reason is, and how your rebranding strategy will address it. This means there is no room for light observations or wishful thinking – you need to know the brutally honest reality of where your brand currently stands.

    

The best way to accomplish this honest assessment is through a comprehensive brand audit. A brand audit involves thorough examination of your market position, your brand’s performance relevant to the competition, its strengths and weaknesses, and a full view of both internal and external perceptions of your brand. Through this process, you may uncover surprising information about your target audience – and you may even discover new audience demographics that will be suitable for your brand with effective rebranding.

 

 

2. Obtain Organisational Buy-in

A successful rebranding relies not only on effectively changing customer perceptions, but also ensuring that everyone in your company participates in the rebrand programme. Each of your customer touch points must reflect the new brand collateral and brand values – which means your entire company, from sales personnel to general staff to CEO, top down, must understand the goals of the rebrand.

 

  

3. Ensure Seamless Consistency

Maintaining consistency is a primary key to an effective brand. When undergoing a rebrand, make sure that every piece of your brand collateral reflects the changes and the new brand vision – from product packaging and logo design to website, sales material, office and retail locations, staff uniforms, trade stands, presentation tools, in short all your brand collateral, and even email signatures.

   

4. Communicate the Rebrand Externally

Naturally, your new brand will be rolled out to customers but it’s important to get their feedback with some test research initially before you fully implement and launch to market. But don’t forget to involve stakeholders, shareholders, and media outlets with news of your rebranding. Awareness of a rebrand is crucial to its success.

  

Whether your rebrand is evolutionary or comprehensive, whether your reasons are to maintain relevance, beat out the competition, or reposition your brand to increase profits, surviving the rebranding process involves careful planning and strategisation and a willingness to ensure both internal and external consistency.

  

Your brand is much more than just your logo. Brands represent the total customer experience, and rebranding must be approached with care and forethought. But when implemented properly, a rebrand can deliver a wider audience, a strengthened brand platform, and higher profits for your business.

 

So, what do you think?

• Has your company undergone a rebrand in the past?

 

• What are the reasons you are considering rebranding now?

 

• Could your brand benefit from a brand audit, regardless of whether you’re rebranding?

 

• What would you change about your brand, and how do you think it would impact your target audience?

 

• How can you rebrand to improve your brand’s relevance?

 

• Could you raise prices and increase profits through brand repositioning?

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Entrepreneurial Branding: 5 Top Tips For Brand Success

Entrepreneurs typically face an array of challenges with a failure rate which is dauntingly high. Estimates range from 75 to 90 percent of startups failing within the first few years – those numbers are enough to give even the most stoically resilient and determined entrepreneur pause for thought.

 

The good news is that a strong brand strategy can vastly improve your chances for entrepreneurial success. If over 80% of the Fortune 500 Company CEOs, rate ‘their brand’ as their company’s number one asset, then maybe you should be giving the planning and thought around your brand a lot more consideration than merely tokenism. When building a brand, it’s vital for entrepreneurs to realize that brands are not solely visual. The most common misperception is that many think their brand is just their logo and not much else! A logo is not a brand. This one of the most prevalent mistakes business owners, and designers alike make – much to their detriment.

  

A brand is what your product or service ‘stands for in peoples minds, what it means to them’ and ‘branding is the process of executing and managing things that make people feel the way they do about your brand’. What your brand stands for, its values, promise, customer experience and those associated feelings your brand provokes through its story, and so forth, are what determine the creative design brief for what you logo, and all your other visual materials, actually look like. Your logo is merely the visual idnetifier for your brand, assuming it is well designed enough to appropriately convey your brand meaning in a very distilled visual representation. In short you need to build your brand profile first, before you start designing your logo.

 

If you define what your brand is all about from day one, through your brand profile, it will provide you with absolute clarity on the direction of your brand strategy in parrallel with your business strategy and overall business plan. It will provide you with the right direction for all the different choices you will need to make such as suppliers, communications, online interactions and marketing activities etc.

  

The question here is what’s different, really different about what you’re offering? Slightly different is not good enough. If you want to stand out, you’ve got to be brave and think bigger – dare to be different with your brand in a way that is really relevant to your primary customer. This is what gives your brand substance and potential sustainability – not a logo. You can have the most beautifully designed logo but that still won’t make it into a brand.  

 

    Jeff Bezos Amazon

 Image via www.financialpost.com and Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg

  

One entrepreneur that has defined a brand very succinctly is Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, when he said: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Successful branding is about winning and keeping customers, about influencing choice, and ultimately about finding and dominating your place in the market.

 

 

Checkout these top five branding tips to help you achieve a stronger start and give your budding business a better chance of success.

 

5 Foundational Branding Tips to Support Your Brands Success

 

1. Start Early, Brand Consistently and Congruently

For any entrepreneur or startup, it’s never too early to begin building the foundations of your brand. In fact, you should have your brand well developed and thought through so you can put it to work for your business long before you interact with your first customer. This can be summed up in Simon Sinek’s quote ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it, and what you do simply ‘proves what you believe’.

 

  

Understanding is the first step to building a successful brand. You must know, as a company, exactly who you are, what you stand for, why you do what you do, and what you have to offer your prospective customers that they can’t experience or get anywhere else. Your brand must emotionally and intellectually have the power to engage, motivate and inspire both your prospective customers and your people internally.

 

Dedicate committed time and effort to determining your brand vision. Challenge your thinking, don’t settle for second rate ‘me tooism’ or hybrids of what’s already out there. The greatest sin is to be bland, obvious and ordinary. You must be different, distinctive and memorable for the right reasons if you want success. Be rigorous and thoroughly challenge yourself. Be able to answer questions such as:

  • What is your company’s mission? What will you deliver to your customers—not just in terms of products or services, but emotionally and as an overall customer experience?
  • What benefits and features of your company’s products and services are unique to your business?
  • How will your brand enhance your customers lives and/or solve their problems?
  • What qualities do you want your consumers to equate with your company?
  • What should your business be synonymous with in one year, five years, ten years?
  • Will it still be relevant and powerful in one year, five years, ten years or twenty years plus?
  • Would you fight to protect what your brand stands for? Do you believe in it so strongly that you simply won’t compromise on it? Is it fundamental to your core belief system?

 

Once you have fully fleshed out your business brand vision and values, you can begin distilling your core message into a powerful and captivating brand communications strategy that puts your brand to work effectively.

 

However this can only be done authoritatively when you have a very clear picture of who your ideal core target audience is. Do you know what their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations are? How and where do they live, what age and gender are they?

 

You need to build your customer persona or avatar because its only when you have absolute clarity on what this is, that you can create a brand that will truly resonate with your core target audience. You need to create a brand that meets their emotional needs because when people buy, be that a product or service or into your ideas, they buy with emotion – not rational. Think about it, you can’t build something of substance and compelling meaning if you don’t know or understand who you core customer is and what matters most to them.

 

  

  

2. Create the Right Visuals

While a brand isn’t just about visuals, your brand collateral or visual materials are far more important than most entrepreneurs often realise. Think about all the brands you know that are instantly recognizable: the BP flower, the Nike swoosh, the red Coca-Cola can, McDonald’s golden arches, and Apple’s…apple.

 

 Apple Logo

Image via www.apple.com 

 

For any entrepreneur or startup, a well-designed logo can become a powerful hook for your brand. It’s your brands identifier and like a tattoo, not something you easily or readily change once you start establishing it – so it needs to given some serious thought and investment from day one. In short it needs to be invested in properly as does all the rest of your brand collateral be that your website, brochures, PowerPoint or Keynote Presentations, packaging, direct mail, advertising, social media presence and videos etc. Your brand collateral is the tangible evidence of your brand and it must be designed to congruently reflect and tell your brand story, its values and personality properly. Every single touch point or piece relating to your brand must be consistent and properly designed. They are the tactile materials of your brand, an extension of your reputation and part of your branding strategy.

 

3. Dare to be Different

Every business has competition, and as an entrepreneur, your startup must stand out from not only the established companies in your industry, but also the thousands of other startups launched every year. This means that having absolute clarity on what your brand stands for, what your ‘big why is’, and how you’re going  to communicate your message and that distinction to your customers, is crucial to your brands’ potential success.

 

Distilling your brand values, what it stands for, its personality, the do’s and don’ts of how it will behave and the experience it will create for your customers through all the various ‘touch points’ of its interaction with them is critical to its potential success.

  

It can be challenging to properly and fully develop your ‘brands’ profile’, but once done becomes vital to the fundamental success of your business and part of your ongoing business strategy and plan. It’s integral to your business model.

  

As an example, many entrepreneurs around the world have built their success through a brand profile that has been strongly rooted in the provenance of their unique geographic location. The hospitality and restaurant industry is particularly crowded, but with enough differentiation from other restaurants in the same locality and an authentically lived and experienced brand story, you can attract a loyal customer following.

 

The world you create around your brand must be authentic with an almost theatrical piece of escapism, from a customer experience perspective. From the moment they stand outside your door, metaphorically speaking, to consider a purchase from you, your brand must offer them something they can’t get or experience anywhere else. It must richly express its own personality in a way that’s truly relevant and compelling to your target audience.

 

L'etoile Restaurant Usa 

 Image via www.letoile-restaurant.com

 

One restaurant owner in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, not only created success with her brand proposition, but also used it to elevate her status from entrepreneur to icon. Odessa Piper’s vision led her to launch a fine-dining establishment, L’Etoile, in the middle of a large farming community, which became successful due in large part to her brand vision and commitment to serving only the highest quality, locally sourced food. While sustainable dining may be nothing new today, it’s important to note that Piper opened L’Etoile in 1976, making her a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement and earning her the title of “First Lady of Cuisine” in Wisconsin.

 

4. Brand Promises: Make Them and Never Break Them

Every successful brand comes with an unshakeable promise—in fact, your brand promise is a core part of your brand. You don’t have a meaningful brand without a brand promise. Having a brand means that your customers can and should expect certain rewards whenever they interact with your company. Whether that promise is incredibly great quality ingredients “using only the really good stuff”, exceptional customer service that “goes beyond just the good to an exceptional and unforgettable experience” or “social distinction in a class of its own”, the key to sustaining your entrepreneurial business is to deliver on your brand promise – every time congruently and consistently without question. Your brand promise must be non-negotiable in its delivery and fulfillment all the time.

 

 Ruby Hammer Recommends Lip Gloss

 Image via www.rubyhammer.com and www.debenhams.com

  

International makeup artist and successful entrepreneur Ruby Hammer understands and capitalizes on her brand promise. Hammer co-created and launched the now-discontinued Ruby & Millie makeup brand in partnership with Boots—but she’s also responsible for the launch of other successful brands in the UK, including Aveda, L’Occitane and Tweezerman. She was awarded an MBE in 2007 by the Queen, and she’s recently launched a new line called Ruby Hammer Recommends.

 

In an interview with the Female Entrepreneur Association, Hammer states that promising and delivering quality is vital to the success of a brand. “The key to developing a successful brand is first, you’ve got to have something worthy of success,” she says. “You can’t do it with a bad product.”

 

Successful brands not only give customers the expectation of a unique perspective and a valued experience, they deliver on that promise to provide something undeniably and irresistibly desirable.

 

 

5. Branding: A Solid Foundation for Startups

The majority of new businesses may fail, but yours doesn’t have to be one of those sorry statistics. Strategic branding with a clear message that communicates the unique experience and attributes of your offering can help you win and sustain your business from day one. Commit to building a strong brand foundation to attract and underpin a loyal customer base. This will in turn inspire your brand advocates who in turn will help you spread your brand name and reach much further, and most importantly, help you build an ongoing profitable empire.

 

What do you think?

 

 • Does your business have a strong brand profile? If not, how can you create one?

 

• Do you understand what your target audience wants, and exactly how you can meet their desires?

 

• Does your logo really stand out in its uniqueness and distinction, capturing the essence of your brands’ mission, vision, and qualities of your business at a glance? If not, how can you improve it?

 

• How can you measure the effectiveness of your startup’s brand?

 

• What channels are you using to spread your brand, both visually and conversationally?

 

Drop us a line and share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!