How Do You Know When it’s Time to Review Your Brand?

Brand strategy is key to ensuring that your brand is aligned with company objectives. But in an increasingly fast-changing marketplace, you can’t just brand it and forget it.

We tend to think of a corporate brand – with its carefully constructed promises, character attributes and voice – as the solid, immovable thing around which all other tools in our brand universe revolve, such as our marketing strategy, customer service approach, and even product development.

But a brand is also a living thing. Closely tied to your reputation, capabilities and opportunity, it too will change – whether you like it or not. The question is, will it be changed by design or by default. When you let the marketplace, or worse, competitors dictate what your brand represents, it can be very difficult to recover from.

It’s a good idea to take a critical look at your brand periodically to make sure it continues to be relevant, well-aligned with corporate strategy and well-positioned against competitors. Of course you don’t want to change brand positioning every time the wind changes, but significant developments both within and outside the company should inspire another look.

Here are 6 critical questions you should be asking yourself.

Is your company poised for growth?

Whether change will come from new technologies, shifting demographics or emerging economies, the marketplace you operate in 50 years from now probably won’t be what it is today. So what is your next big opportunity, and will your offering still be relevant and leading? Repositioning your brand before a big change can put you in a better position to take the market lead when that opportunity comes to bear. Don’t underestimate the importance of market research and advance strategic planning that includes key members of your team.

Have competitors moved into your brand territory?

Imitation may be flattering, but it can quickly dilute your brand, erode your market position and even commoditize your offering. If your brand is no longer clearly differentiated or singularly valued by your stakeholders, it’s time to recalibrate your brand positioning. Competitors may follow you again, but leadership speaks volumes.

Are competitors changing the market?

Monitor the market for developments that could affect your brand and business strategy. Who in your industry or product category is innovating? What impact will that have on how competitive you are? Who is winning market share, and why? What are the underlying economics of your industry and is it changing? Be sure to keep an eye on replacement competitors – those companies that provide an alternative to what you offer. It may not be obvious that they’re taking share away from you. If the players are changing significantly, it may be time for a new game plan. Michael Porter’s competitive framework still applies when you consider the forces that shape competitive strategy – the true essence of brand differentiation.

Is there a disconnect between what you project and how you’re perceived?

That’s never a good thing when it comes to managing your brand, but it’s not always a bad thing when it comes to identifying your opportunity. Your product may have been discovered by a new industry or demographic, or is being used in a way you never anticipated in your brand strategy. Your brand may stand for quality goods at a fair price, while your customers would describe you as a youthful trend-setter. Both are positive, but you need to position where your opportunity is. If you haven’t touched base with your customers in a while, do your research.

Is your brand headed in the same direction the company is?

Corporate strategy can change quickly, especially with a new leader at the helm. If your brand positioning is no longer supporting strategic goals, it’s not serving its purpose. The challenge is in identifying the right opportunity to re-evaluate. Any change in brand positioning should be in response to a significant, sustainable, company-wide shift or evolution in strategy.

Have you translated your brand strategy into an action plan?

To put brand theory into practice, everyone needs to know what to do next. Be sure that each major “from–to” shift is matched with the energy to make it happen. This often takes the form of a well-thought-out marketing plan with measureable objectives, well-researched strategies and a range of actionable and measurable tactics.

We invite you make use of additional information resources on our website and Brand Blog where we lead branding best practices and marketing trends. Feel free to follow us on Twitter and join our Linked In group to continue the Brand Matters discussion.

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In the digital economy, every customer interaction can represent a branding and business growth opportunity. Learn more through Brand Matters’ Brand Blog based on our branding experts’ interface with Canadian marketing leaders.

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