Today’s post was written by Stephen Foy, Strategist at Movéo.
At the end of the day, brands live within the minds of consumers at large — but marketers play a role in shaping that consumer perception. If your organization’s branding is consistent and compelling enough, the marketing team can shape and reinforce what an audience thinks of you. As the desired image and messages begin to take hold, brands grow in strength and impact. And focusing resources on brand strength proves to be worth it — year after year, the strongest brands outperform the market by double-digit margins.
To strengthen your brand, you must thoroughly understand your target audiences, closest competitors, and market in general. Although research can lead to this knowledge, it doesn’t always provide fantastic news. Sometimes it can be brutal, because above all else, research is honest. If it means taking a hard look at your brand, including the messaging and image, then so much the better. At least you’ll know, and be able to take action toward creating a revitalized brand — one that is audience-focused and built around exactly what your product or service can credibly deliver.
If you find yourself in the position of confronting a weakened brand, it may seem overwhelming, but a considered approach to revitalizing your story will set you on the right path. Here’s what to do:
1. Make sure you have a deep understanding of — and confidence in — the insights that have been gathered in the discovery process. That includes:
2. Take stock of what about your brand still works in light of the new insights, retaining what fits the potential new story and eliminating the rest. For example, does your messaging strategy still include the right key pillars? If one or two still work, keep them; if none work, start from scratch.
3. Review your brand architecture to make sure it’s aligned with any new strategies. Confusing architecture only serves to get in the way of a compelling brand story. You also want to make sure you’re getting credit for what you sell — that people recognize the product or service they like comes from you.
4. Consider a change to your brand identity, including your logo. Ask yourself: has your logo become outdated, so that it no longer conveys who you are in the marketplace? If core elements of your brand still resonate with priority audiences, a new logo may cause confusion; but if research indicates there should be major shifts in strategy, a logo can serve as the clearest sign of something new. Changing the look of your brand should never be taken lightly, but at the same time nothing conveys change to the market more quickly.
5. Focus internally, then externally. As reimagined brand elements are created it is imperative that internal audiences understand and get on board before rolling anything out externally.
This is where having internal research will help significantly. Your people are a big part of your brand, and it will be well worth it to spend time communicating with them. The more the brand is changed, the more you’ll want to be sure internal audiences are brought along.
Sometimes research can be the bearer of bad news — but every weakness is an opportunity. It’s far better to know where your brand can improve than not know, and rebuilding a brand to better suit your target audiences is entirely achievable with the right knowledge base.
For more insights on how to strengthen your brand, read our white paper, 10 simple truths about strong brands.