It’s a common occurrence – a new business is developed around a great product or service and there’s a rush of excitement and energy to get it to market and start generating income. As a result, the time and budget spent devising the original brand strategy, logo and identity was probably minimal.
Fast forward a few years, a decade even, and the business has gone from strength to strength, trading off the energy of a new business and the great product or service that got it going in the first place.
However, without taking a proactive approach to branding, sooner rather than later certain signs will start to appear that indicate there is a growing disconnect between the brand identity that was originally created at the outset and the company you have now become.
Here are six signs to look out for that suggests it might be time for brand refresh:
Sales have slowed up
Brands that people recognise, trust, and recommend tend to sell well. If your brand has become tired, irrelevant, or discredited it is likely you are finding it harder to pick up new customers and to keep the ones you already have.
Very often, when faced with financial difficulties, business owners or marketers look to invest in tactical communications. If we can get the word out to more people through an ad campaign or a new website, sales will pick up, runs the argument. Yet if you are merely pushing out an ineffective brand these campaigns are unlikely to succeed. Far better to work on a new brand identity and then tell the world about it.
Lack of stand-out
A brand should not simply alert people to your existence; it should also motivate and inspire them to buy from you. If your customers have ever described your company as a ‘best-kept secret’, it indicates that your brand identity is not sufficiently communicating the value you offer your customers.
Look at your brand identity. How distinctive is it from those of your competitors? How well does it communicate what makes you different or special? It may be that you need to work on your visual identity or it may require a more in-depth review of your brand strategy. Either way, you need a brand that stands out from the competition and communicates your strengths.
Top talent is going elsewhere
It is not only customers that will go elsewhere if your brand is not reaching them or appealing to them. You will also see job applications dwindle, the best applicants going to the competition, and eventually your top talent leaving for more exciting opportunities elsewhere.
There are many reasons for high staff turnover and recruitment challenges, but if this is a problem you are facing you might want to consider whether your brand is effectively communicating your purpose and what makes your workplace unique and attractive to those who share the same values. How could you refresh your brand to become a place people are inspired by, feel proud of, and want to work in?
Time has moved on
Trends and styles change, and you need to make sure your brand identity keeps up with them. Look at how Apple’s logo has evolved over the years. In the same way all of its marketing communications, its in-store presence, and its total brand has remained always fresh and relevant.
It can be easy for the months and years to tick by and a once successful brand to remain unchanged, and almost without anyone noticing, to imperceptibly become out of date and less relevant to today’s consumers.
Incredible though it seems, it is only ten years since Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone. The world has evolved in so many ways in the years since then. Has your brand evolved too, or does it look more relevant to 2007 than to 2017?
You’re always apologising for it
Sometimes it is because a company’s product or services have changed. Other times it is because the firm is trying to reach a fresh audience. Or it also happens when the company has put in work to better understand and articulate its purpose, mission or values. In each case, the company has changed, and if the brand has not kept pace it will present problems.
You and your colleagues will probably experience this disconnect as the tendency to apologise for your brand. More worryingly, your customers will experience it as the sort of cognitive dissonance that breeds mistrust and confusion and encourages them to spend with your competitors.
It’s inconsistent with other channels
The rise and rise of tech and digital media has seen a proliferation in the number of channels we can now use to reach customers. This brings many benefits but it has also created significant inconsistency across media for many brands.
On one level, this is visual: while guidelines may be in place for how your visual identity should look in ad campaigns, they may not be for how it should look on your Twitter account. It is though deeper than the purely visual. Does the social media executive who creates your brilliantly engaging and shareable video content convey the same professional gravitas as the partners at your professional services firm?
That is just one example of possible inconsistency across channels. There are many that take place every day, and inconsistency breeds the lack of recognition, trust, personality and engagement that is essential to brand success.
Evolution not revolution
A brand refresh does not always mean creating a completely new logo. Sometimes it can be simply evolving the existing elements so that you remain familiar to your customers, and maintain the brand equity you’ve already built up, whilst at the same time tackling the issues outlined above.
However, it can’t be done by simply tweaking your logo or adjusting your website. It’s about identifying what you stand for and communicating a reason for customers to choose you over a competitor.
Your refreshed brand will be consistent across channels, it will reflect who you are and what you do, it will look contemporary, and it will engage and inspire both talent and customers. It will, in short, be one of the best investments you make.
If you recognise any of these signs then it must be time to consider a brand refresh. Drop us a line here at Incorporate and we’d be happy to explain how we’d work with you to define your brand strategy and design a strong and resilient brand.