By: Gordon Conner
Your brand is the house where your company lives. People get an idea of the people who live there by what they see from the street. If that house isn’t being kept up and the place looks outdated, we tend to think the inside must be sloppy and the people who live there must not care what others think.
Just like your home, your brand needs tender loving care. Those companies who built a good solid brand a few years ago, and have been letting that brand slide in recent years, are now realizing that their customers are dwindling and their image isn’t as solid as it once was. The small companies who were ignored by these brands are suddenly appearing to be more innovative and relevant in comparison. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to walk in and ask some tough questions. What is no longer resonating with customers and prospects? Is the old Value Proposition cutting it in comparison to the competition? Is the website making a good first impression? In other words, what is the brand’s curb appeal like now?
Is it time to take action? There are several options. It all depends on whether the needs are fixable, or is it time to start over?
Mission and values
A great example of a company that has done an excellent job of driving home the company’s mission and values is USAA. Each employee knows exactly what the mission is and has a real purpose for going to work every day. Your values need to be clearly articulated to employees, customers and stakeholders. The mission should let everyone know what your goals are. Test your company. Randomly ask your employees what your company’s mission is. If your mission is important to your employees and customers, don’t mess with it. But if your employees can’t answer affirmatively, they have jobs, but no purpose. This means the mission doesn’t have any value for them, or it isn’t being promoted properly. In this case, you need to take a fresh approach.
Messaging and positioning
How are you different from your competition? What makes you valuable in a special way? Most CEO’s think they have the answer. But CEO’s aren’t your customers. Sometimes they are simply too close to the forest to see the trees and their outlook is completely outdated. Or maybe the CEO does know, but the messages haven’t kept up with the times, nor have they been adapted for all of the critical touchpoints. Not sure? Start with some research to find out what customers and prospects really think. Now, compare this to what you want them to think. This, along with a solid brand audit, will tell you if you need a new approach to the market.
Creative story telling
You may find that your mission, vision and values are solid. But after an audit, you may conclude that your messaging just isn’t cutting it for you. Your core messaging make simply be out of date, or you may not be getting your story across well enough to get attention and make your company remembered. Your story needs to take a life of its own. To do this you need to be bold and creative. Boring the market will never work. Your message should be making you just a bit nervous. If not, you aren’t taking it far enough to break through the clutter to convey a distinctive message.
As a leader, you need to pay attention to your brand and it’s responsibilities every day. Many CEO’s don’t think of their brand as a priority because they aren’t putting out brand fires every day. In the meantime, the brand is going downhill. The result can be a permanent damage to the foundation of your business. Maintenance is mandatory. Keep it fresh. Continuously monitor what your customers and prospects are thinking. If you can manage their impression of your business you can dramatically affect your bottom line. What are you doing to stay on top of your company’s brand? We’d love to hear your thoughts.