A PR disaster
A new CEO or merger
A technology upheaval
All are substantial reasons corporations take a hard look at their brand platforms. But if you are a smaller business or independent consultant, there's a chance you'll benefit from a good look at what your brand outerwear, those messages that differentiate you from the pack, says about your business. All businesses evolve over time and there’s no brand police to warn you when your current messaging is about to expire.
What are subtle signs your brand messages are expiring?
You built your business on attracting a particular type of customer. Instead, you attracted another. Learn what attributes attracted your most promising customers and use them to develop a new suite of messages, maybe even a new brand name if necessary.
Perhaps you’ve built a reputation as the premium (or low cost) provider in your category and it’s worked extremely well. But now the market has shifted and that positioning is no longer making sense. Don’t stick to it because it worked so well in the past. The past is over.
Sometimes, your customers tell you what they really value about you or your business but it’s not what you expected to hear. If the feedback is consistent but not conveyed in your original messaging, it may be time to freshen up that outerwear.
Poke around to learn what problems you’ve really solved for your customers. Not just the obvious ones; the ones you set out to solve. Understand the accidental ones, the burdens you’ve lifted from your customers’ shoulders, the ones they feel most excited about because they had no idea their situations could be so much improved.
Consider the case of Right Click Advantage
Right Click Advantage began as Learn at Home Computing, an educational business conceived to raise the computer proficiency of older adults in the comfort of their living rooms. The service couldn’t have been more accessible and supportive. But that market segment didn’t yield enough motivated customers. Budding entrepreneurs looking for business-level computing skills, on the other hand, appreciated the computer educator’s high touch and became customers. A rebranding as Right Click Advantage with a new set of value propositions enabled the business to present itself compellingly to this broad market.
As Right Click Advantage evolved, it listened deeply and read between the lines of customer feedback. It learned that customers really valued hand-holding. One might be tempted to call it business coaching, but the customer experienced it as nudging, nurturing, hugging, inspiring, and reassuring. So Right Click Advantage found the closest match – mothering – and branded its latest support service “Your Marketing Mom.”
Is it trending positively?
If you’re not hearing any alarms, your brand outerwear may have made the best dressed list. But if you want to be sure, send a third party to touch base with your customers. Someone else may be able to assess your standing more objectively than you.
Many businesses consider its brand platform untouchable especially if there’s a strong legacy of quality, service, or similarly positive reputation. Unless you have the brand equity of Coca Cola, don’t dig in your heels. Social media, recommendations, and new players in your space can change your competitiveness quickly. Build reminders into your annual business plans to check the relevancy of your brand strategy.