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4 steps to avoid brand decay

Molly Rice
4 steps to avoid brand decay Molly Rice

You change your car's oil every 3,000 miles, see your doctor every year, and visit the dentist every six months. But when was the last time you brought your brand in for a tune-up?

Taking your brand off the shelf, dusting it off, and giving it a buff and polish every five years is ideal. And 10 years is the bare minimum. Whether it's front-and-center or simmering in the background, your business has experienced change over the last decade. Sometimes it's a massive shift, like surviving a merger or acquisition or entering a new market, and sometimes it's more subtle -- achieving incremental growth or reacting to ongoing turmoil in your industry. Regardless, if you haven't taken a hard look at your brand since George W. Bush was sworn into office, it's time.

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Updating your brand doesn't have to be a daunting process. These four tips make it easy to give your brand a tune-up that'll keep it running smoothly:

Be very clear on what the assignment is -- and who you're reaching

If you think a brand update consists of simply refreshing a logo, think twice. Logos aren't brands -- they're part of the identity and represent what the brand stands for. That is why it's important to revisit and update the brand strategy first, including who you are, what you want to be, who you want to do business with, and why they should do business with you. Ask (and answer) the key questions: What's changed in your business? Do you have new people or new products? Are you serving new markets? Are customers asking for different things than they used to? Does the outside world realize you've changed? Only then is it time to identify the path you need to take.

We began working with one company, LiquiCell, almost a decade ago to build their identity, determine positioning, and pinpoint markets to explore. Our initial focus was on helping the company market its liquid-filled pads to comfort-focused customers, like shoe manufacturers, that could benefit from LiquiCell's ability to reduce body aches, pain, and fatigue. Several years later, LiquiCell has seen significant interest from the med-tech space, and we're back working with the company to refocus its positioning. It's in a different place now, with a focus on medical comfort technology, requiring an updated brand geared to this new audience and need.

Make your updated brand story stand out

When tuning up your brand, be sure to take a close look at your story. Make sure the story is memorable, proprietary, and compelling -- and that it clearly differentiates and positions you in the marketplace. The brand story should speak to your customers and potential customers about why they should do business with you and not with the company down the street.

Technology-consulting firm Midwave had a hard time telling their story in a way that differentiated them from their competition. And yet they were spending a considerable amount of time and resources on marketing. We encouraged them to put the brakes on their ad buy while they took a hard look at their messaging, and they did.

What we discovered when we did a deeper dive was that while everyone in the tech space was talking about the cloud, Midwave had a different perspective than most. The company feels strongly that the cloud should only be part of the story, that core services shouldn't live on the cloud, and that most companies would benefit from a product or service-agnostic consultation that looks at the whole picture. We nailed that down and highlighted it, making it the centerpiece of all of the company's messaging. Their new positioning -- "Cloud and clear" -- highlights Midwave's leadership as a trusted consultant, and is reflected in everything from their logo and website to sales tools and office space.

Midwave's brand revision was triggered by changes in the technology landscape, and they succeeded because they found a way to reflect their values and points of differentiation as a part of that.

After your position is set, review and revise your marketing tools

A fresh perspective will ensure your updated brand story is being told in a way that supports your sales and service processes. For example, when reviewing your digital assets, determine exactly where and why they're used in the sales process. Then, revise your website, online videos, social media outreach, etc. to truly deliver the right information to support a specific customer need and conversation.

When we began working with Riverbridge Partners nearly a decade ago, it started with an investment focus. The Minnesota-based company has since significantly expanded its services to include both financial planning and investment management expertise. With that expansion, they needed tools to help them tell their new story, so we took a fresh look at their website and other marketing materials to reflect the updated approach. We helped them clearly define who they were and aligned every piece of their business, from people and processes to technology and marketing tools, to support their new story.

Involve your leadership team in the development process

This is a critical step to make sure that everyone understands why you're doing this and how it will help the customer, the company, and each individual player. Then train and involve the rest of your internal team to ensure they're aligned, engaged, and ready to tell the new brand story.

If you've hit the five year threshold, it's time to visit the brand garage for a tune-up. Start by focusing on these four steps to help make sure your brand is fresh, focused, and poised to drive results for the next five -- or even 10 -- years.

Molly Rice is the co-founder and CEO of Spyglass Creative.

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"3d illustration isolated" image via Shutterstock.


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