Symptoms of fatigue and sluggishness warn us when our bodies are out of balance. But are you savvy to key business signs that show your brand could be suffering a similar malaise? Brands, like bodies, deteriorate with unhealthy choices and too little nourishment. How can you tell when your brand needs detoxing?
To get to grips with this, you need to understand the basic physiology of a brand. Brands reside in consumers’ minds. Your brand is built out of all the beliefs and associations that consumers hold about your products and your business. This bundle of perceptions is built up over time, and it will determine how likely consumers are to buy your brand.
Brand perception is fed, for good or ill, by all your marketing communications including: packaging, advertising, website, social media, direct interaction with staff, press coverage, emails, promotions, and printed materials such as brochures etc. Brands living in consumers’ minds will be nourished by clear, relevant and motivating communication or toxified by conflicting or ill-judged messages.
Here are 5 key signs that your brand is ready for a detox.
How easily can you paint a clear mental picture of your typical consumer? To develop an engaging brand, you need to have a good understanding of the people who use your product. You need to understand both the big stuff (what their needs are, what’s important to them) and the little stuff (such as what makes them laugh, what magazines they read). Strong brands are relevant to their audiences; they speak the right language and deliver meaningful benefits. Without consumer insight you are blindfolded. Understanding your consumers better will make your marketing activity fitter, leaner, and more effective.
2. Your consumers aren’t engaged
Be very wary of a one-way relationship with your customer base. If you receive little feedback to social media, have below-par email open and click-through rates, struggle to generate interest in promotions, or rarely receive any spontaneous feedback, these could all be important warning signs and a lead indicator of sales trouble ahead. Potential causes of consumer apathy include: overloading them with irrelevant messages, failing to reach the right people at the right time, or simply poor execution; marketing activity that fails to cut through the noise.
In contrast, an active core of brand loyalists is a good sign of a healthy brand. Engaged consumers with strong emotional ties to your brand, will act as advocates, recommending your products to others. Rejuvenate your marketing plan with a focus on engaging and mobilising your consumer base.
3. You haven’t nailed your brand’s most important benefit
Perhaps your brand has an impressively long list of features and benefits. It is not easy however, to embed many different benefits into busy consumer’s minds with a scattergun approach. For much better results, take aim with your brand’s most powerful, top-level benefit. For example a mobile phone will have 100’s of features and benefits that might include: a faster loading camera, battery that won’t let you down, hands-free use with voice control etc. But focusing the marketing on a single benefit that emerges from all of these – such as ‘living in the moment’ – will be far more successful.
4. Your staff can’t articulate what your brand stands for.
This is a great litmus test for brand health. Your staff are exposed to all your brand marketing. If staff can’t give a coherent answer to ‘what is your brand about?’, consumers will definitely struggle! One of the main pillars of good brand management is clarity. If your brand has become confused through poor communications, then it is time to get back to basics and detox your marketing approach.
5. Your branding is not consistent.
Lay out all your visual representations of your brand i.e. packaging, brochures, website, flyer, brochures, website, everything. Is the branding consistent and harmonious, or viewed altogether does it give you a headache? Over time, it can be easy to get cast adrift with minor logo variations creeping in, colourways and fonts wandering off in various directions. What about the tone of voice? Are all the materials written in the same style or is a bit of split personality showing through? If you want consumers to really believe in your brand, you need to present a reliable face. Detox your branding by capturing some simple brand style rules and then sticking to them fanatically.
In business, as in life, we all need to take stock and invest a little time and effort in regaining good health every so often. Use these 5 warning signs to recognise when a brand detox would be beneficial. Remember that brand perceptions live in consumers’ minds; a diet of good marketing communications will sustain your brand to keep it pure, fit and healthy!