7 Signs Your Brand Is Losing Focus
by Henry Dada – A strategic brand consultant specializing in Brand Development, Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education
To solve this: Think of your products as solutions rather than things. Your brand is not defined by what you offer. It’s valued by what it answers.
3. Your market share and/or your margins are slipping. It’s easy to be frantic and not profitable because, sadly, there’s no correlation between amount of activity and degree of success. If your brand is sales-obsessed, it’s easy to praise and celebrate the wrong KPIs and to see setbacks in core performance factors as little more than setbacks. In point of fact, your brand is eroding. A fish may rot from the head down, but a brand dies from the bottom line up.
To solve this: Start and end with margin. How much you make is far more important than how much you sell.
4. You’ve got lots of different messages in the market. You’ve got a lot to say for yourselves as a brand, but little or none of it is coordinated or consistent. Instead your communications are a series of campaigns that focus on specific products or particular offers without reinforcing and reiterating what the brand stands for. This suggests a lack of strategy, and a tendency to rely on tactics to get you from point to point.
To solve this: Look for ways to integrate your marketing so that it feels and looks like you in every instance. Heineken’s masterstroke was to stop thinking in campaigns and to make everything they do an expression of their global strategy.
5. You’re always holding promotions or sales. This is the worst combination of 3. and 4. Your brand suffers from short-termism and a tendency to see success in cashflow only. Nothing wrong with cash, of course, but giving away so much all the time means you stand for little more than a bargain opportunity to consumers. This is a Venus fly-trap. The lure of cash influxes may look tempting but it will quickly trap your brand in ways that you may never be able to reposition your way out of.
To solve this: Change your value equation. Focus on ways to change why and how people are interested in your brand. If you can’t do that under your current brand, either rebrand or look to introduce a new “premium” brand into the market.
6. Your investors are holding you hostage. The need to provide your investors with returns is hampering the ability to invest in the brand and/or resource other key elements of the company. Brand is a long term game. It requires patience and consistency; characteristics that those who’ve invested capital often struggle with as they look for the best returns on their dollar. Because marketers have generally failed to position brands convincingly as assets, many investors only see brands and marketing as dead money.
To solve this: Report clearly on why you see your brands are assets, how they help build overall value, the investment that takes and when and how investors can expect to see returns.
7. You’ve over-committed to one course of action. While it’s important for every brand to have a clear understanding of what makes it special, a brand will quickly suffer if it becomes obsessed on one aspect of what it does at the expense of everything else. Starbucks, for example, got into trouble when it stopped concentrating on coffee and focused instead on growing its presence. Equally, brands that concentrate on winning customers at the expense of keeping the customers they have can quickly find themselves engaged in costly (and futile) acquisition wars. Focus, ironically, is all about balance.
To solve this: Analyze where you make your money against where you put your effort. Devise a series of actions based on Repair, Consolidate, Maximize and Sell/Stop to ensure everything you do is based on a rich awareness not just of actions but also of impacts.
A key challenge for every brand today is balancing currency with legacy: doing enough to remind customers why the brand is what it is and why they can depend on it, and at the same time introducing new ideas that keep the brand interesting and give it vitality. As Allen Adamson has recently pointed out, “The best brands today know that getting ahead and staying ahead requires being open and agile enough do two seemingly opposing things simultaneously. The first, to fluidly and quickly shift gears to meet the demands of the market. To anticipate, grasp and then intuitively react to the situation. The second, to do so without losing focus on the brand’s core equities, the things that drive what it stands for. That magical two percent that sets the brand apart from the competition…If an organization doesn’t have what it takes to shift on the fly, it fails. If it shifts but doesn’t maintain focus on its brand’s true colors, safeguarding the brand’s authenticity, it fails.”
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