Millions of people start the new year with a list of resolutions designed to create healthier, fitter versions of themselves. Consumers purchase gym memberships and pay diet program fees in order to reinvent, or rebrand, a better version of themselves for the new year. The new year is a great time for businesses to take a closer look at their own brand. The best way to begin the process is to revisit what branding means, why it's valuable, and how rebranding is sometimes a great idea.
Branding is the total package and foundation of your business's marketing strategy. It's the mission, vision, and messages you communicate with audiences. It includes the logo and visual elements that make your business recognizable. Consistency is the key to branding success and to generating not only consumer loyalty but employee engagement.
Great branding creates an emotional connection with internal and external audiences. Employees are often the ones in direct contact with consumers yet a 2012 Gallup survey revealed that 41% of employees don't know what their company stands for. The same survey revealed that not only did employees not know the company's mission or vision, they also were unable to explain what sets the company apart from the competition. Educating employees about your brand is about more than teaching them their job skills. Find creative ways to engage your employees so that they, in turn, become great brand ambassadors. You can't afford not to.
Marketing guru Seth Godin offers an excellent definition of a brand's value on his blog:
"A brand's value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives." -Seth Godin
Notice how Seth says " of how much extra people will pay," not that they want the cheapest price. Consumer seek out brands that have something they can't get anywhere else, like a certain dish at a local restaurant and they are willing to pay more to get it. A brand's value is truly tied to it's "brand stamp," the thing that it does well that is uncommon and scarce to find elsewhere.
While it's true that some brands have stood the test of time, (take Nike, for example), this just isn't the case for smaller or even medium-size businesses. Branding that never changes becomes stagnant, stale, and overlooked.
When considering rebranding, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your brand still relevant?
- Is the logo outdated?
- Have there been changes in industry or leadership that affected the mission?
- Do you no longer stand out from the competition?
- Is there a new product to launch?
- Have the needs of your customers changed?
Case Study: Diet Coke
Diet Coke is entering 2018 with a new look and new flavors. The popular diet soda is facing stiff competition from flavored, fizzy drinks. The new flavors, Ginger Lime, Twisted Mango, Zesty Blood Orange, and Feisty Cherry, are an attempt to modernize the brand and to target a new generation of consumers, according to the company.
The Diet Coke rebrand includes a new, slimmer 12 oz can design, with vertical colored stripes. While Coca-Cola as a drink dates back to 1886, Diet Coke is only 35 years old. The new flavors are the result of two years worth of planning and the tasting of over 40 potential flavors.
Coca-Cola experienced a PR disaster in 1985 with the introduction of the New Coke. While the soft drink giant has bounced back, thanks to the swift return of its original flavor, Coca-Cola still recognizes when consumer trends are changing. The company already has a foot in the fruited, sparkling water game with their Dasani product line. In fact, the same cans used for the Dasani sparkling water will be used for the new Diet Coke products.
Coca-Cola, as a company is huge but the important takeaway here is why they did what they did with their Diet Coke. It's a line that bears repeating and sums up one of the key goals of rebranding: to modernize the brand and to target a new generation of consumers.
Lost in a Forest of Trees
There's an old expression that states, "sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees." This expression refers to someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole. You know your business inside and out; better than anyone else. When it comes to branding, or rebranding, it's imperative to involve someone who brings a fresh perspective. Through the use of discovery sessions (how do your customers view your brand?), to the development of sample sketches, the process of rebranding is exciting and even invigorating for your team. Instead of being lost in a forrest full of trees, a fresh perspective allows you to look at your brand from all sides.
Whether your business is a start-up or an established business with growing pains, revisiting your branding strategy is important to survival. The competitive and every-changing business world demands that brands not become stagnant. Consumer purchasing habits evolve as their needs change. Add to the mix a new generation of buyers entering the marketplace and your brand becomes even more important.
If your brand is working for you, now may not be the time to change it. It may be the time, however, to begin researching trends and planning ahead for future changes. Remember Diet Coke? The planning process began two years in advance.
There's always room for improvement in business. Finding the balance between staying with what works and taking a risk with something new isn't easy. By understanding the incredible value branding has for your business, product, and services, you can create strategies that adjust to changing trends and changing consumer habits. Best approach? Connect with marketing professionals outside of your business. They bring a fresh perspective, industry knowledge, and can guide you through the branding/rebranding process.
To learn more about how to improve your marketing strategies, give us a call at 661-702-1310!