In an earlier post, we learned that your brand is the experience your company provides to customers throughout their buying relationship with you. When you think about it in those terms, it’s hard to over‑emphasize the importance of your brand.
The impact your business has on your target market reflects the strength of your brand. It’s not only how your company wants to be perceived in the marketplace, but how it actually is perceived by customers. When there’s a misalignment between these perceptions, your brand is broken.
The consequences can be disastrous for your company in terms of lost sales, stalled growth and reputational damage.
Why does it happen?
Your brand gets broken when your market and your brand evolve at different rates. This is what creates a misalignment in perceptions.
For example, your company may consider itself a market leader in expert knowledge and professionalism. You know you’re a good fit for your target customers, but your brand is sending altogether different signals. In fact, your customers perceive you as inaccessible and confusing.
If you’re suffering from this kind of misalignment, I want you to remember a broken brand is not a permanent state. Companies evolve. Customers evolve. Cultures evolve. It happens.
How do you know if your brand is broken?
Here are three common signs of a broken (or breaking) brand.
1. Your brand has become reactive
You respond to product launches, competitor moves and other market opportunities ad hoc and reactively. As a brand, you often go off on tangents to ‘explore’ new opportunities that take you away from what you originally started out to achieve.
2. Your brand has become outdated
Your brand is stale and perceived as boring. There used to be a lot of great customer buzz about your business, but now you no longer resonate the way you used to.
3. Your reputation has been damaged
Your brand is being viewed in a negative light by your customers. You’ve made some changes to address this, but you seem to continue to lose new customers as well as previously loyal ones.
So how do you fix it?
If you think your company’s brand is broken, here are some steps you can take to get back on track.
1. Establish a solid foundation
You must invest time with your leadership team to develop or redefine your core brand statements (brand vision, value proposition and positioning statement) and identify the market segments you are targeting. In order to align brand with market perceptions, you need to develop a detailed understanding of both sides of the equation.
Often with broken brands, it’s slight variances in how these fundamental elements are understood within the company that create the initial cracks. Invest time with your leadership team to clearly redefine what your brand represents and what it’s growing into.
2. Facilitate your brand culture
It’s one thing to have your brand documented on paper, it’s another to bring it to life. Demonstrating your brand value to the market is also known as your brand personality—with emphasis on the personality. That all starts with people.
Your people are the ones working for your company, demonstrating your brand on a daily basis. A customer service rep who is genuinely excited to help and enthusiastic about her work creates a different brand perception than one who is bored and uninterested.
Your people are also your customers—the ones who buy from you, the ones who are just discovering you and even the ones who choose to no longer do business with you.
People create culture. Build your brand based on the culture that exists or encourage your culture to evolve with your brand (or, better yet, do both!). Think of WestJet. Whether you’re a staff member or a customer, the brand is a culture of WestJetters and your interaction with the company makes you part of that crew.
3. Create a consistent customer experience
Brand personality covers all manner of customer experience, from the language and tone of your messaging to customer service response times to sales conversion efforts and everything in between.
Every interaction with your company is a demonstration of brand behaviour and part of creating your customer experience. Again, your goal is to align customer perceptions of your brand with the way your organization wants to be perceived. To achieve this, you have to speak with one voice throughout the customer experience. So, from our previous example—the ideal brand is one where you’re aligning your customers’ need to have an accessible, simplified understanding of what you do with your company’s need to demonstrate your expertise and leadership in your field.
Again, a brand that’s broken is not locked in that destiny. Rebuilding your brand is a matter of realignment. Get started by setting a strong foundation that will allow your brand to grow and evolve with your market.
Do you have an example of a broken brand that’s been able to put the pieces back together? Do you have questions on how you can start to fill in the cracks of your own brand’s foundation? Please share below in the comments—we’re always eager to talk shop!