Pivotal moments in business (when brand can move you forward)
Here are five use cases (of many). And, just a few pointers (of many) to success...
1. Scaling up — going to the next level.
At a key moment in your growth, it pays to optimise your brand’s messaging and focus. Leave behind traces of your start-up (or mid-growth) legacy. Maximise impact on your visibility and salience with customers, your magnetism to investors, and even your ability to hire the best.
Ready to scale?
Review the core of your brand. What’s your ambition. How well defined is your proposition? And, is it clearly communicated? Is it connecting you with potential customers, investors and employees?
Pathways to your future brand:
- Capture where your proposition intersects customer needs. Create a unique positioning in the minds of your audience(s) and craft key messages to your market—to grow and build momentum. After all, how will they know what you can bring them, if you don’t tell them?
- Audit the visual and verbal assets you already have. What, if anything, is recognised by customers? What can you amplify and clarify? How can you simplify? This is about being distinctive – being recognised and being remembered by your customers.
- Engage stakeholders, employees and customers to gain a 360˚ understanding of your brand’s meaning and purpose. Then optimise your brand to maximise its potential. People are hungry for meaning, we all want to connect with others and with a sense of purpose and fulfilment. When authentic and credible, this can offer a strategic brand advantage.
2. Tech transition from legacy to new technologies.
You may have a strong brand, recognised in a sector, but this strength may be a mixed blessing. In the minds of your audience, if your brand is not perceived as tech-capable you have some strategising to do deliver a buy-able proposition to market.
The recent history of business is one of (sometimes huge) legacy brands losing share to disruptors. Many of these had no track record or perceived credibility in that marketplace. The incumbents didn't see them coming. So whether it’s tech perception, or taking your existing products to IoT or cloud, brand and telling your story is critical.
When you understand your deficit in the minds of your audience, a number of strategies will help address this:
- Deploy new brand messages, or tagline.
- Ingredient brand strategy? Consider the addition of a branded technological ‘ingredient’ to supplement the stability and recognition of your known brand.
- Reposition the legacy brand to signal change or signal change through fresh naming or design visualisation.
3. New market, new product, or new service launch.
Doing your homework and taking a strong brand position is the (legal) way to create an unfair competitive advantage, or rebalance the scales in the face of stronger competition.
As you’d expect, when approaching a new market or launching a product everything depends on context. Explore the specifics of your market, what’s unique about your offer, and the competition you face. Consider if there’s an opportunity to disrupt the norms in the category.
- Devise a positioning based on particular customer needs, your product’s unique value proposition, and where these meet.
- Adapt an existing brand to a new marketplace, creating specialised messaging, or a new sub-brand variant.
- Create a brand positioning and identity based on a unique brand purpose or attitude, as opposed to functional benefits.
4. Merging, consolidating, acquisition. (And managing a portfolio of product brands).
All too often, merged brands can become ‘less than the sum of the parts’. It’s critical to maximise the potential of your assets. And then, tell a compelling story — focused on what matters to customers.
When considering a merger, analysis of the existing assets and their place in the market is the place to begin. It’s understandably difficult to detach from your own brand, but remember, look outward — it’s what’s clear in the mind of your marketplace, and customer, that really matters.
Some potential strategies you should consider:
- Compare scenarios: e.g. A co-branded approach for the group that makes the merger visible, while maintaining product brands, versus a unification under one strong name.
- Where multiple product brands exist, adapt a clear and easily managed portfolio strategy.
- Consider synergies in naming and visual identity across product brands and any sub brands or services.
5. Signalling change: of strategic direction, ownership, succession planning—or to simply force reappraisal by your audience.
A new ‘lick of paint’ is unlikely to convince your audience of anything, if not backed up by tangible evidence. Or at least a credible narrative. However, a compelling brand story and message, with a visual or name change can be highly effective in reintroducing or repositioning your business.
A well-conceived brand strategy and core messages can be highly effective in helping you create and signal meaningful change, internally and with investors and customers.
Three things to consider:
- Before any change, weigh up equity you have built in your brand: Visual assets, logos, etc. Verbal assets: names and slogans, etc. Is it possible you could lose in the short term before making gains?
- Do your homework. Research customers, employees, stakeholders and the competitive set.
- Devise a clear and relatable brand transformation story and ensure that all stakeholders are fully briefed and involved. Can they easily explain the change?
Pathway to your strategy
Each business and challenge is unique but all can be solved with rigour, curiosity and creativity. There’s no formula. But a process helps.
Seek expert advice. Do it once, do it right.
Guidance offered in this article is general, and while it is designed to inform, context is everything in a successful brand strategy.
When you need guidance at a pivotal moment, or to simply take stock of where you are in the journey get in touch with Garrett to access over 30 years of high-level experience with national and international brands (And, three of the top four global brand consultancies).