Successful companies spend time each year developing and updating their five-year strategic plan, outlining key goals and setting their success metrics. What we have found, however, is very few consider their overall brand strategy in this process. As companies reach major milestones and objectives, corporate leaders should also consider how these successes impact their brand, both internally and externally, as they set new objectives and goals. Here are a few inflection points to consider as you evaluate next steps in your company’s growth.
Financial Milestones – Reaching a major financial milestone could be an indicator it is also time to review your brand strategy going forward. Are you looking to expand your reach geographically or into adjacent markets? Has your growth impacted your brand internally (corporate culture) as you have grown to meet demand? If the answers to these questions are yes, then you should consider refreshing your brand.
Growth Through Acquisition – At each milestone of an aggressive acquisition growth strategy, corporate leadership should evaluate the organization’s overarching brand message. Integrating acquired brands has a huge impact on overall brand and corporate culture, and a strong integration plan at each step is vital to maintaining position and equity as these are transferred to the parent company. Often, creating a new brand may result in the whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
Longevity – If your brand identity is more than seven to ten years old, it’s time to re-evaluate your brand. To stay top of mind, a brand must remain relevant providing brand messaging which inspires your audience to buy into your products or services. Keep branding in mind as you journey through your corporate lifecycle. Just as you must refresh your product or service offering, you must also refresh your brand.
Competition – Has the competitive landscape changed recently? What are your competitors doing? Has it impacted how the audience perceives your brand? Brands should lead the charge in their respective markets, own the conversation and have their finger on the pulse of consumer needs and desires. Knowing how competition interprets the landscape gives brands the opportunity to change the conversation and climb a ladder of their own making to success. Owning the conversation may mean re-branding.
Technology – Environmental factors such as dramatic changes in technology can have an impact on brands. For instance, with the advent of the smart phone, brand savvy companies immediately re-branded with identity elements that were clearly recognizable in a smaller mobile platform. Keeping up technological advances will mean updating your brand strategy as well.
Audience – Has your audience changed? Are you delivering relevant products, services and corresponding brand messaging? Again, your brand is tied to the products, services, vision, mission and all aspects of your company, which should mirror those needs of your target audience.
Remember, your brand is that gut feeling your audience has about your company and the product and services you provide. Your brand identity (your logo and other elements) helps your customers recall that gut feeling and keep you on the path to future success.