The answer to this question is always yes. Branding is never a one and done proposition. Building strong brands takes both time and attention. And, if you falter on the attention piece, you need to beware of the consequences. Some of which can be customer and internal confusion, competitive inroads, weak messaging, and a decline in brand value and equity.
There are a few key questions you should ask yourself to know if you’ve taken your eye off the ball or if you are in a good place with your brand:
WHAT DOES THE BRAND DO EXCEPTIONALLY WELL, BETTER THAN ALL OR MOST OTHERS?
You need to be able to answer this question without hesitation. If you ask this question about Volvo, what do you think the answer is? Safety, of course. They do it better than anyone. Check out the latest commercial from them:
It leaves you with such a positive feeling about the brand, doesn’t it? The topic of women being overlooked in research is highlighted in a recent episode of 99% Invisible, titled “Invisible Women.” I listened to this podcast over the summer and was astounded at all the ways women were basically not included in studies, research and product design. You should listen to it too, it’s fascinating. Then, I saw the Volvo commercial a few weeks ago. I felt like it was a reply to the podcast and other media that were telling the same story– that all safety matters, for everyone.
What makes your brand different?
I sat in a presentation a couple of years ago at the AdAge Small Agency conference by the agency that reinvigorated the Energizer brand, Camp + King. Think about the category Energizer competes in, batteries. How does anyone do anything different in batteries? They functionally are really all the same. And, when one brand figures out how to do something better than the other, like “lasts 25% longer”, it is typically short lived as competitors catch up quickly. What Camp + King realized, is that the Energizer bunny has so much personality that it creates “brand magnetism”– attracting away from Duracell and to the Energizer brand. It’s what makes Energizer different.
They took the “brand guide” for the bunny and threw it away, and pumped up the bunny’s personality, like in this spot.
I smile every time I see these ads. This is brilliant, differentiated branding.
Is your brand still relevant?
We all know that hardly anything stays the same. Brands that don’t keep up with changes in the market or aren’t in tune with changing customer needs, wants, fears, likes and dislikes may see their relevance slip away. I love referencing Netflix, a brand that could have easily died, but instead kept up with changing technology and behavior to eventually dominate the streaming tv market. Do you remember that Netflix started as a mail order DVD rental company? Then they moved to an online, on demand model. Then, they started producing their own content, starting with the award winning series, “House of Cards.” Netflix changed how people watch TV and what they expect TV content to be. Whatever is next for Netflix, it is bound to bring more entertainment value to viewers around the globe.
Does your brand reflect your core belief?
A core belief is the timeless essence of the brand. The one thing that never changes over time. If you are questioning if you even have a core belief, take pause and get help figuring it out. Steve Jobs returned to a faltering Apple in 1996. In 1997, he famously spoke about the brand and the need for the brand to communicate what the core belief of the brand is (see video below). He said, at Apple “we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.” That’s at the core of their brand.
If you think about it, lots of brands could make this same statement, right? It’s not necessarily unique to Apple. But what this core belief does is grounds the brand in purpose and then opens a world of possibility in how they execute against the belief that drives differentiation and builds brand value. Apple built on this core belief to become the dominant mobile phone brand, not to mention their strong share of tablet and pc/laptop market as well.
We are incredibly passionate about branding and helping companies build and manage strong brands. If you need help, just reach out. In the meantime, feel free to deepen your knowledge by visiting our branding page.