The sum of the beliefs, ideas, and impressions a consumer possesses of what a specific brand represents defines the overall branding. Branding traditionally consists of the look of the product and its accessories, such as logos, slogans, and other identifiers. There are many factors at play when customers are interacting with a brand. This perception of the brand can be strengthened via advertising, word of mouth publicity, packaging, and other tools. The McDonald’s golden arches are a part of their branding. Another example is the Nike swoosh or the Coca Cola font.
So how do you know when your branding is working for your business? Ideally, the branding should be strong, direct, and clear. This will pique the curiosity of new customers. It will also establish a sense of familiarity between you and your existing customers and will eliminate confusion between your products and your competitor’s product. This helps in customer retention. Good branding also helps create an emotional bond between the customer and the brand, thus creating goodwill towards your brand.
You’ll have to assess your branding and gauge how it makes your customers feel about your product. Are they coming back for more? Are they engaged with you more? Is it differentiating you from your competitors? What is its impact? Figuring out these aspects will help you decide whether you’re on the right path or not. Simply put, if your branding strategy is attracting new customers, keeping them around, and helping you build a loyal fan base – your branding is working for you.
Going back to the McDonald’s example, it’s worth noting how the mere sight of their golden arches invokes images of a Big Mac and Ronald McDonald. It’s this kind of immediate association and recognizability that every brand wants.
Sadly, there are many instances where business owners miss the target when it comes to branding. Inconsistent branding, confusing messages, or an image that is too similar to their competitors are just a few factors that show that your branding strategy may not be working for your business. There are many downsides to a poorly planned and executed strategy, ranging from loss of customers to getting submerged in a sea of similar brands/ products. Let us explore some of these indicators.
1) You are not getting new clients or customers
This is the most important indicator. And you need to be wary of this. Are you seeing a dip in clients? Why is this happening? It could be that your branding is outdated or irrelevant in today’s market. This can make your brand fade into obscurity. An example of a brand fading into irrelevancy is Nokia. While the principal issue was irrelevance brought on by a technological disruption, they also refused to rebrand their boring, old-fashioned image. Even when they tried to join the world of smartphones no one paid any attention. Ultimately, they gave way to more image-conscious brands such as Apple.
2) Your company is offering new services and/or products but no one seems to care
Perhaps your company has grown and now includes a new value proposition and offerings. This is great! Congratulations. But what’s the point if no one seems to care? Many times, we forget that major new developments in our company have to reflect in our branding strategy. This is essential if you want customers to know about your new offerings and remember them over time. Rebranding is also a good idea when fundamental price points in your offerings change.
Amazon and Flipkart are two examples of companies that started out with a specific offering but branched out (and fast!) They initially only sold books but after including different services, they successfully rebranded themselves as sources to purchase multiple items.
3) No one is finding your core message appealing
Overcomplicated or convoluted messaging can turn people off. Is your branding too complex for people to understand? If your messaging is confusing or difficult to relate to, you’re going to have a problem. Not only will this drive away customers it can also turn into a PR nightmare.
An interesting incident that comes to mind is when Kellogg’s first entered the Indian market in 1994. The breakfast cereal brand was met with disdain as Indian consumers felt it was too alien and too expensive to be a regular breakfast staple. The locals at the time were more comfortable with eating traditional breakfast items that tended to be heartier and the comparatively tasteless cornflakes failed to impress. This foray is widely considered to be a failure. Kellogg’s had to introduce more familiar flavors in the Indian market, such as Mango flavored cornflakes, and take on a more familiar avatar in order to appeal to the local consumers.
4) No one seems to understand what you’re all about
SpiceJet’s ‘With All Our Heart Campaign’ is an example of a branding campaign that left quite a few people confused. The campaign was supposed to introduce the airliner’s new menu but was not effectively expressed, neither in the messaging nor in where the communications appeared. The ads, ironically, didn’t actually put that much focus on the food.
Along with clear messaging, your content has to be consistent as well. If your messaging is different on different platforms, it can be very confusing to your audience. You need to be communicating the same things whether it’s on social channels like Instagram, Facebook, your offline channels like outdoor billboards, magazine adverts, and the other forums where your branding is visible.
5) People seem to misunderstand your intentions
Last year, the usually on point Dove made a branding faux pas. An ad showed an African-American woman using their product and transforming into a Caucasian woman. Unsurprisingly, the ad was panned. And it was insensitive considering how Dove has built an image for themselves based on being thoughtful.
Now perhaps Dove won’t need something as comprehensive as a rebrand since their previous advertisements and the customer goodwill they’ve built over the years might be enough to save them from this misstep. But something like this could adversely impact a smaller and lesser known company.
In a dynamic world, branding cannot afford to be static. It runs the risk of getting caught up in the slipstream of events beyond their control. Here’s an example – in America in the 1970s was a popular brand of diet chocolate called ‘AYDs’. This was around the same time awareness about AIDs and related illnesses were increasing. Keeping this context in mind, it doesn’t sound like the most delectable chocolate to eat, does it? Similarly, Tata Motors had announced a new hatchback model in 2017, Zica. Not surprisingly, they had to then hastily wheel back the brand name when a deadly virus of the same name struck worldwide.
If your brand image is sending out the wrong message to the target audience of your choice – it’s definitely time for a rebrand.
6) You’re not standing out from the crowd OR your competition has caught up
Every organization is unique -so, is your branding a true reflection of who you are? If your branding is consuming by entropy and no longer reflective of your core values and your inner positive valence then you risk being seen an inauthentic and opportunistic. In this case, chances are you are chasing a market trend that most of your competitors would be chasing too. This is a race to the bottom and you will feel compelled to respond to every fad, fashion, or social media-driven trend that the competition throws up. Yup, it’s time for a rebrand.
7) Risk of damage to reputation
Like in the case of Dove, many a brand has made a faux pas only to have it hurt their reputation. Cadbury’s was accused of manufacturing practices that did not guarantee the cleanliness and purity of some of their most iconic chocolates in India. A massive public effort had to follow to help set the brand impression right again. This included Amitabh Bachchan being roped in as brand ambassador to recapture the trust of the public. The brand also came out with a bunch of new variants that served to draw the attention away from the chocolate bar that had been perceived as tainted.
Re-branding need not be a frightening process. All it requires is appropriate research, planning, and creativity. Give your brand a story that plugs right into the core “Purpose” of the brand. Streamline your image so as not to get confused in the clutter. You can take measures to revitalize yourself and broaden your audience. A good example of successful rebranding is Old Spice.
Old Spice was introduced in the market in 1938. They were initially a women’s brand but released products for men as well. Considering how long the brand has been in the market, it’s only natural that they became associated with the older generation. But over time, the product’s popularity waned drastically because, and let’s be honest here, who wants to smell like their grandparents?
In 2010, they surprised everyone by launching their new brand image during the popular Superbowl. They got a popular footballer, Isaiah Mustafa, to be the face of their brand and even customized their age-old tagline to be more relevant. They even brought on board the super-popular Terry Crews. Their ads and other communication hit all the right buttons by satirizing their own past, serious and stuffy image. The rebrand and ad campaign were so successful, that their sales shot up.
What did Old Spice do right? They had realized that they were becoming irrelevant and no one wanted to know about their products anymore. So, what did they do? They studied their market, chose an event like the Superbowl to launch their new ad, chose young and relevant people to be the face of their brand and joined along as the younger generation laughed at their pompousness. Their ability to take the joke, even if it was on them, helped them to steal the limelight from tough competitors, such as Dove. They saw the signs that they needed to rebrand and they did it.
Are you experiencing any (or all!) of these symptoms? It may mean that it’s time for a rebranding. But, as we can see, rebranding can be interesting, exciting, and just the boost your business needs. Reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org!