Move Forward or Fall Behind

Brands must reinvent themselves regularly or risk becoming old news

Since the very beginning, brands have always had to shift, evolve and change to meet the demands of customers. And when brands don’t … well, just ask 8-track manufacturers how well ignoring a shifting business environment worked out for them.

Since the very beginning, brands have always had to shift, evolve and change to meet the demands of their customers. And when they don’t… well, just ask 8-track manufacturers how well ignoring a shifting business environment worked out for them.

Today’s brands are faced with an increasingly splintered audience with no shortage of options and alternatives. For your brand to survive and thrive it’s more important than ever to establish a position that allows you to pivot to meet your customers where they are today, and anticipate where they will be tomorrow.

Is it time?

The most important aspect of moving your brand forward is recognizing the signals that it’s time to make a change. Your first line of feedback is, of course, your customers—they will tell you what’s working and what’s not by voting with their wallets. But it’s better to be proactive and take action before declining sales or customer defection force your hand. Here are a few indicators to look out for:

The most important aspect of moving your brand forward is recognizing the signals that it’s time to make a change.
  • Your products have changed. If your products and/or services have changed significantly over time, it’s a good idea to reevaluate your brand to make sure you’re still connecting with the right customers in the right way.
  • Your mission has changed. Perhaps you started out as a niche retailer and expanded your offerings, or a secondary product line grew to become your best seller. Recognize when shifts in your business occur and take advantage of them.
  • Your business model has changed. Have you changed how you sell? If you find yourself leveraging new sales channels such as events, webinars, e-commerce, interactive video, etc., it may be time to reconsider the focus of your brand.
  • Your brand is stale. Your brand can continue to chug along without huge fluctuations up or down. But flat sales may indicate that your branding has become dated, irrelevant or otherwise no longer connects with new customers. That’s a clear sign that something must be done.

What’s First?

If you are considering altering, evolving or reinventing your brand, you need to consider the full ramifications of the change. Things like business cards, letterhead and print ads are relatively simple to change. Websites, brochures and other sales collateral may be more challenging. Vehicle wraps and signage on the side of your building might be the most difficult of all.

Take the time to audit all of the branded materials you have out in the world, both customer facing and internal. Once you have a comprehensive list of assets, you can begin to prioritize.

Tackling all of these touchpoints at once can easily get out of hand and bust your marketing budget. A more economical approach may be to address key customer-facing elements first: business cards, email templates, sales scripts and the like. Larger scale elements like signage can be rolled out in a later phase. Whatever the approach, it’s critical to have a strategic plan on how you’re identifying all marketing elements that need to change as well as how and when you’re rolling out the new branding and/or messaging.

Evolution is not nearly as frightening as declining sales graphic

Throughout the process, you must consider your customers’ tolerance for change. An infamous case study is the introduction of New Coke. The Coca-Cola Company vastly underestimated customers’ love for the brand, and the backlash it suffered was immediate and severe.

Likewise, when GAP rolled out a new logo the response was extremely negative, so much so that it quickly reverted to the original.

It’s important to calculate if the good done by the change will outweigh any confusion or pushback from your existing brand loyalists. That said, there will always be people who hate all change, regardless of the good it does. Listen to everyone’s feedback—internally and externally—but don’t let a vocal minority prevent you from making a decision that you know will hold long-term good for the company.

[Evolution is] not nearly as frightening as declining sales.

Finally, consider how to roll out new branding and/or messaging internally. It’s critical that your sales force, customer service reps and other internal stakeholders know and understand why the company has undergone a change to the branding. This not only lessens the natural fear of change, but also helps your staff explain the change to your customers.

Embrace Change

Change can be uncomfortable or even frightening. But not nearly as frightening as declining sales or watching your competition overtake your position in the market.

If you carefully consider the motivations for a change, take into account your customers’ desires and expectations, and execute strategically you’ll never have to worry about ending up like an 8-track in a landfill.

Extra Insight

Changing Missions in the Biomedical World

Compass Biomedical is a biomedical technology company with locations in Hopkinton, MA and Cleveland, OH. The Compass brand was originally a sub-brand under the Arteriocyte brand, but a corporate restructuring necessitated that the Compass brand live on its own.

Kolby Day, VP and General Manager for Compass, explained, “We wanted to create a distinct presence from Arteriocyte to signify internally and externally our new focus on developing innovative solutions in wound care and ophthalmic applications.”

To express this change in mission, Compass Biomedical engaged thunder::tech to develop an entirely new visual identity and messaging platform for the company.

“It was important to change the look and feel of our brand to demonstrate our staying power, our new focus on working with others to commercialize their research and compress their time to market,” Day said.

The new visual brand helped convey the company’s concentration on innovative research, and the new positioning statement and “elevator speech” provided the foundational messaging to explain the new approach to business.

Day continued, “We use the positioning statement on our website and at company presentations to explain our focus and market position. The elevator speech has helped us have a more streamlined way of explaining ‘what do we do?’ in conversations and introductions.”

Listen to Our Podcast Episode to Learn About the Three Phases of Reinventing Your Brand
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