Managing an organisation’s brand effectively can be one of the key differentiators that helps it stand out from the crowd in a competitive marketplace. Therefore, your can’t afford to be complacent about your brand.
A brand is simply what people think of you. It’s their perception, made up of what you look like, say and do. Whether a business is well established or just starting out, it’s important to have a very clear picture of what you want your audience to perceive of you and compare it to what they think. If there is a gap, then it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
We have identified three warning signs that a brand could be under threat:
1. Increased competition and declining sales
Businesses need to keep up with market trends and evolve as they change. Being unique is a key strength for brand messaging. An increase in the number of direct competitors indicates a product or service is becoming more mainstream. Therefore, profit is not increasing in line with the growth in the market as a whole, managers may need to re-evaluate organisational practices and brand strategy.
To remain competitive, it’s also crucial to maintain relevance in the market. Relevance involves truly understanding your customers, their needs and their wants. Achieving relevance means that your brand is positioned to meet these needs.
2. The brand’s position in the market isn’t clearly defined
It is important to constantly monitor where competitors sit in the marketplace relative to each other and to your business in question. By reviewing aspects such as product range, price and availability, businesses can properly assess who has what position in the market. If a brand is in the same space as several competitors, it may need to consider making changes to differentiate itself.
If differentiation is needed, it can be useful to look at the gaps in the market to see where there may be an opportunity to capitalise on new segments or product offerings with less competition. It’s important for businesses to clearly and strategically plan their move from one market position to the next.
3. Customer understanding is low
As more choice becomes available, consumers often go with what they know or can easily understand. A brand cannot be successful if its potential customers don’t understand its offering or message, so simplicity is always key to a consumer’s decision-making process.
Many businesses use clever ideas to connect their customers to their image, evoke an emotion and create understanding of their product or service. For example, Woolworths is known as “Australia’s fresh food people” and for years, people sang, “Coke is it.” These songs and slogans are an integral part of a brand’s foundation, and create bonds with consumers for a lasting impression.
While a business may sense that its brand is in jeopardy based on one or more of these signs, chances are any damage can be remedied with the right tools and mindset. The reason companies create brands is to resonate with their target audience. Managers should therefore think about how your brand stands out, where it should be playing, and how to get it there. Working with a brand management expert can help businesses understand the current perceptions and how to improve better bottom line performance.
Dan Ratner, Managing Director, uberbrand