How High Can You Climb?
All brands, like markets and customer perceptions, are constantly changing. In some instances, this change happens very rapidly. In others it is barely perceptible. But make no mistake—they are changing.
The key to branding success is to recognize this change and make adjustments at the appropriate time to retain existing audiences and take advantage of opportunities to grow new ones. Move too early and you could over-correct course and lose your existing audience. Move too late and you could expend unnecessary resources playing catch up. But how do you know where you are and what your course of action should be?
For a quick snapshot of where your brand is, imagine a ladder. At the top are brands in tune with their markets and moving in concert with their audience. On the last rung are brands barely hanging on, reacting and countering moves by others. In the middle are brands that aren’t quite sure where they stand. Here are some high-level points to consider and determine where a brand might be positioned.
1: Top Rung – Aware
The Top Rung Brands are staying ahead of the curve. They might be two months old or two hundred years old. The key points are that they know their audience, their services, and they move proactively to keep the two engaged and find new opportunities to re-engage. These organizations are market and category drivers that set the pace for their competitors.
- • Use data insights to stay in-tune with audiences across multiple channels
- • Leverage data-driven marketing to communicate at the right time and place
- • Consistently growing sales
- • Clearly identified and stated competitive differentiators
2: Middle Rungs – Myopic
Middle Rung Brands aren’t sure where they stand. Often they rely on what has always worked before and they don’t proactively drive engagement with their audience. That’s also why this is the most dangerous position. Because they don’t know what they don’t know, if a rapid market disruption occurs, they could be left behind before they have time to effectively change course. They do not see far enough in any direction to recognize that their brand is mature, and instead, focus on the immediate here and now.
- • Stale message that doesn’t resonate with audience
- • Plateaued sales growth
- • Message shows lack of competitive awareness
- • Siloed and isolated work groups and processes
3: Bottom Rung – In Trouble
While we say that those on the Bottom Rung are “in trouble,” they are in a better position than the middle rungs. They’ve taken the first step to change their situation. They’ve seen enough warning signs to know that they need help now. Taking action now enables them to reposition their brand in line with their desired audience.
- • Tone deaf or mute messages
- • Aging-out or shrinking audience
- • Sagging sales growth
- • Associates display signs of desperation or worse, abandonment
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you evaluate your brand and marketing. If you’d like to learn more about how to determine if your brand is mature and a course of action to keep you on the top rung, download our ebook, Five Gates of Branding.
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