Every brand has a lifecycle. The amount of time spent in each stage varies. A brand is started (startup). It grows (rapid growth) – most often at a quick pace. Then it plateaus (maturity).
Every brand reaches the plateau, or consistent flow of business where it’s not increasing or decreasing, at some point along the lifecycle. The plateau is the maturity stage. And it’s a great place for a brand to be – for a while. Why? Because it’s time to celebrate and acknowledge, “We did it!”. It’s the time when a brand realizes it earned customers, has a consistent revenue stream and gained customer loyalty.
It’s imperative that brands do not setup camp and unpack in the maturity stage, though. That is where a brand gets lost…amidst the competition. Brands get stuck in the “status quo” or become too comfortable. And you know what happens when your brand is too comfortable…it doesn’t grow.
Brands also need to be able to depict the highest value opportunities to pursue. Brands that chase new opportunities – for the sake of chasing although it may not be the right opportunity – often times will take them off course, away from their core competency and what truly made them unique from the beginning. This is a common misstep that can lead to a slow and painful decline in brand value.
So….here’s what you need to know:
you can’t stay in the maturity stage forever
That’s right. You can visit the maturity stage but eventually there are only two paths from there:
1) Milk the brand for all it’s worth THEN decline toward death
2) Start the downward spiral toward a quick death
I don’t know about you but I don’t like either path. Keep in mind that your target market has choices – they can buy from you or the competition. It’s already challenging enough to stay ahead of the curve, reinvent your brand, reposition your business for new growth and ultimately keep business flowing. But if you can’t keep up, you can’t expect your business to continue to thrive.
With that said, these steps will keep your brand young and consistently positioned for sustainable growth:
1: Commit to Change
Moving beyond the maturity stage is impossible without changing your business, technology, products and/or services. Every day, regardless of what position you hold at the company, ask “How can we put our company out of business?” Progress is impossible without change.
2: Commit to Grow
To keep your brand healthy, you need to continue to find ways to keep your brand fresh without wavering from your core position. This can be through processes, innovation, technology, etc. Think back to when the business started and how you got it to where it is today. You thought about your industry differently in the beginning. You listened to your target market. You identified a niche opportunity and uncovered a pain point in your market. You were hungry. Re-energize that hunger again – commit to uncovering more opportunities and you will create new growth. Never stop thinking like a startup.
3: Commit to Evaluate
The economic value you provide to your customers must be unique to your brand. Forget “features and benefits”. That’s old news. Every brand has those. What makes you unique and why should you be the decision amongst all the choices? Make the decision easy – for existing customers to stay with you and new customers to start doing business with you. Show them what value you bring to that particular pain point and how you’re solving the problem. If you want something different, you have to stop doing the common.
4: Commit to Engage
If you’re only leading the company from the inside, your brand will become stagnant. Outside perspective is fresh and unique. You will always know more of the in’s and out’s of your brand and how the business is conducted. But what your customers know is what will keep your brand alive, keep them coming back, and ultimately keep you in business.
Always find ways to engage with your audience. If you ask, they will respond. Ask questions, follow them on social media (as appropriate for your brand and the established policies), comment on any new and potential business, provide industry information, provide helpful tips, create incentives and drive traffic where you want them to go. Create engagement opportunities. The only sustainable competitive advantage with customers today is knowledge and engagement.
5: Commit to Value
Always look at what you are providing your customers – not how much. Price is not the same as value. Value is what you are providing them in exchange for cost. When a buying decision is being made, are you solving that problem? What’s the pain point and what will your customer gain by doing business with you? The true value of your brand is in the experience, the problem you solve for them and if they tell others about the experience.
If you’re having doubts about any of the 5 Commitments – or aren’t quite ready to commit to all of them – take a look at this article then return to this page.
When you’re ready to commit to grow, you’re ready to keep your brand young and in growth mode.
Learn more about how mature brands can discover renewed growth in our ebook, Five Gates of Branding.
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