Is there a gauge for determining if your brand on is the downhill slide? If things are looking good on the surface, does that always mean that bright days lie ahead? And can every brand rely on a rich history to pave the way to its future?
These are questions commonly asked of us by owners of established brands—those who have seen other big, established brands fall and want to avoid the same fate for their own. Some have seen troubling signs, in their account ledgers or in the responses of their customers. Others worry that they don’t know what to look for when gauging the current level of their success.
So stick around. We’re firing up our business stethoscopes and talking about the indicators of poor brand health.
Is Your Brand Healthy? A Checklist
We’ve said it before: your brand is your business’s most valuable asset, in a close race for significance with your team members. However, many business owners get caught up in the current liquid monetary value of their brand—forgetting how much things like brand recognition, brand awareness and brand trustworthiness contribute to the current and future value of their brands.
A brand isn’t a build-it-once proposition. A brand is a living, breathing entity that must be designed, created, expanded…and then continually nurtured and maintained. Today’s numbers aren’t enough to predict tomorrow’s fate.
So how can you know if your brand is prepared for a long, healthy life? Give it a regular health check, consisting of the following tests:
- Has your profit margin become the only thing that matters? Your customers and your WHY must be at the top of your list of priorities. If you started the brand with only profit in mind, or your focus has shifted in that direction, your brand won’t last. It won’t take long for customers to figure out they’re being used, and it won’t take long for you to lose all motivation. You have to love what you do. You must have a purpose beyond profit.
- Is the brand buzz fading? When people are talking publically about your brand, that also means they’re recommending it in other personal and professional conversations. All talk is valuable; little or no talk is cause for alarm. Reignite the conversation. Involve and engage those with great brand advocate potential. Sometimes the buzz fades simply because people have run out of things to talk about. Give them news and they’re more likely to talk.
- Has your brand been operating on auto-pilot? If your answer is YES, then your brand’s health is poor. How can I know this? Because no brand can manage itself. No brand can respond on its own to market shifts, trends and assault from competitors. No brand can tweak its own branding strategy or revamp its website. Your brand needs you to steer it, with eyes and ears open to what’s going on around it.
- Is your brand relying on its history to secure its future? Equity and reputation will only take a brand—even the best and biggest brand—so far. Markets change. Consumer trends and preferences change. The willingness to stay on the cusp of those changes, and then respond accordingly within your brand’s values and your ideal client’s needs, will separate the healthy brands from those with poor diagnoses. Even the most highly regarded brand can perish…without attention to keeping it relevant.
- Are there copycats on your heels? There are loads of astute businesspeople out there, and they’re watching your brand. They’re looking not only for signs of value in your brand, but for signs of weakness in it. They are watching as you build a following…and waiting for an opening to swoop in and usurp that following. They are like vultures, really: they wouldn’t bother circling over your brand unless they detect a potential weakness (a.k.a. opening in the market). Use their astuteness to your advantage and tighten up.
- Have you entertained the idea of engaging in a price war? Have you had to cut overhead in order to maintain your profit margin? Have you had to drop list prices in order to remain competitive? Have customers become more focussed on “the deal,” rather than on the value of establishing long-term relationships with your brand? If the answer to even one of these questions is YES, then it’s time to refocus—to get out there and find your ideal client [again] and invest your time, money and energy in those customers who see the value in what you’re offering and who are happy to pay you what you’re worth. A price war is one of the most blatant signs that trouble lies ahead. Where will the price-slashing end? Sadly, it will end when either you or your competition can’t pay the let fees and the doors have to close…and then the rest suffer from too-low prices and the inability to raise them and keep customers. In short, no one wins a price war.
When you own or manage a brand, your work is never finished. This doesn’t mean that you have to work overtime—it simply means that you must have a plan in place for keeping your brand healthy, relevant and interesting to its audience.
Not sure how your brand would score in a health check? Find out by contacting us to learn more about how we can help you to make your brand more credible, visible and profitable. Or, bypass the contact form and register today for the B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp of your choice. It’s a full-day, fully immersive branding experience that will put you on the path to brand brilliance.