There are no dynasties without branding.
Long gone are the days of the three channel television, unofficial estimates say there are at least 15,000 global television channels. Consumers can cherry pick their entertainment. This isn’t isolated to television. Consumers are inundated with products which seemingly offer the same value.
American Express, unable to adapt to market evolution, is finding it increasingly difficult to attract millennials. They are lacking a fundamental of today’s business, a strong brand, and they are paying for it with year over year losses.
From failed startups to fallen corporate giants, there are four indications that a company collapse is on the horizon.
The Four Horsemen of Business Failure
- We’re struggling to gain new customers
- We don’t see a value from marketing
- We don’t have interaction on social media
- We can’t agree on our top priorities
You may have encountered one or all of these in your career. They cause confusion and wasted time. A strong company brand mitigates all of these problems and sends the horsemen scrambling back to the depths from whence they came.
The Horseman of Customer Loyalty
The Effects: You struggle with low market saturation. You get new customers but not repeat customers. You have to resort to coupons and giveaways.
In a way, we have two brains, our ‘old-brain’ (hindbrain) and our ‘new-brain’ (neocortex). The old-brain processes information based on its senses, like safety, food, and attraction. It unconsciously processes that information much faster than the new-brain. The new-brain processes complex data such as why did the old-brain react? It’s our analytical side.
Cultural terms for the old-brain: gut reaction, instinct, intuition, hunch
Your company needs to connect with your customers on that gut level. Your competitors will offer the same product for the same, maybe lower price. Your branding makes you stand out and help overwhelmed consumers choose from a crowded marketplace. Your branding helps consumers feel connected with your company so that when they purchase your product they are reinforcing their own value system. This is what has created generations of brand loyalty for companies like Harley Davidson, Disney, and Apple.
Branding Enables Your Company Growth
Because of branding, companies have been able to spread across multiple products. For example, Guinness is able to offer more than just beer, their current web store offers clothing, chips, housewares, jewelry, and most remarkably, luxury chocolates.
What if the Guinness brand, officially Guinness & Co, was instead Guinness Beer & Co. It’s a seemingly small change, but the impact to the consumer is huge. In their mind, the products or services are immediately limited to beer. Guinness Beer Chips would only work in situations where the consumer wants a beer, instead of any other beverage. The consumer’s old brain has made the choice. Guinness Beer Chips are only for beer. Not for kids. Not for soda. Not for picnics. Not for the workplace, etc.
If this seems implausible, Apple Inc changed their name for this exact reasoning.
When you are branded correctly, you don’t sell products, you sell feelings. If your market changes, you can change with it because you can’t commoditize a feeling.
The Horseman of Purposeless Marketing
The Effect: You question the value behind marketing. You don’t know if your marketing dollars are generating any leads.
What is Branding?
Branding is confused with marketing. Your marketing is your logo, your advertising campaigns, your website, things like that. Your branding is the feeling that you elicit in your customers.
It started with cattle ranchers. If you saw their mark, then you not only knew who that cow belonged to, but who the rancher was, who they hired, if they took good care of their stock, if they offered fair prices at market, etc. After a while, it doesn’t matter what the rancher brands, sheep, pigs, llamas, they are representations of the rancher.
Marketing is like the rancher giving away branded t-shirts at a rodeo, it supports the brand, it doesn’t dictate it.
Your branding should precede any marketing efforts and it should set the tone for how you market to your potential customers. Your marketing budget is wasted if you can’t tell a customer why they should prefer you over your competitor.
Marketing is a tool to get your products in front of customers. Your branding inspires them to make a purchase. Branding doesn’t explicitly say ‘Buy Me’. It says ‘This is why I’m here. This is why your life will be better. Support something you identify with, tell your friends who you are.’
The Horseman of Customer Feedback
The Effects: Your social media is dead. Your Facebook ads are a bust. Nobody leaves you reviews. Your email open rate is dropping.
You know you need to be on social media, but you may struggle with customer interaction. What should you say on social media? What parallel interests appeal to your target market? With a clear brand identity, you can target the best social media and apply strategies for each one.
Find the social media that your customers are communicating on and be there too. Branding your company gives your company a personality. The best examples of brands with personality are huge viral successes, such as Wendy’s Twitter clapback, Dollar Shave Club, and Squatty Potty.
Social media is still primarily social
Social media is a valuable platform for brand exposure and top-of-mind marketing. When your business posts too many self-promotions and product deals, then followers ignore your posts or they come to expect a coupon, and will hold off on a purchase until the next one.
Branding brings your company personality into the social sphere. You can appear to communicate to your customers personally and stop looking like a faceless corporation. You can also begin conversations about issues that matter to your customers, ones that you may not be aware of.
The Horseman of Priorities
The Effects: Management is heading in separate directions. Employees become disengaged. Nothing seems to get done because of too many opinions.
Start-up expert Paul Graham, a partner at the Y Combinator startup accelerator, writes that startups most often fail because a founder leaves. Any company founded on a single person isn’t just doomed to fail, it’s ridiculously unhealthy for that person.
In order to create a dynastic company, you need a foundation of tenets. We call them Brand Cornerstones – four words that sum up your company values. Every project your business takes on must be supported by those values to maintain a consistent brand identity. It’s like giving the orchestra the same sheet music so that any conductor can come in and get a top-notch performance.
Get the Basics Right and Get Ahead
Your business probably has a brand identity in there somewhere. The founders had a vision when they registered it as a new business. Just take a week, set some meetings, and identify it or give us a call and we can help you out!