Most successful business owners know: brand matters. But in today’s environment of constant change and innovation, it can be easy for businesses to fall behind or fail to continue to distinguish themselves and their brand from the competition. What once resonated perfectly with your target audience may no longer fit the bill based on this changing environment, your changing business model, or your changing audience. And a brand that doesn’t change with the times gets left in the dust.
So, it may be time for you to ask a pretty tough question: is my company’s brand boring? And if so, how can I revamp it? Let’s look at five ways to do just that.
Understand where you’re starting
Whether you’re revamping an outdated brand or rebranding after a flurry of acquisitions, you have to have a starting point. Usually this means researching your industry (yes, even if you already have). Businesses add new services and revamp their existing ones every day. To know where your business fits into your marketplace, market research should take place at least once a year.
Seek internal perspectives
Another important aspect of a brand overhaul is understanding the perspectives of your own employees and other internal stakeholders. A company’s own employees are some of the most important gatekeepers and biggest advocates for your brand, and they can contribute valuable ideas outside of their typical job title that can help shape it. Conducting an objective third-party survey can help to quickly and efficiently get their perspective on your brand. If the survey shows that employees have varying views of the company brand—or if they just plain don’t like it—chances are the brand needs to be better defined not just with the public, but also internally.
Know your audience
Gaining insights from your customers is key. Interviews can be a powerful means of gathering information because you can ask follow-up questions, which might take the discussion in a direction an email or online survey wouldn’t. Perhaps new leads have recently dropped dramatically, but your company has an impressive number of clients that have been around for years. Talk to those folks. Find out why—with all the competition out there—they stay loyal to your brand. Why did they buy from you, and why are they still here? How your customers talk about your company is just as important as how internal employees see you.
Know your challengers
Almost every business claims their product or idea is “innovative” or “the first of its kind” or something similar. And sometimes it truly is. But for most businesses, there are competitors out there doing practically the same thing or selling practically the same product. And there is sometimes a difference between what a company is actually doing or selling, and what they say they are doing and selling. It’s vital to clearly understand how your competitors are positioned, what they’re saying to the marketplace, and where they’re saying it. Conducting a competitive audit can help you see how you compare in terms of:
- Clarity of message
- Design and visual identity
- Channel efficacy (that is, how are they using marketing across channels?)
As you can see, to be effective, the audit needs to be comprehensive. If conducting this kind of audit seems daunting, consider hiring an external marketing partner to take it on.
Analyze your findings
Finally, it’s time to synthesize your findings. Assess what your customers have told you they care about, what your employees and stakeholders think you should be communicating, and what you and your competition are actually communicating to the marketplace. Pinpoint main themes that emerged during your research, too. Ask the following questions:
- What surprising information came up?
- How do emerging trends relate to your customer? Company? Competitors?
- What is the area of greatest opportunity?
- Where are potential threats to your business?
- Are you well-positioned against your competitors? If not, how can you improve?
- Is there a niche you can “own”?
Answering these questions will help determine what is lacking in your brand—and whether you’re boring or, well, cool. Analysis of these responses will help you create a story for your company that is unique, authentic, and bold, grabbing the attention of new customers while keeping existing ones confident.