Let’s remember first exactly what “brand” means. Your logo is not your brand. It is only a part of your brand, often referred to as your “branding” or “brand identity”. The brand itself is every aspect of how you do you what you; the very fabric of your business, the values and beliefs that drive things from the inside and how every detail of the experience feels like for customers on the outside.
Brands succeed over time when companies do two things: They adapt to reflect the changing business landscape and they evolve the brand style and messaging accordingly. To give this some context, think about huge brands like BP moved away from British Petroleum to be a broader, greener energy brand. Or, how McDonald's has spent the last 20 years changing it’s garish, oily burger joints to be meeting places with salads on the menu. None of this was part of the plan, it was reactive in response to changing lifestyles and markets. BP still sells petrol and McDonald's still sells burgers but they do it very differently to the way they did 20 years ago; they are moving away from being an “oil” business and a “burger” business towards being an “energy” business and a “eat and speak easy” business.
When you look at things this way you will see how important is to be constantly evolving. So, every year, you should take time out to look at your entire business, from the ground up, and ask yourself “what needs to change?”. At the very least, I recommend a company refreshes its brand image and messaging every 4-5 years. The key is to remember that change is not necessarily substantial and that continuous, smaller changes generally negate the need for big and costly ones later on. It’s at that point companies become resistant to any change at all as all they see is the financial cost of it – that is a slippery slope that has to be avoided because it’s when a brand starts to gather dust and fall behind.
A good place to start is usually your website. Why? Because your website is your window to the world and it houses most aspects of the way you communicate your brand; your identity, your proposition (what you offer), what you look like, your philosophy and your values. Revisit every page of your website and ask yourself the following questions as you do so:
Take notes for every page to each of the above questions and you will find that you end up with a powerful list of things you need to work on, starting with the website. As you make changes to the visuals and your wording you will also find this naturally redefines who you are, as a brand, and that will then influence all other aspects of your business. Your website is your brand and your brand should drive how you operate as a business so see it as your bible – get that right, keep it right through these reviews and updates and then live by it.
I saw an excellent example recently of a business that was in a difficult situation turning it to their advantage. You probably will have heard of the brand “BrewDog”; a rebellious Scottish brewery that has had nothing short of astonishing growth and who now, after just 13 years in business, operates their bars, restaurants and hotels and has product listings in every supermarket. The impact of Covid has decimated their entire hospitality business and that they are largely surviving off their retail products. Their response to this has been nothing short of brave and inspired, the very two values they have built their whole empire on.
The owner of BrewDog drew on the fact it is the spirit of their brand that their customers bought into rather than the product itself and that is how they have been able to steal large slices of market share from brands that have been around 50, 100 years or more. They decided to open up a beer delivery service and, at the same time, to give every person in the country not only their beers for free but also the recipes for all their beers for free. They have given away all of their intellectual properties without blinking. Why such a crazy move? Well, what we can take from this is that they know people buy their brand and not their beer so it will never taste the same made at home. And they know their product is great so inviting people to try it for free, by registering online, means they will probably bond with the brand and buy more. It is far lower risk than it may seem and, thought costly to do, gives people something emotional to buy into – and this is exactly how they got to where they are today.
What can we all learn from these examples? That, in hard times, we have to be bold, creative, innovative and take a chance to win the hearts and minds of customers. We have to take stock, look at who we are and what we are doing and be a brand that does things which will set it apart and emotionally resonate with people. Brands that touch people’s emotions are brands that fly when everyone else is grounded.
If you need any advice or assistance with how you can evolve your brand to be better than your competitors, get in touch with us at TFA. We have helped many clients to see their brands and their businesses in a completely different way and to accomplish great new things they had never even considered before.
Written for, and featured in Pulse Magazine