The days of your business being able to stay stagnant are gone. The best entrepreneurs know that there is no such thing as a “set it and forget it” approach to running a successful company. You have to continue evolving in order to keep up with the times, and you have to be relentless to the point of almost being ruthless about doing so. This includes how you manage your brand.
Evolution of your brand, in line with your company values, will help ensure your foundation continues to be rock-solid. Your storytelling efforts should never die off, or one day, you’ll wake up and realize that your company has plateaued. You’ll be stuck in the same stagnant and shitty routine, with no new ideas on how to keep things fresh and a message that no longer resonates with your target market.
It’s always critical to root your company in your WHY. But some dynamics might change and how you go about engaging customers might require you to include better channels or focus on new audiences. Pivots to accommodate these will be much easier to incorporate. But ignoring the brand evolution process is like neglecting a toothache. Eventually, infection sets in and your tooth may need to be pulled. Similarly, your brand could end up outdated, out of touch with your audience and in need of an entire rebrand.
Why You’re Never Done Branding
When you buy a houseplant, you understand that certain responsibilities come with it. You take your new plant home and put it on your windowsill. If you walk away and ignore it entirely, you know you’ll soon have wilted leaves. A plant needs water, sunlight and the occasional trimming. Ignoring these responsibilities will kill the plant, leaving it impossible to revive.
Melissa’s Boutique: Melissa is full steam ahead with her business. She’s experiencing great responses from her “mom” targets, and the sales are rolling in steadily. Right now, because she’s knee-deep in running her business, she’s not overly concerned with her brand. She set up her company brand and initial brand messaging the right way. What Melissa doesn’t realize is that ignoring her brand metrics will cause her to overlook subtle shifts in her market. If she misses out on an opportunity to capitalize on what her customers really want, she’ll find her business falling behind.
Melissa’s brand requires much of the same kind of attention as the houseplant. Settling on her origin story and walking away is neglectful and can, in a sense, cause her brand to wither. To remain healthy and grow with her boutique, her brand needs continuous monitoring with metrics. She may need to add to her storytelling. She might even need to trim some of those “dying branches” or aspects of the brand that no longer resonate with her core audience.
This continuous adaptation of your brand, in small steps, as a direct response to trends, industry shifts and customer feedback; is often referred to as a brand evolution.
Rebranding vs. Brand Evolution
Think of a complete rebrand as a complete remodeling of your company image. The brand evolution is more like changing smaller characteristics to align your company image with your core values. Rebranding is an unfortunate scenario we see all too often with our clients. It can require drastic changes, including to the company name and logo. It is much more affordable to implement small changes from time to time rather than to start from scratch and rebrand altogether. Both of these methods can have lasting impacts on the success of your business. Only if they’re executed correctly and in conjunction with your vision will you see an increase in your brand equity and performance.
Branding Maintenance Strategies for Continuous Evolution
Look. You’re running a business. You don’t have time to babysit, and you need to focus on generating revenue. But keeping an eye on your brand doesn’t require a time-consuming strategy. A few extra steps in your operational management process can keep you from having a dire brand situation on your hands after it’s too late. Here are a few ideas to consider specifically when carving out your brand evolution strategy.
Know Your Ideal Customer Ongoing
Your customers are changing how they choose to engage, shop and buy all the time. And they’re not necessarily going to come out and tell you. You have to ask for feedback and monitor habits. If they lose touch with your brand, they’ll essentially lose interest in your offering.
Deliver on your WHY Promise
You might have discounts or sales to promote. Or you could be venturing into a new product or service segment. Those efforts should consistently be delivering on your WHY promise. If your actions don’t directly correlate with your brand mission, you’re not reinforcing your brand. And remember, anything you do that’s not deeply rooted in your vision will fall on deaf ears and become unsustainable.
Stake Your Strategic Positioning Claim
Don’t just choose a strategic position for your brand; plant a flag in it! If you’re looking to be an authority in your segment, every brand position you take should represent you as THE expert or the best at what you do. Whatever position you need your business to occupy, do it like you mean it and with every brand engagement.
Focus Efforts on The Experience With Your Brand
Too many business owners make the critical mistake by thinking that all they need to do is promote the company name and they are now branding. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Keep in mind, your brand strength comes from what customers experience – not just seeing your company logo on an item like mugs or pens. You need to create memorable moments for your clients, so their interactions with you leave them feeling better than before and that you are the first one they think about when it comes to needing your product or service.
Make Your Service or Product Easy to Buy
You can make your brand image stand out in all the right ways, but if it’s impossible to interact with you without jumping through a series of hoops, your customers will opt out for sure. Part of your brand strategy should include an eye for simplicity and convenience. Make what you have to offer attractive with your brand but also easy to purchase.
Your Story Changes, So Should Your Brand
In most stories, there is a final chapter and even a last page with the words “The End.” But in your business story, with you or your mission at the heart of the tale, the adventures only end when you decide to close your business. Until then, your journey continues and so does your brand story. Remember, business is an infinite game where experiences and positioning matter most for success.
Doug’s Dentistry: Doug’s core audience is adults who perhaps have neglected their dental health for years. These potential new patients represent a group of people who have anxiety about the dentist visit and ensuing discomfort and high costs associated with dental work. But Doug realizes that another dentist in his area is retiring, releasing a substantial group of children dental patients back into the market share pool. He knows he can provide the services those families need, too. But how can he shift his brand messaging to attract this new demographic?
Doug’s WHY goes back to his passion for being the “gentle dental” provider that eases patients into the chair and sees them to renewed dental health. He specializes in unique sedation techniques and has created an anxiety-free environment. He can continue to embrace this as he pivots to also include young patients. He can create new messaging that reinforces his “gentle dental” experience, speaking to the parents of kids who now need to find a new dentist.
Like Doug’s, your brand can evolve in new ways without abandoning your original purpose and vision.
- Seize new opportunities with your market segment.
- Be agile with your company offerings.
- Always look for a way to make an impact.
- Don’t be afraid to innovate in new directions.
If your brand identity is developed properly, it will serve as a foundation that can withstand a host of manageable changes. Build your brand well, and it will pivot with every new chapter of your story.
7 Signs It’s Time to Start a Brand Evolution
As your brand story continues to unfold, you’ll encounter instances that should stick out to you as a need for change. Here are a few big red flags indicating that it’s time for a brand evolution.
- Your business direction, composition or vision has changed.
- You’re changing your company name.
- You’re embarrassed by or feel disconnected from your brand collateral, website or brand image.
- You aren’t standing out from the competition enough.
- Your brand visuals and messages are confusing or inconsistent.
- You plan to make significant adjustments to your prices.
- You feel stuck and stagnant.
It’s imperative to stay true to your WHY, which is the reason we keep reiterating it throughout this month’s series of branding advice. If you’re experiencing challenges with evolving your brand, it may signify that you’re not authentically rooted in your WHY. If you need help with your brand evolution strategy, we can certainly help provide the clarity you need. A FREE consultation with the Awareness Branding & Consulting is just a click away.
Don’t waste another day not watering your plant. After all, if it dies, you’ll just have to start over with a new plant.