Is it You or Your Brand?

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Any relationship can fall into a rut. But when it comes to your brand, you need to keep a sense of perspective. A rebrand may not always be the right way to rescue your relationship. Another important dynamic is realizing—it isn’t just about you. What your customers think is just as vital as what you think or feel. So how can you begin to work things out? Start by asking yourself a few simple questions:

Are you giving your brand enough credit?

Before you pass judgment on how well your brand is performing in the marketplace—don’t assume that you know what your customers are thinking. Case in point: In 2009, the grocery store staple Tropicana rebranded with a more modern and clean design created to appeal to the growing “green” and “fresh food” trends. While this seemed like a logical decision, it was actually out of synch with what the core customer base wanted and expected. The new packaging was so different, may people didn’t recognize it and started thinking that the stores simply stopped carrying the brand.

The moral of the story: Give your brand credit where credit is due. Tropicana was performing well—and a change, simply for change’s sake—wasn’t really what was needed. Remember to respect the ways in which your brand already resonates with your audience—and try to avoid any drastic makeovers. Think about what already works, before you implement a fix that could alienate your customers. It’s like bad plastic surgery. People will stop and stare, but they really won’t relate.

How does your brand handle change?

Whether it’s a new line of products or a merger with another brand—it’s inevitable—change happens. But, is your brand able to respond or will it fall flat on its face? Again, you’ll need to ask yourself—and your customers—how does this change affect how the brand or brands are perceived? Are there new markets and expectations? Does your existing audience need to be convinced of the value of this change?

The 2005 Sprint Nextel merger shows what can happen when these questions are answered well. The choice to combine the brands, while still giving credence to the history of both, allowed this new megabrand to keep its position and maintain a progressive presence in a highly competitive marketplace. For instance, the new logomark pays homage to Sprint’s signature pin drop image while integrating Nextel’s distinctive yellow and black color palette. Now serving an estimated 49 million customers at the end of 2009, it sure sounds like Sprint Nextel made the right call.

Is your brand being overly impulsive?

Trends come and go. Looks, styles, and needs constantly change at a dizzying pace. While, thankfully, bell-bottoms have never made their predicted comeback—if you tried to keep up with every spur-of-the-moment trend—all you’d wind up with is a bad case of chronic fatigue syndrome and a closet filled with fashion disasters. The best thing to do is focus on the long-term factors that hit at the heart of relationship between your brand and your customers.

This is exactly what Nintendo did. They realized that their market was changing over time—and that it wasn’t always teenage boys who were interested in gaming. By paying attention and doing its research, Nintendo identified segments of customers who were being completely ignored—such as families looking for new ways to enjoy family game night. The answer: The Wii. A game-changer on many accounts—today you even have a good chance of finding seniors using a Nintendo Wii to host virtual bowling leagues.

Relationships are hard. But at Creative Squall, we’re here for you. We’ll counsel you on the issues and provide solutions that will help get your relationship with your brand and your customers back on track. No role-playing or pugil sticks—just good, old-fashioned brand communication.

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