Brand health: How to heal a sick brand
Has your brand lost its way? Has it lost its market share? Has it maybe even lost its soul?
For once-mighty brands that are slowly losing their grip, there are often more questions than answers.
- Has our brand changed, or have our buyers?
- Is our offering outdated?
- Is our brand promise not connecting with the upcoming generation?
- Has our advertising gone stale?
- Is this a product problem or an image problem? Or both?
Shrinking brands often find that they are suffering from one of these market problems:
- The brand has expanded into too many markets and has lost its essence
- The brand has become stale and no longer creates excitement with customers or employees
- The brand’s health has been ignored for too long and is showing signs of fatigue
- The brand is mired in the past, and hasn’t evolved with new buyers
- The brand’s focus has become too narrow and doesn’t have sufficient channel distribution
- The brand is playing in a dying market
- The brand has been reduced to a commodity
Brands that need a turnaround should start with a game plan.
The brand turnaround game plan
Diagnose the problems
A brand can lose its way for many reasons, but it’s not always immediately obvious that it’s happening. Like the slow onset of a strengthening flu, it’s common that a brand will little-by-little begin to show symptoms of decline here and there without a sudden drop off.
A modest shrinkage of market share. Some anecdotal comments from buyers about considering a switch. Less loyalty among buyers. Competitors feel a little bolder and begin to score wins more often. The media doesn’t seem quite so interested in you as it used to.
Many business managers won’t pick up on the problem until something sets off an alarm, and then suddenly the entire business is thrown into a panic. This is often the most dangerous time for a brand because executives and marketers are the most likely to take knee-jerk actions, make rushed decisions, and overreact to the problem in distress. Everybody will have an opinion of what to do, but that’s also part of the problem. You don’t need opinions, you need data.
Quantitative and qualitative data you need to diagnose a brand:
- Do customers believe your brand has stayed true to its original values?
- If so, are those values still in harmony with values of customers?
- Has your brand’s messaging and value prop become less desirable?
- Is your brand’s positioning less compelling than those of competitors?
- Are your products still solving pain points and delivering enough value?
- Is your brand consistent in its marketing, customer experience and product value?
Set turnaround goals and execute
Once you have diagnosed the root of your brand’s atrophy, the next step is to lay out and work towards turnaround goals for the short term (6-12 months) and the long term (13-36 months).
These goals may include:
- NPS improvements
- Pre and post-campaign performance standards
- Market share growth
- Brand funnel improvements
- Product quality standards
- Customer experience goals
- Employee engagement objectives
Measure your turnaround progress
You can only know that your brand is back on track when your instrumentation tell you so. Without instrumentation, you can’t determine if all your efforts are paying off.
Here are the key tools and methods for measuring your brand turnaround:
- Brand Tracking: Track your brand funnel and how well you move the market from brand awareness to advocacy
- Ad Concept Testing: Measure the strength of your ad concepts before you spend budget and time on them
- Engagement Metrics: Social media, offer responses, downloads, video views and sales conversion are all able to inform your level of brand fitness
- Employee Brand Advocacy: Understand how motivated and prepared your employees are to deliver the experiences that live up to your brand promise
- Customer Insights: Conduct research that reveals hidden customer insights only you know about
- Brand Position Testing: Optimize your brand positioning by measuring the reaction to different value proposition candidates
- Campaign Tracking: Measure the pre and post-campaign effect that advertising has on your brand
- Message Targeting: Understand how well your messaging is resonating with different consumer segments
- X+O Integration: Understand how your brand and business KPIs interact and affect each other
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