If we’ve learned anything from tidiness guru and Netflix sensation Marie Kondo, it’s that we must eliminate what doesn’t spark joy. Kondo’s concept applies to things in the home, like outdated or ill-fitting articles of clothing taking up space in your closet. But it can also apply to an organization’s branding.
While we wouldn’t recommend updating your branding on every whim, it is good practice to regularly revisit your brand strategy.
If your current branding is still aligned with your goals and resonates with your audience—hooray—your strategy is on target. However, if things seem off or your organization isn’t attracting the right clientele, it’s time for a deeper dive.
But before you start refreshing, let’s look at some common signs it’s time to re-evaluate and refresh your brand strategy.
#1 Your brand’s mission and vision seem off target.
Your brand’s mission helps to define what you hope to achieve and how you plan to achieve it. And your brand vision captures the fundamental ideas that drive your business toward those goals. However, it’s easy for your mission and vision to become outdated over time as your business pivots or expands based on market forces.
Take some time to think critically about your mission and vision. Do they still reflect your goals, plans and values? If not, it’s a clear sign that it may be time to rethink your mission and vision, so they better align with your brand’s current realities and aspirational goals.
#2 The branding doesn’t reflect the company culture.
Company culture flows in part from values set by leadership that dictate how your business operates. It is also a function of who you’ve hired and how those people interpret the brand every day. As a result, company culture is never static; it’s always evolving.
The culture of a small company with a few dozen employees will inevitably change as it scales. Ideally, company culture should radiate from your brand, or at least harmonize with it. If your team feels a widening disconnect between brand and culture, a brand refresh may be one way to get them back into sync.
#3 The branding doesn’t reflect what you offer.
Businesses evolve over time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of brick-and-mortar businesses shifted to e-commerce. and in some cases, they had to radically change their offerings. Others went through pivots and now offer different services than before. Take some time to evaluate whether your existing brand still accurately reflects the products and services you currently offer or if it might need some updating to account for the evolution of your business.
# 4 The brand strategy isn’t future-focused.
Where is your business heading? Is there an expansion on the horizon? Is there a new product on your roadmap? Is a merger or acquisition in the works? Take all of these into account as you evaluate the health and vitality of your brand. Do you have the tools in your brand kit to accommodate the growth you’ve planned? If not, it may be wise to proactively develop new brand attributes to account for future growth.
#5 Your brand doesn’t easily cross cultural and geographic limitations.
Brands are often deeply rooted in their native culture. but if your business aims to establish an international presence, then it must resonate across borders, cultures, and languages. Executives and brand managers should take time to consider the regions of operations and where they plan to expand. Ensure your brand translates clearly and expresses the same values. If it doesn’t, then an update may be to facilitate your global plans.
#6 The current branding isn’t aligned with consumers.
As consumer tastes and preferences change with time, it’s possible that the assumptions made in developing your brand may not hold true today. Consumers’ decision-making processes may change, and their content consumption habits constantly evolve as modern technologies emerge.
Audience research can be illuminating, revealing where a brand is connecting and what areas may require a refresh to make them once again resonate with consumers. Even the most iconic brands, like 135-year-old Coca-Cola, have required an occasional refresh to keep pace with changing consumer needs.
#7 Your business blends in with the competition.
No one wants their brand to be a follower, but it’s critically important to keep track of your competition. Competitive insights can reveal unexpected limitations or opportunities in your own brand. In highly competitive spaces, it’s important for brands to look for ways to differentiate themselves. Does your brand give you the tools necessary to stand out from your competitors? If not, a brand refresh can provide fresh opportunities to carve out a more unique niche.
#8 The strategy hasn’t adapted its selling model.
We’re living in a time of rapid and dramatic change across every industry. Whole categories are constantly disrupted by innovative technologies, and new platforms allow brands to reach consumers in new ways. Luxury brands, for example, have seen their sales shift from in-store purchases at flagship stores to influencer-driven online conversions.
As businesses adapt their selling and engagement models, their brand identities must be flexible enough to accommodate those changes. If your business is in a rapidly shifting category, it may be wise to embrace the disruption with a brand refresh that aligns more closely with the new reality.
#9 A gut-check is telling you something is off.
There are dozens of empirical signs that a brand refresh may be needed. You can check the pulse of your audience through research, survey competitors for new insights, read industry literature on the shifting technology landscape or review your growth roadmap.
But it still may come down to how the brand feels. Is your team proud of the brand? Do your clients feel proud to be associated with it? This, above anything else, is a litmus test for the durability of a brand. If you can’t comfortably answer “yes” on all counts, then it’s time to consider a brand refresh and you’ll find significant support for it among key stakeholders.
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