Why should you update your brand’s strategy?
If you’re asking yourself this question you should probably consider the potential branding challenges that your existing organization or business could be facing.
Have you run into the challenge that your brand is too similarly named or looking to similar to other companies in your space that you need to differentiate your brand from?
Unfortunately, there are many copy-cats that would like to piggyback on your organization’s successes. Mars Bar candy packaging, Airbnb.com, Coca-Cola, 5-Hour Energy all are brands that are well known and yet knock-off brands attempt to take their market share as much as is legally permissible. Sometimes trendy design strategies will backfire for you due to this, in the case of Coca-Cola Life, the green trend was easily mimicked by Fors Cola. Outside of legal options, you can improve upon your original brandmark’s design and brand messaging to be trademarked and more distinct and defendable from IP infringement, and sometimes the best case is to defend your IP with good legal representation.
Is your brand messaging reaching your audience? Is that audience shrinking in size over time?
As brand’s age overtime, some age worse than others simply put. Some have outside factors that cause brand crises, as is the case with the Weinstein Company, or the PR challenge’s that damage a brand’s equity such as the NFL has faced this season ( the NFL’s viewership is down 19% since 2015 ). In addition to brand crises, any brand whether it be a classic mark or ultra modern one will need to update their mark to communicate their brand’s message to potential new audiences that would embrace their service/product offerings. Whether your Coca-Cola, a Non-profit, Netflix, a start-up, or a restaurant around the corner things age and new audiences are always potentially out there that haven’t been reached. You might need to update your brand messaging strategy along with your brand mark to have a maximum impact on reaching new audiences as well.
Is your brand’s messaging system not working? Is it not communicating as well over time, or was your brand’s strategy not developed properly, to begin with?
Branding an organization especially a new one can be challenging especially when a young start-up hasn’t matured and reached its full potential. Sometimes after a brand strategy has been crafted, that brand becomes something different than originally intended and there is a disconnect between the services offered or the audience it actually wanted to connect with versus the one they started out to reach. And because of that, a brand’s messaging system could have been crafted from the get-go for another audience than the one you hoped to reach. A lot of start-ups have this difficulty when they craft their initial brand identity to catch the eyes of investors rather than a future target audience based upon real-world personas (mainly because the start-up might not have finished their future product that will define their future brand). The simplest solution for this is to review your existing brand’s marketing strategy, define it’s current messaging in a brand audit and find out as much as possible about its actual audience, as well as what peer brands are doing within their market.
Have your products or service offerings changed since the organization was last rebranded?
This is a typical challenge, businesses and service providers change their offerings to match their audiences needs all of the time. Whether your Polaroid creating digital cameras or McDonald’s creating healthier products and changing its entire experience into the Mc Cafe. And on not such a large scale restaurants in general whom have been in business for over 10 years ultimately must update their brand’s presence on a regular basis or they risk becoming outdated and stagnant. Customers today are our toughest critics, just ask how your customers feel about your branding and they’ll more than happily tell you if you are off the mark.
That doesn’t look like the Golden Arches I grew up with.
Is your brandmark poorly executed: Or was it simply not on brand with your companies goals and objectives?
Many brand identities are poorly executed, and often I find myself asking does your brand have a set of guidelines more often than not the answer is no. What happens when your brand is inconsistent, well it’s no different than showing up for work wearing business attire in Ugg boots. Inconsistency looks sloppy, and won’t help your brand be remembered. The most important thing to stand out from the pack is to have a branding system that works for all of its required usages in a consistent manner.
Did you fall into the trap of developing a branding system that’s intellectual property was too close to another existing brand?
IF you have a branding system that was a copied brand mark from a competitor or something found that wasn’t your intellectual property to begin this is a serious concern that needs to be addressed immediately as you risk opening yourself up for legal action. Additionally, you run the risk of this happening if you purchase a “logo” from a web competition. This happens because you might be paying for a brand identity that may have been copied from another artist’s works. You might not even know after you run the trademarking process, sometimes people put up works of art on Pinterest and Behance that other intellectual property hacks will steal just to make a quick buck. You pay for what you get when it comes to branding, and as an agency our reputation is paramount to our continued success, it’s not the same when it comes to online competitions.
An example of this happening recently resulted in a major court case that was won by Under Armour versus Uncle Martian, a Chinese knock-off brand.
Find out more about this cour case here.
Has your brand’s messaging system, or brand applications* been updated whilst leaving other brand applications or the brand mark itself behind?
Sometimes organizations look to save on the branding process by updating their website, or store-front, packaging design, or marketing materials without changing all of their brand applications to the same consistent look and feel. And they may also do that with an older brandmark or brand strategy, that hasn’t been updated to a newer messaging system. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it shows the flaws and inconsistencies of the brand itself. Today more than ever customers can find your brand’s flaws, and we suggest to update your brand applications in coordination with updating your brandmark and messaging systems throughout all of your brand’s applications.
* Brand Applications are websites, packaging designs, collateral, print items, signage, presentation decks, anything that a brand mark is applied too.
Have you trademarked or copyrighted your Brand Mark/Logo/Brand Identity?
Any brandmark can be easily trademarked through many different legal options. But when going through this process it’s important to make sure you own the root domain name for the .com address for the brand name, this is not definitive but it will help tremendously when protecting your IP. If however, you purchase a name that is following another brand mark’s IP you could risk losing your property**. Don’t take the risk, make sure your name is original and able to be trademarked.
** SONY.com is the intellectual property of Sony Corporation if you named your company SonyCars.com you’d likely lose that domain and be forced to rename your business.
Do you need to alter your Brand Mark’s Name to Trademark it?
Sometimes a brand’s name itself has to alter to become trademarked and protected for all future content. A famous case of this was the Science Fiction channel or Sci-fi channel, that was forced to rename itself into the SyFy channel in order to protect its own intellectual property and messaging. These are drastic moves for organizations but sometimes their absolutely necessary but if you are seriously considering renaming your organization we will be planning a future article about what steps to follow when naming or renaming your future brand.