Brand Future Re-invented
In today’s world lots of new products and services are launched on a daily basis, a study by Harvard Business School claims nearly 30,000 new products are launched each year. Never has the startup market been this competitive.
While some brands continue to grow, sometimes the end of the journey is quick. 50% of startups fail in the first 5 years and 70% in the first 10 years according to a Harvard Business School study by Shikhar Ghosh.
Consistent Reinvention is Key
Some brands grow but then need to reinvent themselves for the next chapter to focus on long -term growth. It is important to constantly revaluate what your brand stands for and how it is growing. Focussing on the future of the brand is key. Developing a clear vision and path on how to get there is very important.
At times this will mean to adjust and grow up. These are painful learnings for brands such a Polaroid and Kodak who failed to evaluate consumer behaviour and changing habits as digital trends were on the rise.
Listen to your consumer
As a consumer brand it is key to listen to your audience all the time. That could be either through wider studies or through more focussed conversations. Testing a product before launch is important and should be part of a solid launch strategy – a soft launch to a wider market will generate more in-depth feedback to build on and identify core areas to develop.
Once a brand is launched and listed in its first shops it is key not to stop listening. This can also be done via its social channels – always encouraging and be open to user feedback.
Listen to the market, the trends, your competition as well as detailed consumer feedback. It is important to understand why certain things will be working and certain activities not.
In 2008 for instance Starbucks was in a dire state – their sales were down as the brand had grown too quickly leaving the customer out of sight and also the focus on the quality of its core product – the coffee. A major repositioning campaign on the quality of its core products and the wider experience helped the brand recover. Again, it was key to focus on the feedback of their consumers as well as their rising competition.
Another example of a company that stopped listening to its key audience is Lego. In the late 90s it followed the strategy to extend the brand and launched lots of new innovative figures and pieces. What happened? While the company seemed, innovative sales dropped drastically.
What did they fail to do – listen to their target audience: Kids.
Wants they started listening they figured out that kids didn’t want to play with pre-built toys and cool figures – the key for Lego was to build something and to be creative with their bricks. A new focus was created to launch lines around Imaginative play and guess what – sales were up again.
How drastic the changes in direction need to be depend on the establishment of the brand during the first 5 years a company is mainly focussed to build its brand equity – during this time major readjustments can take place including name changes and major rebranding campaigns. Afterwards careful consideration needs to be given to major reinventions – it is important to analyse the key equities of a brand to focus on to then develop and strengthen it going forward.
Google for instance used to be called BackRub but this was changed pretty quickly once the brand started to outgrow the Stanford campus sphere.
Be clear and stay true to your core idea
Another point to focus on is the core idea of your brand – your wider story the reason of being – your Purpose. Brands that innovate and grow around their core idea are more successful in extending their range. A simple core brand idea is centred less around the brand products or services it is the wider believe that the company stands for which links all activities and communication of the brand experience.
A great example is the launch of all new little nice and startup brands that usually come to reinvent a category to be more authentic – Jessica Alba has done this successfully on a larger scale with the Honest Company – all her products are focussed on natural ingredients without chemical nasties – by being this authentic she has taken on established player such as P&G, Unilever et al.
They key lesson is to never stop – never stop listening to your key audience and wider market developments. Understand what your brand and product stand for through your simple core brand idea and adjust your brand experience if needed.