Let it go – 10 signs your brand isn’t working for you

A strong brand encapsulates what you stand for, it's how you look, how you sound and it sets you apart. But after time your brand might not be working or be as effective as it used to.

Businesses change, markets change and so does the competition, and all of these influence how your business is perceived. To stay relevant a brand must evolve. Some of the most successful brands in the world are continuously evolving, repositioning and reinventing themselves.

branding - knowing when to let it go

If it’s been a while since you last performed a brand audit, here are some things that might suggest it’s time for an update:

1. A dated visual identity

Your brand is the way your business is perceived by those who experience it and your visual identity is a huge part of that. Perhaps your brand identity is simply tired and outdated; colours fonts and icons can all leave a brand looking stuck in the past.

Solution: You need a brand identity that represents your business offering today, not when you started. An identity must be relevant and credible, and credible means current. Make sure your brand identity is fit for the future, by researching into what your audiences want from you now.

2. Lack of brand distinction

There has to be a reason for consumers to choose your brand over a competitor’s. If your brand is too similar it will fail to stand out. A strong brand is distinctive, ownable and memorable.

Solution: Competitor and consumer research is invaluable to understand trends and market expectations. Don’t be different for different’s sake, but aim for a brand that says something honest about your offering.

Brand quote Donatella Versace

3. Inconsistency

There should be brand synergy across your business. A stable brand that retains recognition over time is usually viewed as being more authoritative in the marketplace, whereas visual inconsistency and mixed messages leave consumers confused, and badly affect recognition and engagement. It may be that you now have several sub-brands that are causing confusion, if so you may need to revisit how you communicate the relationships of these areas of the business.

Solution: Make your brand memorable, by ensuring your visual brand and brand promise appear consistently to your audience on all marketing channels. Consider whether you need a family of brands, or whether a single customer facing brand would serve you better.

Brand quote David Brier

4. Poor brand equity

Brand equity rests on how your consumers perceive you. Brand equity can be damaged by poor brand recognition, or a poor reputation; by previous mishaps or failings, poor product or service performance (KPIs) and bad reviews.

Solution: It may be time for a culture or strategy shake up, identify sticky points in your brand offering and fix them – a rebrand or brand evolution may also help show the outside world you’ve changed and are listening to them.

Brand quote Jeff Bezos

5. Your product or service offering has changed

As your business evolves, your brand should develop with it. Ask yourself where the business is heading? What are your goals? Has your mission or the essence of your brand changed? Your brand strategy may have changed due to technological, political, social or economic factors. Understanding why change has happened will help you align your brand with your strategy.

Solution: If your existing brand offering and purpose don’t reflect the current business strategy, new products, services or market positioning, it’s time for an update.

Brand quote Winston Churchill

6. Low conversion rates

If your business seems to be stagnating, or you’re starting to notice poor returns on your marketing investments, it could be that you’re attracting the wrong customers, or targeting audiences that you’re failing to convert.

Solution: Targeting everyone can sometimes mean ultimately mattering to no one. Review who your ideal customer is. Focus on smaller, specific groups who are most likely to connect with your brand. Perhaps the audience you’re targeting has changed over time, have their habits or preferences changed? Remember customer retention is just as valuable and sometimes more profitable than chasing and converting new customers.

7. Employees or consumers aren’t clear what the brand stands for

Being too general or not specific about your expertise can lead to people being unsure of your purpose.

Solution: Be clear about your company goals and ethics and improve company culture and communications to inject fresh optimism, inspire loyalty and maybe even make brand ambassadors of your people and your customers. Have a clear, genuine purpose. But make sure it’s authentic and one you and your people truly believe in.

Brand quote Richard Branson

8. Brand wasn’t designed to be digital

Today, every touchpoint matters, but none more so than online. People interact with brands via their smartphones and laptops so a brand has to work digitally and at small scale.

Solution: Brands conceived before the smart revolution may well be ready for a revamp. Think digital first – not just from a technical perspective. Using RGB colours, simple iconography and type that’s legible at smaller sizes. But also consider the online browsing behaviour of your consumers. For example, developing bite-sized copy and using content that’s engaging and digestible in formats such as film and animation.

Brand quote David Ogilvy

9. You’re no longer speaking your consumer’s language

Perhaps your audience has moved on, or changed in some way. Research, research, research to identify what’s driving changes within your audiences and what is it that now resonates with them on an emotional level.

Solution: Tweak your tone of voice to suit the audience, be clear and concise, and prove your relevance in ways and through channels you know they will engage with. Use peer-to-peer reviews and testimonials supported with statistics and infographics to bring your story to life.

10. The target audience has changed

Those businesses making more strategic decisions like moving into new markets or targeting new audiences should consider larger-scale branding changes.

Solution: Any brand shifts must focus on realigning your brand to these new customers, without neglecting or alienating existing audiences. Does your brand work for multiple audiences and across multiple channels? Remember to consider brand flexibility at the development stage for a more cohesive brand.

Brand quote Seth Godwin

If you’ve found that your brand assets are no longer aligning with your business strategy or consumer expectations, maybe it’s time to let them go. Whether that means your brand needs a refresh or a complete overhaul, we can help ensure it’s fit for the future.