Change begets more change and oftentimes people in the middle (aka your team) are caught in no-man’s land wondering what is the new company story. Here are 10 events that trigger it’s time to review and rewrite your brand story.
1) You’re targeting new industries or audiences
Companies in growth mode often look to new industries or vertical markets to target. Having a solution for customer needs in those markets is important, but equally important is how a company communicates its brand story to break through the messaging din with a content mission that aligns with growth strategy and business imperatives. Complete Merchant Services (CMS) moved from Payment-as-a-Solution platform for the health care industry to the direct sales companies and then to franchisees.
2) Your business changes focus
Perhaps you’ve hired or acquired a team that fills a critical void. Maybe it even creates an additional profit center. With expanded offerings, your DNA changes. Sometimes this means a name change or sometimes it just means a fresh look at the solutions you’re bringing to the table. Case in point: Before the totally retro Chicago-based Build This entered the scene in 2018, it was strictly a web design firm. Then it adopted app development and, out of its trendy offices in the Chicago Board of Trade building, changed its focus – and its brand story. A fresh new website with technology imagery, an expanded offering including one-day websites, and a “We’re More Than An Agency” headline on the company’s about page was a successful brand story rewrite.
3) Merger or acquisition
This is a biggie. We have witnessed first-hand the impact a merger has on a company’s brand. It’s understandable that company executives focus on the financial and tax implications when entering an M&A. However, a common brand story has to be developed and then introduced to clients, prospects and, most importantly, the people who work there. Reston, Va.-based Hinge Marketing offers a downloadable rebranding kit. In addition to a new name and look, changes also occur in business practices and employee training.
4) Your business model changes to bring a fuller solution through strategic partnerships
Sometimes, it makes sense to form strategic partnerships to offer clients fuller solutions. Chicago-based Fortress Consulting, for example, pulls in marketing and creative experts as needed to show a more complete story. (Check out the new “life after pro football” branding project they did for Matt Forte. Cool stuff!). As your solution expands, so does your brand story.
5) The customer journey changes (does life ever stand still?)
How does your customer see you? How do you view your company and what it does? Is how your customer buys products or services in your market changing? Customer journeys shift and companies that can stay ahead of the wave will thrive. The ones that don’t rewrite their brand story – Blockbuster, Sears, Montgomery Ward, American Motors Corp. – often find themselves out of business or a target for an acquisition.
6) You choose to break away from companies in your industry and how business has “always been” done
Let’s say your industry is one based on price. It’s transactional, your product a commodity. But you don’t want to do business that way. You choose to step apart from the pack. We call this your unfair advantage, also known as your differentiator. When your company understands its unfair advantage, your story will set you apart from everyone else in your industry. It often is not what you think. Silver Spoon Desserts, for example, has an unfair advantage of employing single moms from Chicago’s distressed neighborhoods. Why? Because owner Tamara Turner was a single mom, and she understands women in that situation don’t need a handout, they need a paycheck. When customers hear her story, they become believers. What’s your unfair advantage?
7) The last time you reviewed your brand story was when “Frozen” was the highest-grossing film of the year.
That was 2013. Six years is a long time in business. Technologies change. The customer journey changes. Global markets change. How has your company changed? How has your brand story reflected that change? Is it frozen in time?
8) Digital transformation
This is the business buzz phrase, which really means the Internet of Things (IoT). From cloud-based computing to shopping online to software as a service (SasS). Digital transformation is designed to improve the customer experience, but it’s more than technology. Great piece in Harvard Business Review that talks about what needs to be done internally prior to and during implementation of digital platforms.
9) The dynamics of the industry have changed
Industry change is often a result of several of the points made above – digital transformation, the fluid customer-buying journey, new technologies, etc. Again, staying in front of the wave, through professional development, attending seminars, reading forward-thinking publications and listening to industry podcasts can help you stay aligned with industry trends. Ask: how is your brand story adapting to the shifting sands?
10) Your company’s vision goggles need replacement
If our vision in life stayed the same, there would be a lot more professional football players, fire personnel and professional singers in the world. These were my children’s visions when they were really little. Guess what? None of them are going into these fields. When a company’s vision – that altruistic destination that is not yet, but oh so desirable – changes, the brand story changes too. Because it’s not just about internal stakeholders. Your customers and other champions need to be part of your vision too.