After 30 years of brand strategy research, one thing is obvious: companies often take too long to revisit their positioning.
When they finally include this revision in their annual goals, it is often because their business environment has changed, or is going to change. No matter the cause, whether actual or anticipated, the exercise is intense, because it has been pushed back year after year. The gap between the company and its market has had time to grow wider.
The 8 business environments for re-examining your brand strategy fall into two categories, depending on the type of cause.
Here are the main environments for negative, or reactive causes:
- stagnation / decrease in sales and market shares;
- the arrival of a serious competitor (due to its technology or business volume);
- the loss of a major client and subsequent search for new ones;
- the fact that your organization has become the epitome of a boring company.
Positive / proactive causes are also conducive to change:
- a new service offer or innovative product;
- a significant change in technology;
- the acquisition of another company that broadens your range of services or your territory;
- the arrival of a new senior officer or group of employees who will change the way you do business and increase your market impact.
These two categories take different approaches, but both have a great deal at stake: the company’s future, and even its ability to stay afloat.
The reactionary approach to change arises from a delayed awareness by managers, who are victims of their own reticence to innovate: “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?”
The positive approach is generally adopted in a spirit of growth, by a team that wants to keep things moving, and with the courage to develop the means to succeed. On this subject, don’t forget that most companies have the means to change, because it just involves allotting time and money, once the positioning expert has been selected.
Put your money where your mouth is
Our observations are very consistent when we work with companies on their brand image in the positioning process: there is always a disparity between a company’s discourse and its reality, between what it wants to be and its clients’ actual experience.
For example, websites often reflect this company-client disparity, for a very simple reason: most companies still allocate a non-recurring budget to their digital ecosystem. It therefore grows older little by little, as clients integrate mobile technologies and dynamic content into their way of life. The website does not adjust to different screens, some links are broken, the content is not updated, requests are processed late, etc.
Since the impact is not directly monetary, the Web does not get priority. However, future company growth necessarily depends on the digital world, as can be seen by the recent sale of RONA to Lowe’s, which is much more advanced technologically. Not investing in a site because the number of visits is disappointing is like not changing cars because the one you have is slow: it’s nonsensical, and a great way to get nowhere.
Working on your employer brand
The same companies that neglect their brand image publish job postings that target dynamic, innovative, proactive applicants who like a fast-paced environment. But the managers of these organizations are quite all right with the fact that their image is outdated.
While just beginning to gain traction, the concept of the “employer brand” has not yet been applied by many SMEs. When they have trouble hiring high-performing and motivated employees, they blame the recruiters or candidates. However, the moment a new competitor appears with a strong positioning and appealing brand image, the urgency to act will resurface.
Don’t wait to transform your business until your growth is threatened: when a company goes into survival mode, it is no longer in a strong enough position to reinvent itself. Work on your positioning now to make sure your company stays relevant in its market in the long term.