How to Rejuvenate a Troubled B2B Brand
Two months ago, I wrote an article titled The Economic Value of Your Company Brand. The theme of the post: No matter the size and scope of your company, the brand position you hold with your prospects and customers has monetary value in terms of sales, stock prices and even employee retention. One of the points I made in the article is that you are sometimes better off if you are starting off with a clean branding slate. The downside is that few people know about you – the upside is that you can start with a fresh and differentiated brand position.
There are two major types of branding rejuvenation projects we can talk about (and several sub-types). The first major category is where you change the name and everything else. Category two is where you keep the name but change all the messaging. My suggestions will work for both types of B2B brand rejuvenation, but category one is more difficult, of course.
Interestingly, according to the intensive Millard Brown BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands Study, 20 B2B brands make the list of the 100 most valuable brands. Several of the most valuable, including IBM, Exxon Mobil, BP, JP Morgan, and Microsoft, have had to go through their own brand rejuvenation program.
Whether you are representing one of the giant companies or your own small firm, the following eight-part formula will get you on the right branding path.
- Take a brutally honest assessment of your current state. Why exactly are you thinking of upgrading your brand and what do you hope to accomplish? Are you doing it for less than stellar reasons: e.g. you are personally tired of your brand, or can you show how the company will benefit economically from the time-consuming and expensive rebranding exercise?
- Decide where you want to be in five years. This is an important question because the best brands have a timeless quality. What sounds good today may not work well in five years, so encapsulate a future perspective on what customers will buy today as well as into the future.
- Validate the congruence and market readiness for the new brand position. This is a step where you may benefit from outside help. Make sure what you are proposing resonates with both the target audience and online searchers. Yes, you want to validate your new brand with the Google search algorithm. More about this in a future post.
- Create a strategic messaging platform that consists of a brand promise, value proposition, About the Company statement, and key messaging statements. Make sure this messaging shows you as being unique, remarkable, and most important, extremely beneficial.
- Gain agreement from all stakeholders. Let everyone, especially your existing customers, know exactly why you are updating the brand and what it will mean to them.
- Launch the new brand position with a new website, new content, new look and feel, and new panache.
- Be relentless and persistent in promoting your B2B brand. And if you have changed the company or product name — other than the fact you want to redirect anyone looking for the old brand name to the new content — it is best to banish the old naming and messaging from your vocabulary. Don’t have one foot on the old brand and the other on the new.
- Live the brand position. Your brand is about much more than what you say in your promotional messaging. Whatever you are telling the world that you are, make sure it is congruent with how you operate in every part of your company.
The importance of creating a brand that is congruent with who you are and what you do as a company is reflected in a great quote from Starbucks founder Howard Schultz from Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time: “In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.”
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