Fast Company

The Hard-to-Swallow Truth About Branding

If Starbucks can lose its brand mojo, do you think your brand can remain immune to erosion? Plus, the 5 questions you must ask yourself right now.

Businesses too often do "what's worked." That's a good practice, as long as it continues to work. Unfortunately, companies often recognize much too late that "what we've always done" isn't working as it had in the past. This is generally accompanied by that "strong resistance to change" phenomena seen in larger corporations or bureaucratic businesses.

Losing That Buzzing Feeling
Look at Starbucks and you'll see this as a key factor to their business contraction. They caught on much too slowly to see the changing trends, needs, and desires of their customers. If it can happen to coffee powerhouse Starbucks, what makes us think we are immune?

And while smaller companies can be much more agile and fluid, they'll fall into this trap unless they are:

  • Keenly observant
  • Quick to evaluate and
  • Nimble enough to take action.

It goes something like this:
We've always made our product this way (or delivered it in this way). That works well for 2, 4, 5, or 10 years.

All of a sudden, it doesn't work. What happened? The needs, desires, trends, and "basic instincts" have changed. All of a sudden (or more commonly, slowly, under the radar, over a protracted period of time), customers need something different.

Now if their needs have changed (and your business model, its way of doing business, or the manner in which you deliver your product hasn't), you will be out of sync and unless you respond quickly, out of business.

The 5 questions you must ask yourself...now
When it was working, it was WORKING. If it isn't now, it is time for some RAPID (spelled F-A-S-T) assessment to figure how to become relevant again.

  • Is our brand meaningful?
  • Does our brand connect to our customer?
  • Has our brand lost its way with how life is today?
  • Has the competition muddied up the field?
  • Are your customers confused about what your brand stands for anymore?

Insanity isn't good for business, really
Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

With this outline, your business can become sane (and relevant and profitable) once more.

David Brier is an award-winning brand identity designer, author, and branding expert. His firm's work has won the admiration of peers and organizations but, more importantly, has helped clients jump-start their brands in new and innovative ways, even (and especially) when they've failed in previous brand makeovers. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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4 Comments

  • Stephen Byrne

    David, The Hard to Swallow Truth is that such slight articles as yours, regardless of their correctness or otherwise of your comments, can even get a run.

  • Jerry

    Starbucks has a very strong following with their social media channels so although their once un-stoppable brand has lost some positioning they remain strong and a brand to watch.

  • Brad Officer

    I'm hearing more chatter in the business owner circles of social media and branding. Seems many owners are no longer getting the results of past years and are now trying to figure out what has happened.