This week’s question takes us from brand revolution to evolution.
A week ago, I was part of a panel discussion for some executive MBA students and among the great questions they asked was the following one:
You talked about not rebranding but evolving a brand, how do you do that?
I believe that brands should always be evolving, just like the environments in which they exist. And it’s a piece of advice that often causes people to ask questions very much like the one above.
No environment that an organisation operates in is ever still. As the saying goes, the only constant is change: new competitors come along; old competitors leave; government policies change; technology enters and shakes things up; new products and services arrive; the economy shifts; outsourcing comes into play – and that’s just a short list of things that are constantly on the move.
And yet, despite all that change, too often the brand is the last man when organisations think about how to adapt and respond. Or worse, it is left out completely.
There is a model I’ve used for years to help organisations think more dynamically about their brands. I shared it with the students in answer to their question, because, while evolutionary change is a must if you want to stay relevant, not everything changes.
The foundation of the brand (and the promises you make and keep) is found in three interconnected circles. Your purpose, that enduring reason why you exist. Your values, those non-negotiable beliefs that you won’t ever trade – both of which I’ve written about many times. So today I’m going to spend time on the third circle: your positioning, meaning how you connect to your marketplace and environment.
While purpose and values are stable, core guides, positioning is always cycling through. Looking outwards, gathering what’s going on and then bringing it back to be checked against purpose and values.
This needs to be a regular thing. Are our products and services still relevant to our customers? Is there a new technology or trend on the horizon that will undermine what we do? Does our message still resonate with our customers? Have our customer demographics changed? Cycle around. Back through purpose and values. Rinse and repeat.
It’s much harder than it sounds. The temptation to modify purpose and values to fit any changes is hard to resist. Good to Great author Jim Collins sums it up when he says that you have to “preserve the core AND stimulate progress” at the same time. Not one in favour of the other. A bit like yin and yang. They are two parts of the same action.
If you get into the habit of practising this, then the whole rebranding thing will soon feel like a bad idea from a distant past. Living the brand is about more than just keeping your promises and walking the talk. It’s also about keeping the brand alive by always staying connected to the things that might shape it and you.
Long live brand evolution!
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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected].
See you next week with (your question here).
Michel is an Independent Brand Analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.