Monday, April 29, 2019

Insights from 20 Years as a Brand Consultant

Over the past 20 years, I have been retained by more than 200 organizations to help them with their brand problems. I thought it would be interesting to share with you what I believe to be the root causes of some of these problems. Here are the types of problems that I have encountered (that I can remember).

  • The brand has been resting on its laurels and the rest of the industry has not only caught up but surpassed the brand in product and service innovation.
  • The organization has grown through many mergers and acquisitions. Its brand architecture is overly complicated and redundant. To reduce costs and create greater customer clarity, it needs to significantly rationalize its brands and its product offerings. 
  • Recent business acquisitions have made it impossible to use the previous brand positioning. The positioning needs to change to reflect the new breadth of offerings. 
  • The acquiring company makes a big mistake with the acquired brand because it does not understand the target market's needs or the acquired brand's essence. 
  • The product and service are excellent and the price is right but there is little to no awareness of the brand.
  • The start-up has not thought through who its most advantageous customers are or how to best reach them.
  • The organization's leader has an authoritarian style that does not allow for distributed leadership or decision-making. This is stifling the organization and the brand.
  • The brand had a recent customer crisis from which it is still recovering. 
  • The organization is significantly underinvesting in its brand. 
  • A smaller local brand is now competing directly with a huge regional, national or global brand.
  • The organization is clueless about its brand messaging. The messaging is disjointed and ineffective.
  • The organization's distribution strategy is wrong for the brand's positioning. It is working against the brand.
  • The organization's pricing strategy is a mess. It is causing channel conflict problems and customer perception problems.
  • Customer interfacing systems have glitches resulting in sub-par or even horrific customer experiences. 
  • VC has taken the brand over and is making short term decisions to the detriment of the long-term viability of the brand.
  • The brand's logo makes the brand look very dated. 
  • New marketers have been hired and they know little to nothing about brand strategy or research. They are smart enough to know that they need to hire this expertise. 
  • The brand has historically been positioned based on functional features and benefits. The brand's leadership team wants to change the brand positioning to include emotional benefits and shared values. 
  • The brand's business model no longer works. The organization cannot not make its revenue and profit targets if it continues to use the same old model. 
  • The company wants to grow its business through brand extensions. But they need help in understanding the best avenues for extending the brand.
  • A new CEO or CMO has arrived and wants to make his or her mark on the company and the brand.
  • A new leader has arrived and is significantly changing the organization's strategy. Because of this, the brand's positioning needs to change. 
  • The brand manager is seeking the limelight and a promotion. He or she hires a consultant to initiate a project to take the brand to the next level. 
  • Management wants to refresh the brand before a new capital campaign (not-for-profit organizations) or the launch of new products under the brand's umbrella. 
  • An academic institution or one of its divisions is up for review and reaccreditation and needs to revisit its brand's mission, vision, values and messaging as a part of that process. 
  • The organization wants to set up a brand scorecard or dashboard and wants to determine the best measures to include. 
  • The organization wants to better segment its market. It is looking to outside help to conduct a comprehensive segmentation study.
  • The organization wants to measure its brand's equity on a regular basis to better manage its brand.
  • A brand needs to be fortified before the organization pulls the trigger on a new distribution strategy.
  • The marketer wants to take the brand out to new markets but doesn't want to make a mistake in doing so. 
  • The organization wants to take the brand upmarket or downmarket and again wants to minimize the risk of doing so. 
  • The brand's package design is too complicated and it is not helping the brand at point of sale. They need the package to be redesigned. 
  • Retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have backed the product brand into a corner out of which they seem not to be able to escape because of the retailer's extreme leverage. The product brand needs a strategy for dealing with this more effectively.
  • Believe it or not, sometimes I am hired because a marketer has always wanted to work with me. This has happened more than once but I make sure there is a real problem to be solved before I say yes.

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