Even the hippest, most forward-looking companies face the specter of brand obsolescence eventually: generational attitudes evolve, social conventions change and new technology arrives to make everything seem instantly outdated.
So how is a brand supposed to protect its image in the face of such difficult odds?
Innovation, vigilance and a propensity for forward movement are the cornerstones of any brand strategy designed to prosper in the face of potential irrelevance. Change is inevitable, and it’s in seeing how the strongest brands respond to change that you can discover what your own organization needs to master in order to thrive decade after decade.
Stay Proactive in Refining Your Brand Strategy
If your brand image has fallen into irrelevance after years of neglect and a lack of innovation, it might already be too difficult to do a complete overhaul. This is why it’s so important to be almost obsessively proactive when it comes to maintaining and honing your brand strategy.
After all, it’s much easier to nudge your image in a different direction by introducing targeted, incremental changes than it is to attempt a wholesale brand rehabilitation. Take action when you see the first signs that elements of your strategy aren’t connecting with your intended audience. Ideally, this will be before this gap has a tangible impact on ROI. Remember, the best defense is a strong offense.
Bridge the Generational Gap Through Technology
You may not even understand yet what it is that’s causing the disconnect, so you need to intricately comb through your digital marketing strategy and devise innovative solutions that can right the ship.
Connected devices and social media drive millennials whose attention you crave, so you’ll need to become comfortable with using innovative technology to relate to them. But it’s not just about employing technology for technology’s sake. Millennials hunger for engagement from the brands they respect, and technological solutions need to be used in service of this goal. Otherwise, you’ll be committing the cardinal sin of inauthenticity, from which you may find it difficult to recover.
Scrutinize Every Resource to Find Innovative Ways to Differentiate Your Brand
As the tools and technology necessary for maintaining brand relevance have proliferated, so, too, have the options and resources available to brand stewards like yourself. Unless your company is at the very peak of the innovation pyramid, there will always be companies that are a little farther along in the game than you.
Why not learn from them? Why not apply what you see in your own business?
Numerous branding and PR experts are more than willing to share their innovative solutions online, and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with as many of the knowledge centers as possible to spark brainstorming efforts and guide your way. You can also attend events such as the Brand Strategy Innovation Summit, where industry leaders share best practices and divulge innovative strategies.
Discard Outdated Tools Before They Can Do Lasting Damage
At Mitchell, we instill in our clients that brand engagement is a constantly changing process and that differentiating yourself means having the courage to shake things up.
Far too many complacent organizations keep the same sets of tools in place long past their natural expiration dates, even if they’ve already stopped using them in any significant way. People inevitably fall into the trap of doing something out of sheer habit, and they often don’t even stop to think about it.
It may seem on the surface like there’s not much harm in this, especially if these efforts are relatively inexpensive. But going beyond cost considerations, this can be detrimental to your brand. If you’re trying to court tech-savvy audiences, they’ll be unlikely to connect with your brand if they know you are using outdated tools.
Sometimes less is more, and shedding the old to sharpen the new will result in a stronger core brand personality that others will look to as an example of innovation. How are you innovating to keep your brand relevant?
Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations and consumer engagement.
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