1. Your brand isn't as professional as competitors
If your brand was visually displayed alongside some of your key competitors – does it look as professional? As capable? Is it the best representation of you?
It might seem obvious, but sometimes we’re so focused on what we technically have to offer and doing what we do, we can forget that how we package and present that to the outside world matters.
And even if you once had a strong brand image – times change. Trends and styles change. You need to keep up with that, to not be written off as outdated.
As months and years go by, it can be hard to notice your brand becoming slowly less and less relevant. Ask yourself, if you had to give a company presentation in the morning to a potential new client – would you feel excited and proud to showcase your brand? Or, would you feel a little apologetic, like you need to explain and make excuses for certain gaps?
2. People don't get what we have to offer
Do people understand what your brand uniquely offers? Maybe you have the most highly skilled talent in the market, an incredible offering or a truly unique solution – but do people see that?
As Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, says “Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is”. And if people don’t know what you’re best at and what you have to offer, they how can you win and succeed?
The other challenge is that what we do and what we offer, evolves over time. Maybe you’ve expanded your service offering or changed the focus of your business in recent years. Has your branding kept up?
Or do people still have you pigeonholed as a small player with a limited offering? To shake old perceptions of your brand, you have to show and tell people that there’s something new worth taking a look at.
3. People just don't know we exist.
This brings us to an even bigger challenge. Beyond what you do, and what you uniquely offer – do your audience know you exist?
There can be many factors contributing to issues of low brand awareness including how much you’re investing in marketing and putting your brand in-front of the right people.
But it’s also a pretty big warning sign that there are challenges with your brand identity or your messaging full stop. And in our opinion, before trying to increase your awareness by heavily investing in marketing and promotion – you should first take a step back and make sure that what you’re placing in front of people is the best it can be. Read our helpful blog post on brand identity to learn more.
4. Just not winning business or trends
One of the most difficult things is to watch your competitors walk away with your business. To see them win tenders you’ve poured your heart and soul into – not to mind the resources and hours you’ll never get back – is incredibly disheartening.
There can be many reasons you don’t win new business. Your pricing could be off or your solutions may not be strong enough. And always, always, always – we’d suggest you ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask why and learn from the response.
But sometimes, there’s no particular thing – your competitors just performed better. They delivered a more ‘confident’ pitch. They are the right fit.
And this is your red flag that your brand just may not be as strong. Awarding a tender or winning new business is a huge leap of faith – you need to build instant trust. You also have a short window to communicate with absolute clarity why they should choose you.
If you’re not clear on your brand promise, what makes you unique and can’t convey that in a meaningful and engaging way with evaluators – you don’t have a chance.
5. Stuck and don't know how to grow.
Do you feel like you’re treading water? Or worse stuck in quicksand? Sometimes just staying still and not losing income or share can be an incredible challenge.
And no matter how hard you try to grow and take your business to the next level… like a boomerang you feel like you keep returning to the same point. You’re just not cracking it.
When you’ve a clear brand – a clear promise and vision for your business, it impacts on everything. It underpins and influences all business decisions and strategically lights up a pathway for growth.
If you step back and do the work to identify your brand’s ideal zone – the unique customer need it solves better than anyone else and you build your brand and promise from there, it will transform your growth.
You will be empowered with the knowledge of who you are targeting, why and with what. It can be transformational.
6. No consistency in your messaging.
Nobody trusts a chameleon. In today’s world with so much noise, consistency and authenticity are critical.
If you tell people five different conflicting things about you – it either won’t stick and they’ll have a confused perception of who you are. Or worse, they will hear and take it in and decide that you’re a fake, confused brand. A brand that will say anything to make a sale.
This has become increasingly challenging in the last few decades. While previously your messaging could be fairly controlled, with strong visual and verbal guidelines for all advertising – with social media it’s not that straight forward.
Channels and platforms will come and go, rise and fall in their relevance to your target audience. But one thing that won’t – each needs its own approach. How you communicate on Twitter, versus Facebook, versus Instagram should be slightly different, yet also reinforce the same story.
You can’t control and script everything. Your staff managing these accounts need to be able to quickly post relevant updates and respond to comments.
The only way it works is when you’ve absolute clarity on your brand. And everyone on the team understands your brand’s personality, inside and out. As if they were answering on behalf of a best friend – every person knows exactly who the brand is, what they like, what they’d say and how.
7. Top talent is going elsewhere.
And the last of our warning signs… are you having trouble attracting job applicants and new talent?
This is one that people often overlook as a branding challenge. But it can be as much of a warning sign as issues around the recruitment and retention of customers.
Does your brand communicate to prospective employees? Does it inspire them to be part of something bigger? Something meaningful?
Because in todays competitive marketplace, with full employment, it is your brand that can make all the difference. Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for more than a steady job – they are looking for a purpose and a sense of making a contribution to society.
So, ask yourself, would potential employees understand your vision and feel motivated by it? Have you created a brand and a workplace that people would feel proud to be a part of? Have you fostered a tribe?
That's all well and good but...
You may have read through this list and think that’s all well and good. It’s obvious. I need a re-brand or at the very least a brand refresh. Apart from one or two problems…
…. I’m not a marketing person and I don’t know what we should do next.
… I don’t have the time to dedicate to marketing & brand – or the budget to hire a resource.
… How do I persuade the CFO of the value of a rebrand and get a budget approved?
Don't worry, evolution can be painless.
The first thing is don’t panic. If you’ve identified that you’ve got a potential issue with your branding and it needs some TLC, that doesn’t mean you have to necessarily go changing your logo, recreating all your collateral or investing massive sums of money.
Start with a brand essence or refresh workshop. Approach a company like us for a quote and pull together a simple business case for internal stakeholders, like your CFO. The above seven points should enable you to pull together some clear challenges for your business. For example,
… Lack of clarity on messaging and what we stand for – mixed messaging online
… Not meeting sales targets and have lost 3 out of 4 of the last tenders to x, y, z
… Drop in applications for new positions, which is affecting x, y, z
And remember brand refreshes are about evolving, not reinventing, your brand.
It’s about stepping back and looking at where you are now, what works well and what doesn’t. We can then look at where you need to go and if the brand is fit for purpose to get you there.
Often, we’ve found, it’s about getting clarity on your brand promise – what you uniquely offer. And then decluttering your messaging so you can communicate that clearly, consistently and effectively. It’s about taking away, rather than lairing in more.