Updated: Sep 13
Smart choices & actions your brand can make today that work with any budget.
Let’s debunk the myth that building an effective brand comes with a large price tag and can take time and effort away from core operations.
A Clear Brand Strategy Saves Time & Money
The value of branding may not be clear right away, especially if you are a small business focused on development and customer acquisition. But as we shared in our blog, “Is Your Brand Holding Your Business Back?” not focusing on your brand can actually dilute business potential. We’ve seen how unclear strategies lead to confusion, draining resources. Creating an effective brand strategy and distinct creative expression can happen without having to break the bank.
Understand the Pain Points- A Tale of Two Brands
What about your brand does not translate the way it should to your customer? Knowing the specific direction you need to move in will help you avoid unnecessary changes. The key to not breaking the bank, and making an investment that delivers a return, is to know what exactly about your brand is not resonating and make a change that is authentic to who your brand is and not just a concern that you aren’t keeping up with the latest trends.
Here is a classic example of how Dunkin Donuts got it right, and how Weight Watchers missed the mark (yes, pun is intended- the redesign of their logo was considered by many less than successful.)
Dunkin Donuts challenge was the brand wanted to stay on top of growing beverage category, and having Donuts in the name was a potential limiter for the brand. What the brand did so well, is that it had already invested in building just the “Dunkin” name with its long running campaign “America Runs on Dunkin” which doesn’t mention Donuts. Plus the brand knew their consumers already call them “Dunkin” or “Dunkies”. Making an update to the name was a well calculated decision, combined with an even stronger emphasis on pink and orange- it has gone a long way to extending the runway for this brand’s equity.
Weight Watchers on the other hand made an even more drastic jump to rebranding to just WW as their logo in effort to being more in line with consumer wellness trends. The change was unconvincing and not authentic in the eyes of their
consumers. While they lost the word “weight” the WW didn’t carry any added meaning or value. The rebrand took place in 2019, and the stock plummeted 34% after the company reported poor Q4 earnings. While branding is not all of the business challenge, this expensive investment surely didn’t help. Weight Watchers also didn’t do what Dunkin did - drive enough awareness of the name change before it happened. It’s easy to feel the pressure when consumers try new brands and trends, what doesn’t break the bank is understanding your brand and when to hold fast and knowing just the right level of change in order to pivot.
Don’t Get Stuck in the Weeds. See the Total Brand to Understand Any Weak Spots.
Sometimes being on the inside and working in the brand, we don’t see the forest through the trees. We are so focused on launching a new product or service or putting out fires, that we haven’t stepped back to take a moment how our consumers really see and use us.
This is why doing a brand gallery walk (i.e. brand audit) of all your communications, putting it up on a
wall or screens, plus competition (very important) to review can help you identify your weakest links with your consumer. Are your communications emphasizing one single important benefit or is every communication telling the consumer something different? Do your communications look like they are coming from one brand team or several brand team members with different intentions? Using this exercise to identify your brand’s biggest priorities across the entire organization (sales, marketing, R&D, etc…) will ensure you are maximizing every brand dollar and your team’s time.
Have the Conversation
Brand building is not specific to the marketing team, and in fact, it affects every team at your company. Use our suggestion of a brand audit as one way to start the conversation of where your brand is working and where it may not be making the mark. If leadership is comfortable in discussing what needs to be improved upon, they will be better advocates for your brand in all of its stages. If everyone internally and externally is leveraging the same foundational information, your work will have a more distinct message and end goal.
Focus on Your Key Signature Assets
Consistency, consistency, consistency. If you can find one or two things that your brand can excel in, stick to it. Can’t nail down a couple of distinctive parts of your brand? Start with color and your logo. As we mentioned in our blog, “What is the Right Color for My Brand?”, color has a huge impact and is one of the biggest levers in being able to recall a brand or message. Align on a game plan for every communication to use color and your logo in consistent ways. Taking the time to plan this out, will be an indicator in the future whether you truly need to spend money on a brand refresh or if your current assets are just not being leveraged to their fullest potential.
Whether you are just starting or now realizing that maybe your brand may need to evolve, always remember your point of difference first, and what makes you relevant in the first place. This will pay dividends when deciding how and when to make updates to your branding- and of course, not break the bank!
The Brand Evaluator is a joint venture of independent brand builders – Michelle Thompson, BrandSpark Design and Christine Sech, Brave Oak Brand Building. We work with emerging businesses and nonprofits to clearly and meaningfully convey an organization’s value through brand building strategy, design and content that drives results.