A brand’s life is not always easy, but when well cared for, it can acquire such deep meaning that its presence will become part of our lives and maybe even our culture for generations. Where is your brand in its brand life?
Before a brand is born, it’s a glint in a founder’s eye. Whether it is a start-up or a new addition to a larger brand family, this is where big ideas get translated into business plans and then into prototypes of products and/or services that people (investors, employees, consumers) want in their lives.
The business plan and core vision is complete. This is when the baby gets a name, a wardrobe, learns to speak and is presented to the world. Often, this is done on a dime. When baby brands are well-funded by a parent company or an investment team, they can get started with a larger brand strategy and design team.
These awkward years include stepping into the spotlight (for better or worse), increased competition and the desire and funding to invest in becoming more attractive to customers, investors and employees. This is often when a brand discovers its true identity, puts some brand standards in place (sometimes rules can be a good thing) and positions itself for growth.
Typically, brands that reach their prime have figured out how to adapt quickly and intelligently to fast-changing market conditions and are now focused on growth. At this point, their brand platform and identity system should be clear and they are working to get the word out to new audiences and innovating bigger and better brand experiences.
In mid-life, sometimes brands notice new, younger brands are coming in and stealing turf. They are no longer the only game in town. Leadership may be tempted to recreate itself into a new and “hip” incarnation. But BE WARNED, you can’t say “make me look better” if you aren’t willing to start living better. A brand rejuvenation needs to be more than a new and improved logo.
Sometimes the growth strategy for complimentary brands is to get hitched in a merger/acquisition. This is a big moment in the life of brands and the transition needs to be handled appropriately both internally and externally, verbally and visually, to ensure market share isn’t lost in the process.
When a new up-and-comer starts looking too sleek, sometimes mid-life brands just eat them up. For those entrepreneurs who love start-up culture but get frustrated when more structure gets put into place, this makes for a good exit strategy as well.
This brand has a history and a loyal following that oftentimes is fearful of change. Since change is necessary for life, it must be done very carefully. Introducing new products with new names and using the legacy brand as an endorsing brand is one strategy. Maintaining a culture of innovation is another. And there are multiple approaches in between.
A brand on life support is no life to live. While a few have been known to make comebacks (you have our respect La Croix) others limp along for way too long. And sadly, sometimes they die. We loved you Blockbuster. But we packed up our VCRs during our last move and haven’t seen them since. Don’t be a Blockbuster.
Willoughby helps brands grow and evolve to win hearts and minds. We develop strategies and design experiences to take brands to the next level.