In a time of constant change and heightened customer expectations, the greatest danger facing most brands today is the loss of brand relevance. People are ultra-connected. Markets constantly shift. New trends emerge. Competitors enter and shake things up. And customers expect more from the brands they buy from. As a result, many businesses struggle to stay relevant — trying to get ahead of the competition, adapt fast enough, and maintain their position in the market.
In order to survive, brands need to evolve in a way that differentiates them from their competitors, and at the same time meets the needs of the customers who matter to their business. Oftentimes faced with an issue of relevance, brands struggle between two ends — wanting to gain parity with competitors and adapt to market needs, while feeling worried about losing established brand credibility or diluting their brand image.
As a result, maintaining brand relevance comes down to two courses of action:
- Adapting to the current needs of customers in the market, or
- Disrupting what people want to buy. Many businesses do this by creating new categories or subcategories altogether — altering the way customers approach a purchase, and making their brand a pioneer in a new category
Sometimes in these situations, brands have to reposition all together. This is why brands that maintain long-term relevance are often bold, strong brands — constantly moving forward, innovating, adapting, and disrupting, while making sure they stay true to the core of their brand. So how do you know what direction to take? How do you make sure your brand maintains value in a competitive marketplace?
Here are some rules of brand relevance.
Be customer-centric. Everything your brand invests in, builds, and brings to market should be designed to meet the needs of your target markets. This includes needs that customers themselves might not yet be aware of. It’s about working to see what others don’t. These kinds of insights can allow you to create brand relevance in ways that your competitors are not. So get in your customers heads. Analyze their purchase patterns. Examine the ways they live their daily lives, and build a brand that integrates seamlessly into the lives of the people who matter to your success.
Focus on experience. Focusing on your customers means focusing on how people experience your brand. As a result, every touchpoint counts, and relevancy can only be maintained if your brand interacts and engages in relevant ways. It’s not only about a single product. Or a new website. Your brand has to create a holistic experience that is relevant to your target audiences at every point.
Don’t forget what makes you different. Jumping on a bandwagon may be a short-term fix, but it’s not going to help build long-term brand relevance. You have to adapt in ways that still play to your brand strengths and emphasize why your brand is different. You don’t want to lose your brand’s differentiating factors in an attempt to stay relevant.
Create, innovate, and engage. Be open, take chances, and don’t be afraid to push your limits, engage in fresh ways, and find unique ways of meeting your customers’ needs. Don’t put your brand or business in a box. If you do, you will lose any chance of staying relevant in a competitive market. So as leaders, make sure you strive to build a workplace that encourages creativity and innovation. And don’t fear doing something new.
Align decisions with your purpose. Make sure you’re making authentic brand decisions. Trying to stay relevant but not doing it authentically never works. So look to where you want your brand to head. What are your long-term goals and aspirations? How can you maintain relevance while moving towards those goals?
Relevant Brands are Successful Brands
Brand relevance is never a sure thing. Anything can change at any moment. As a result, smart brands understand the rules of relevance, and earn and re-earn their position in the market place each and every day. Think of all the brands and even entire categories of brands that have fallen off the map, many of which used to hold immense value for groups of customer. How? Loss of relevance is probably to blame.
Maintaining brand relevance means maintaining the trust and loyalty of your customers. Brands that commit to being relevant brands are focused on and oftentimes ahead of what their customers might expect and need, willing to rise to the top, take a risk and redefine what they do and/or how they do it, all while staying true to who they are as a brand.
So take time to consider how you can build a more relevant brand. Maintaining brand relevance is the key to remaining valuable to the people who matter to your business and where it’s headed.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy firm.
Originally published at www.emotivebrand.com on February 28, 2019.