Relationships aren’t always simple. In fact, they’re pretty complicated. But every step of the way, you’re building something, you get to know each other, find out what makes your partner tick, what they respond well to (and what they don’t). You build trust, fall in love, and eventually, commit and build a life together. These milestones are achieved through the ups and downs, the good and bad, and everything that life throws your way.
As you think about your own brand, and its relationship with customers, clients, and your community, what are you giving to the relationship? What are you expecting from them? How do those values and expectations line up?
Successful Brands Evolve
As brands grow, it’s easy to cut corners and move away from what got you started. Much like a relationship, a successful brand evolves and stops to have a gut check when things are awry and out of line.
For a property, maybe it would be easier to skimp on the brand development because you know the location alone will lead to prime awareness and leasing opportunities, but in a crowded market, you understand the need to pause and ‘do things right’ to build a brand that doesn’t just seem cool now, but that has legacy and works its way into the fabric of the local community.
For a school, maybe there has been a change in leadership that has left the current staff a bit wayward with a need to reconnect with the ‘why’ of the brand’s message, and systematize creative deliverables to remove autonomy and guesswork.
For a retail brand, maybe there’s a new product you’re bringing into the market but it doesn’t quite fit in the mix of what got you started and what you’re known for, so it’s time to reset and connect the dots between product lines and better understand your consumer(s) needs.
Brand Gut Check
We often come in at these moments – whether it be a new product line, a change in leadership, an acquisition, or a new target market, we find ourselves often at the intersection of ‘where you’ve been’ and ‘where you want to go’. That path, that journey, demands a hard look inward to ensure you’re giving all you can to make client relationships work. Ask yourself the following questions (and answer them honestly):
- Do we have a shared language about our brand? If you ask 5 different staff members, would they be able to give a similar ‘script’ on the key value props your brand possesses? If not, get together in a room and work to refocus on your mission, vision, and values.
- Is our brand (continuing to) resonate with our audience? Your target demographic is a moving target. It’s not always the same, and it certainly is not stagnant. As people grow up, move away, find new jobs, and establish new values, it’s important that you stay in tune with what they need and desire. If you can’t clearly answer who you’re trying to reach, sell to, recruit, or sign on, take a pause and make sure you, at the very least, know who that ‘perfect persona’ is, and how they want to be marketed to.
- Do we like our brand? I’ll be the first to admit that your brand is for them, not for you, but it’s also something that you need to be proud of, and that is a reflection (an honest one) of you, your team/culture, and what you offer. A ‘passable’ brand is a clear and direct path to burnout. Take time and effort to rest and refocus to ensure your brand is keeping up with the times and isn’t falling behind as others push through rebranding and remarketing efforts. This world we live in is a living, breathing, ever-changing market that demands you stay aware and take time to refocus when it’s needed.
Before you can push a sale or a conversion, you have to put in the work. You need to earn the trust, respect, and love of your audience, community, and consumers.
Nurture Your Relationships
Allow time and space for building relationships in the pursuit of results. Don’t lose sight of your benchmarks and goals, but understand that successful marketing, messaging, and positioning isn’t much, and certainly isn’t genuine, unless you’ve spent time informing, supporting, and enticing your audience, and being clear with your intentions.
Being memorable matters. Put in the time and show a little patience. Everything will not have a direct return on investment, but it all will contribute to your greater good, earn your brand trust, support, and admiration, and build a better bottom line.