Fact is, most brands are unintentionally killed by the ones who care about them most. In Brand Immortality: How Brands Can Live Long and Prosper, authors Hamish Pringle and Peter Field, draw upon 880+ case studies to make a strong argument that “Properly managed, no brand need decay and die — immortality is within the reach of all…”
Unfortunately, that’s not the case with most brands today. Work done by Professor Richard Foster at Yale University shows that the average lifespan of a company in the S & P 500 has declined from 61 years in 1958 to a mere 18 years today. Wow.
So how do you “properly manage” a brand for eternal health and prosperity?
Unlike mortal brands, immortal ones adhere to a tried and true process of Eight Steps to become so. What’s more this can be implemented at any stage in a brand’s lifecycle. Not following it – no step can be skipped – will result in the eventual decline and death of your brand. In other words, if you don’t follow these steps you could find yourself guilty of brandicide.
Eight Steps To Death-Proof Your Brand
1. Know Your Customers
It’s not enough to know who they are, where they live and what they like. You need to do the appropriate research to find out that one thing they want and need that only your brand can satisfy. To find out how we uncover insights you can use to dramatically grow your business, click here.
2. Know Your Competitors
You need to study their strengths, their weaknesses and understand which ones are real threats and why people choose them over you. You need to understand their unique position in the market so that you can truly differentiate yourself from it. But most of all you need to know what their Achilles heel is - the things they are unwilling or unable to do that your customers want. To find out more about how we can help you find the competitive intelligence you need to grow your business, click here.
3. Know Yourself
Self-analysis is hard and you’re going to need to hire an objective third-party to help you with this one. You’ll need to codify your long and short-term business objectives and make sure they’re realistic for the market you’re in and the budget you have to spend. You’ll need to define your core values and honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll need to define why your company exists and who you really want to be when you grow up. To find out how we can help you take a good hard look at yourself – warts, opportunities and all – click here.
4. Find Your Higher Purpose
So after you’ve completed Steps 1, 2 & 3 it’s time figure out what your brand’s Higher Purpose is. This is the most important step of the eight because your Higher Purpose is like a mini business plan that will drive and guide everything your brand does moving forward. In essence it synthesizes all the learning about your business, your competitors and your customers into a powerful statement that acts like a brand promise and value proposition on steroids. Warning. Seek the help of a professional on this one. To see a few Higher Purpose statements we’ve written click here.
5. Gain Consensus
OK, so now you have valuable customer insights, you know your competition, you understand yourself and have defined your Higher Purpose. The next step is to make absolutely sure the key stakeholders in your company will commit to the brand platform you created. Verbal agreement is not enough. All stakeholders must sign a pledge that they believe in it and will support it. Then you’ll need to follow-up every quarter and measure what percentage of your company employees and customers know and understand your purpose. As the percentages rise, so will your market share.
6. Create A Master Plan To Fulfill Your Higher Purpose
This is where you develop a strategic plan, an integrated media plan and creative ideas to bring your Higher Purpose to life. These three items are combined in a master schedule for the calendar year called an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan or IMC for short. Your IMC plan should be reviewed every quarter and revised to adapt to market and business changes/opportunities.
7. Create Meaningful Branded Experiences Integrated Across Paid, Earned and Owned Media
We know a combination of paid, earned and owned media works best. Paid gets the word out while earned and owned support and amplify it. The rule of thumb here is that every execution should be as good or better than the medium in which it appears. All works should be impossible to ignore, hard to forget and inspire people to share it. And most importantly of all, every piece should reinforce and demonstrate your higher purpose and through it a promise to serving your customers better than your competitors can or will.
8. Measure Results, Revise, Optimize and Repeat
You can’t improve it if you don’t measure it. Analyze and track results while continuously revising and optimizing work to take advantage of changes in the market.
Give us 90 minutes and we’ll show you how we death-proof your brand.