As part of the development of marketing strategies for two national Australian business brands who, although they operate in very contrasting markets, shared a very similar challenge.
What they had both started out as over 10 years ago, was no longer what they had now become famous for.
Perhaps not surprisingly, as a company grows and matures it sometimes finds areas of excellence or specialisation that were not apparent when the original business plan and operating model was developed.
And again, not surprisingly the management over time, gravitate to their strengths and focus more and more on ‘what drives the business today’
How does this marketing metamorphosis happen?
Many business managers and owners fail to reflect the changes that are taking place in their own business, their market and their customers.
Due to their own familiarity within the business and assumptions that the market understands their business as much as they do, they might fail to notice their original company (business plan, name, brand, imagery, tagline etc.) no longer presents a true reflection of who they are, what they do and who they have now become.
And, like the slightly tarnished and fading doormat we never seem to notice when we repeatedly walk through our own front door, yet visitors can’t help but make a mental note: (“yuk the doormat’s almost worn through”) we simply become accustomed and at times, oblivious to the changing needs.
This same kind of day-to-day familiarity can often be the enemy of managers and owners charged with incrementally (as opposed to organically) growing their business.
Two recent case studies as examples
Effectively the kind of business they had started out as, had developed and adapted and changed over time – quite successfully in both cases, yet the overall name and branding was a seemingly unnoticed legacy of the past.
And it seems this is not an unfamiliar place for businesses to find themselves, especially as the natural progression of their original business model, products or services may have changed over the years in response to the market and their customer needs.
According to an article by noted Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, this natural metamorphosis happens more often than many businesses may realise.
He states: “Over 93 percent of “successful innovation” follows false starts. By the time a company has progressed from development to growth mode, its marketing program — if it has one — is often based on outmoded assumptions”.
He continues; “so, high growth companies should conduct a mid-course marketing assessment. Among the things to review are your customers’ needs, practices and purchase preferences; the competitive landscape; your product descriptions; and your marketing and web strategies”.
Fortunately, the Managing Directors of both companies referred to here, were astute enough to recognise ‘their front door mat’ required replacement and updating in order to provide the right message for ‘visiting and potential customers’ so that they might achieve the high growth objectives that they were charged with.
Both of these companies, one a technology service provider and the other a specialised logistics supplier, were of similar age and had both been successfully growing over the 10 years since they were first created.
Both had developed successful business models and both covered the Australian market with operations in all states and aspirations to grow their brands internationally.
They were no longer what they had started out as
But the real contributing factor to restricted future growth was that their current and future growth and customer base did not reflect the business model they had originally established their business on.
‘How can that be’? You might ask.
Well simply, when these companies began operations they were in the fortunate position of being able to name their companies to directly reflect their service product and the segment they operated in and the customer groups they were targeting.
As they had both grown and expanded and subsequently developed a specialised and quite niche reputation in the market, their original name and imagery (a little like that fading front doormat) no longer communicated the right signals to potential customers or those who were not familiar with the changed circumstances of each company.
In other words: what both these companies had started out as, was not what they had become! And it seems Professor Christensen’s observations are that this is not a rarity.
It’s a timely reminder to every business manager charged with growing their business, to check that their original name (brand) and all accompanying imagery and customer communications – including web site, are a true and accurate reflection of the market they are pitching to today.
Both the BrandQuest clients mentioned in this article, recognized that their historic name and branding had little direct relevance or synergy to the market they were now pitching to – or the service they had each become famous for.
Their business had changed but their brand had not
Each business may have changed for the better, but their brand had not!
In fact, they were both bold and brave enough to admit and understand that their current name and brand was a major contributing factor restricting their ability to attract new customers and grow their market share.
While their current client portfolio had an understanding of their ‘changed circumstances’ you can understand what a potential barrier this presented to business growth potential.
And both recognized that if they were to achieve their growth targets they had to present a new (metaphorical) ‘front doormat’ to attract and invite new customers into their business – with a name and image that better captured and reflected their new and improved business model.
This realization was the driving catalyst for the undertaking of totally new marketing strategies for each business that has resulted in their new branding and focus right across, within and outside their business so there is now 100% alignment with what each company does better than anyone else – with a new name and brand imagery now truly reflecting the unique position of each.
It takes a brave and bold management and board of directors (and in one of the cases the private equity owners) to recognize the positive rewards and upside of a re-focused organization with a clear and united understanding and commitment to the customer with a brand strategy (and in the case of both recent examples), a new name and new imagery that truly reflected their speciality within the marketplace.
If you’re a business manager, charged with growing your business, ask yourself this question;
Is what your company does best, what drives your revenues, is the service or product benefit that customers seek you out for, and why they continue to buy from you, reflected in your current business name – or have you become something else over time?
If the answer is “No – our name is historic and was a starting point and is not a true and accurate reflection of what we do best”, then obviously, as the Professor has pointed out, you’re not alone.
As our two recent case studies demonstrate, the outcomes of this observation have lead them to undertaking new marketing strategies that have had direct, dynamic and highly positive outcomes for each.
BrandQuest is a strategy and brand management consultancy that intrinsically believes that great brands are born of the founders and staff who work there. They are not the result of an outsourced creative endeavour but the cumulative knowledge that a company possesses.
Since 2007, BrandQuest has developed a process that within a 3 week time frame can extract and refine this inner knowledge into a powerful brand strategy.
Our clients work with us because they seek:
- Increased brand and business value
- Alignment, clarity and direction for their Branding
- Robust, authentic and fearless advice