Key signs you could benefit from a strategic brand refresh

Long Read


Stagnant growth and declining market share


You might have had a hunch that your business needs a rebrand if you’re seeing the early signs of slowing sales, or if a competitor brand is grabbing your wallet share despite your best marketing efforts. If this is happening to you, then it’s important not to jump straight into a visual refresh. A rebranding project without considering your brand strategy is like choosing your destination without looking at the map first.


What will a comprehensive brand strategy help you with?


Think of a brand strategy as a roadmap for your business; it guides you. It’s something that all businesses should have, regardless of size or industry type. Done properly, it will clarify who your target audience is as, let’s face it, without a buyer, you don’t have a brand. It will ensure that the best bits of the company are enhanced and clarify the branding messages that resonate with your audience ensuring you stand out from competitors, and make a lasting impact on your target market.


Your brand strategy can help you deliver a consistent message across all channels — from your website and social media accounts to advertising campaigns — so that customers know exactly what to expect when interacting with your business.




Lack of brand differentiation


One of the key issues that many businesses face today is carving out differentiation. This differentiation begins as a strategic one, and this strategic branding is then echoed in the visual brand.


A whopping 92% of marketers say they struggle with standing out in a crowded and noisy market, says research by ADweek.


So, if you feel that you’re not getting the brand recognition you deserve, you are not alone.


Beyond copycats and lookalikes between competitors, a whole sector or approach is often generalised. For example;

  • eco brands often use green leaves
  • adverts representing females in business tend to use women in aprons
  • Over 75% of AI brand identities seem to use a hexagon within their visual brand


To understand if you are struggling with differentiation, it might help you to call upon a brand strategy consultant who can look at your brand with fresh eyes to spot your strengths and weaknesses.




Inconsistent brand messaging


Tired brands often deviate from the core messaging that was initially derived from the strategy. In this case, it’s likely the brand strategy has not been updated, and marketers have had to freewheel their own communications to remain relevant to market changes and audience demands. This can sometimes lead to a vague or generic brand message that doesn’t resonate with your audience or differentiate you from your competitors.


Consistency builds recognition, and fosters loyalty and trust. Much like how compound interest builds over time, your brands reputation (sometimes called brand equity) builds over time.


By setting clear guidelines about how each communication channel should look and sound, you avoid confusing your audience while ensuring consistency in the application of your core values. Additionally, this type of plan allows you to target different audience segments with tailored messages that appeal to them directly.


If you feel your messaging needs an update, it’s worth reviewing and refining it based on your customer research, competitor analysis, and market trends. Ensure your brand message is regular, relevant, authentic, and memorable to get the traction you need.




Competitive pressures and market dynamics


Many marketers feel the pressure from their Finance Director to scale back on brand-building efforts during any economic downturn. The data proves that the strongest brands do not ease off spending or innovating through rebranding activities. In fact, recent research by brand platform Frontify summarises that many of the world’s biggest brands were built during a downturn: WhatsApp, Airbnb, Uber, and IBM come to mind. And when times are tough, CMOs know that continuing to invest in their brand is just good business sense — and frequently pays off.




Declining customer loyalty and engagement


Customer loyalty might be strong for a specific type of audience, but there could be a demographic shift and a requirement to target a new audience segment. For example wanting to align your brand with a younger audience.


This has happened recently with Stanley Cups — selling-out across the US after their popularity rose on Tik-Tok and attracted a younger audience. It’s no surprise that Stanley’s new president was the Chief Marketing Officer at Crocs, another brand that made the transition to being seen as cool.


New audience segments might see your brand as boring or as having an outdated brand personality that doesn’t appeal. Your brand personality is the human-like traits that you express through your voice, tone, and style. It helps you create an emotional bond with your customers and stand out from the crowd. You need to evaluate your brand personality and update it if it doesn’t match your brand strategy, values, goals, and culture.




Difficulty in communicating a value proposition


USP (Unique Selling Proposition) vs value proposition

To talk clearly about a value proposition, we first need to demystify agency lingo!

A value proposition is a short statement that communicates why buyers should choose your brand. It goes beyond just the unique features or benefits and speaks to the overall experience, feeling or outcome that customers can expect if they purchase from your brand.


A USP (unique selling proposition) focuses on what gives the product differentiation. Essentially, it highlights the unique features or benefits that customers can expect to receive.


So your USP describes how your company stands out from the competition, “Why should I buy your product instead of your competitors?” While your value proposition focuses on solving your audience’s problems. “What is this brand offering me?”. Therefore, no matter where you promote, if you want to gain a competitive advantage, your company needs both. Both unique value propositions and unique selling propositions can and should be used in marketing materials on your website, social media, blog, and everywhere else your brand appears.


Example of this in action:

Value proposition: Be more productive at work with less effort
Unique selling proposition: Where work happens


And for a luxury watch reseller – Subdial:
Value proposition: Reimagining the world of watches
Unique selling proposition: Your watch collection in one place, digitally


The most successful bands have short, to-the-point propositions that explain what the product does and what problem the company solves for its customers.

Before you even consider a value proposition, you need to be really clear on who you are targeting and understand what they respond to. When I say clear – I mean really clear. “Everyone” is not a target, and neither is “males ages 45-60” Many businesses struggle to really nail who they are targeting; this makes setting a brand value proposition really hard. So start there first and ensure that what you write is short and clear. The best value propositions aim to leave you feeling emotionally drawn to the company.




Lack of clarity in communicating the brand strategy


The brand strategy is your business’s roadmap; it guides all of your communications, including your messages, channels, and visual identity. Confusion can happen when your strategy is written in a deck and then left to rot on your server, failing to come to life. Or perhaps it’s non-existent or weak in the first place. Either way, it will start to see it cause havoc, and it might show up in the following ways;


Confusion among consumers

When a brand’s positioning is unclear, not being used at all, your audience may not understand what your brand stands for or what sets it apart from competitors. In a crowded marketplace where you are battling with similar products, you’ll quickly become the last choice. This confusion can lead to a lack of trust and loyalty among your audience.


Inconsistent messaging

It’s difficult for a company to maintain consistent messaging across all marketing channels when there isn’t a central message or clear objectives that the brand strategy has directed; essentially, there is nothing to align to. Inconsistency can dilute the brand and make it harder for consumers to understand what the brand represents. Ensuring that all branding is anchored to a clear brand strategy.


Difficulty targeting the right audience

As all brand strategies start with an audience-first approach, with the right one in place, it becomes easy to use it to guide you on what messages will target the exact audience (or potential customers) you want to buy from your brand. A lack of clarity in strategic brand positioning can make it challenging for a company to identify and effectively target the right audience, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and resources.


Ultimately, not communicating your brand strategy or being erratic with how you do it can lead to stagnation or a decline in sales as your customer turns to competitors with more compelling and differentiated offerings – in short, they have a strong brand identity that is underpinned with a robust brand strategy.




Limited Brand Awareness and Recognition


Limited brand awareness is often down to the lack of:

  • the right message;
  • the right channel;
  • the volume of communications.

Both 1 & 2 are related to having the right brand strategy in place; point 3 we usually find is budget-related. Two out of three means that an organisation with limited brand awareness and recognition can benefit from a rebrand as it will provide an opportunity to create a stronger and more memorable brand identity. Once a successful brand strategy is in place, creating the right messaging, and that messaging being on the right channel, will ensure that the organisation can effectively communicate its value proposition and build awareness among consumers.


Additionally, a rebrand can generate buzz and interest in the market, attracting attention from both existing and new customers. Often, you can leverage press coverage to your advantage for your own marketing—such as award wins or article mentions. This will increase brand visibility and recognition over time.




Challenges in Adapting to Industry Trends and Changes


We live in a world that is constantly adapting and changing. This often shows us as shifting industry trends. The main drivers behind these are technology (think of the impact of AI), societal shifts (often driven by global economic changes such as the Covid19 pandemic) and fiscal changes (recessions, inflation and global trade agreements).


These changes can often signal the need for a rebrand; what once worked may no longer be.


Successful brands are unafraid of needing to adapt and change to remain relevant.


If you are experiencing a decline in customers, it often indicates that the current brand, messaging or positioning is not aligning with evolving consumer needs and market dynamics.


A rebrand can provide the opportunity to refresh the brand’s identity, redefine its positioning, and realign its strategies to better resonate with the changing industry landscape. This will allow an organisation to stay relevant, competitive, and connected with its target audience.



In Conclusion


There are many solid, strategic business reasons to rebrand. Some are driven by internal changes within your own business, and many are the result of external pressures within the sector, such as new competitors, a shift in audience, or overarching trends. Given these potential consequences, if a brand is experiencing a lack of clarity in its brand strategy and positioning, it’s often a strong indicator that it’s time for a rebrand. A rebrand can help the company redefine its positioning, clarify its message and revitalise its brand identity to better resonate with its target audience and achieve its business objectives.


A well-executed rebrand can significantly enhance the organisation’s brand awareness and recognition, paving the way for future growth and success.


If you are looking for support with a rebrand or have questions about your own strategy, please drop us an email or give us a call. We’d be more than happy to help.