There was a time when consumers thought of branding in terms of products and services. Businesses could essentially establish their brands during product development by focusing on quality control. But at some point, the fundamental philosophy of branding changed as consumers began to associate brands with things other than products. So has your business considered Branding evolution in your quest to stay relevant?
Branding Evolution: The Art of Changing to Stay Relevant
The focus of branding shifted
Today, when consumers think of Apple and Microsoft, they don’t immediately consider the technical specifications of their respective products. Rather than buying an iPad or Microsoft Surface tablet for functionality reasons, they do so to associate themselves with a community they want to identify with.
A recent Forbes article explains how branding has changed with respect to consumers. According to the article, customers, not companies, now determine what a brand is:
“Brands are no longer products or services, but the communities of people that surround those products and services. Today “Brands” are social and participatory, created not by companies but by consumers. (You can argue that brands have always been social: your mother and grandmother talked over the fence, collected savings stamps, clipped coupons, or wrote letters to the company. The difference is that today, technology has made all of this very instantaneous and very public.)”
The main takeaway here is that you can’t control your brand just by focusing on product development. A good, high-quality product won’t necessarily resonate with consumers today.
Brands are only static in the short-run
As the fundamentals of branding change, and they’ll continue to do so, businesses are faced with a difficult task. Not only do they have to keep up with the evolving nature of branding, but they also might have to establish a new brand that fills the contemporary customer’s void.
The good news is that although many consider brands to be static, they’re actually variable in the long-run. You can’t establish a new brand every week, but you can absolutely re-brand every couple of years.
One example of this is how businesses are currently re-branding to match the social media culture. According to this Business 2 Community article, traditional marketing tactics aren’t effective on social media, so businesses need to update their philosophies accordingly:
“In your role as brand manager, you need to understand clearly that social media does not function (and was not built that way) the same as other marketing channels. You need to erase that way of thinking and approach it entirely differently. The first step that you should take is to consider you content as a product and/or service that you are trying to sell to someone else. In many respects, when you are marketing your brand on social media channels, your content is your product and/or service.”
Social media users don’t care about product quality. They just want an active community that they can participate with and learn from. The best way to develop that culture is to create engaging content to get discussions going.
Re-branding starts with introspection and self-assessment
There are very few, if any, brands that could survive the fundamental shift in branding without adapting. Although you can keep certain elements of your brand, you’ll likely have to make a few changes to evolve with consumers.
This is easier said than done. It’s one thing to change the aesthetic of your brand and redesign your website, but it’s another thing to build a brand based on engagement, involvement, interaction, and participation. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it may not materialize at all if your customers never truly buy in.
It all starts with looking inward, considering the values and distinguishing factors of your company. The most important, albeit difficult, aspect is establishing a brand that genuinely matches your company culture and engages prospective customers.
To talk more about Branding Evolution and your company’s branding strategy, or anything else, contact us today.
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