Great brands endure. As we stumble our way through this pandemic and (hopefully sooner rather than later) make it to the other side, our new world will demand new approaches to marketing and customer engagement. When the dust settles, how can your brand evolve to meet that need?
The truth is, when in crisis or not, brands have always needed to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant. Without constant innovation, the younger, brighter, shinier brand on the block suddenly has a grip on customers that were once yours—and you’re wondering how to win back their favor.
It’s only natural: human beings are hardwired to seek novelty. In fact, there’s a part of our brains that’s specifically activated by new stimuli, and it’s linked to our capability for learning and memory. So don’t blame your brand—or the customer. The constant pursuit of newness is part of what makes people, people.
The challenge, then, is to reinvigorate your brand while staying true to what drove your initial success—and it’s a strategic one. Updating a logo or color palette likely isn’t going to do the trick. You need to go beyond merely polishing your look and feel to unearthing a clearer, more relevant understanding of what you’re offering customers and why it matters
In effect, it all comes back to your hero. How can you better solve their problem, in a newer and more exciting or appealing way? Let’s take a look at three powerful strategies.
Find a deeper why
Let’s reiterate the problem: For whatever reason, customers aren’t feeling your brand like they once did. As with any relationship, that means you need to rekindle the flame with a new emotional connection. One powerful way to do that is to look for an insight into your customers that’s deeper and more expansive than the ones you’ve leaned on previously.
One great example of a brand that found this deeper connection is AirBnB. Back when they started in 2007, their tagline was “Forget Hotels.” The message highlighted the convenience and economy of booking a place to stay from a real person, for a great rate, in an easy and modern way.
But as AirBnB’s brand evolved, they unearthed an insight more powerful than sheer practicality to drive their messaging. Turns out, people rented AirBnBs not because they wanted a cheap and convenient alternative to hotels, but because they wanted the experience of living like a local. Thus, a new tagline emerged: “Live there.”
Where “Forget hotels” speaks to a practical, budget-conscious customer interested in low-hassle options and convenience, “Live there” speaks to a customer who is adventurous, curious, and well-traveled—or at least aspires to be. With this new message, a little miracle takes place: in a way, the AirBnB itself actually becomes the destination—rather than just the place to lay your head at night. Now boasting more than seven million listings worldwide and two million guests per night, it’s clear the pivot has paid off.
The takeaway: Find a deeper insight about what your customer really wants from your product or service.
State the painfully obvious
There’s an age-old sales anecdote: An old lady’s furnace breaks down and she goes to the appliance store for a new one. A salesman eagerly shows her one of the latest models, sharing all kinds of information about the product’s innovative features, the company’s history, the high customer satisfaction rating, and the number of BTUs it pumps out. When he finishes his pitch, the old lady replies, “That’s nice, but will it keep an old lady warm?”
Maybe getting customers to fall in love with your brand again doesn’t require an earth-shaking emotional insight. Maybe you just need to say what you do in a simpler, straightforward way. We often become so enamored with all the intricacies of our products and services that we completely forget about the customer’s perspective—and the simple things that matter to them.
Is there a way for you to state what you do in a forehead-smackingly simple way? Think Optimum: We’re your TV, phone, and internet company. Or: The Toyota Yaris: It’s a car! You might not need a super profound insight for your brand to take on new life in the eyes of your target audience. You might just need to come out and say what you do—even if it’s painfully obvious.
The takeaway: Tell customers what you’re offering them in language so simple, a 5-year-old could understand it.
Reframe what you do
It’s not the gambling industry; it’s the gaming industry. It’s not a used car, it’s a certified pre-owned vehicle. It’s not the estate tax, it’s the death tax. Reframing a product, service, or idea with new language is the oldest trick in the marketing book—and that’s because it works. How you describe something tells consumers how to think about it, and it’s a powerful tool putting a fresh spin on your brand.
Sometimes it’s as simple as rejecting the very category you’re in. When HBO launched in the 80s, they had a problem. One the one hand, they were like all the other TV channels—just another number, delivering the same form of media on the same device. But in other ways, their commercial-free paid model for premium programming had nothing to do with their competitors. They needed a fresh spin to convey this to customers, and the resulting theme line, “It’s Not TV, It’s HBO” said it all, establishing a not-like-the-others brand image that holds true to this day.
So maybe you don’t sell an HR tech platform after all—you sell a culture engine. Or you don’t sell financial planning services—you sell vehicles to help people fund their dreams. Whatever category you’re in, experiment with HBO’s theme line as inspiration to set yourself apart from the pack. Say, “We’re not [category], we’re __________ ,” and see where that gets you.
The takeaway: Experiment with describing yourself as the exact opposite of the very category you’re in.
There are endless ways you can freshen your brand and regain strong footing in the marketplace. It’s all a matter of strategy—and finding that sweet spot where your offering intersects the ever-changing needs and desires of the market. If you need help crafting a messaging strategy that speaks anew to your target audience, give us a holler—it’s what we do best.