The Minimum You Need to Have A Competitive Brand.

As discussed in yesterday’s blog, if your brand is “weak” or if you want to improve your brand’s standing, there are certain actions you need to take to ensure it is at a minimum competitive in your marketplace. The good news is that a systematic approach and process can get you there (it’s not magic). This process is today’s topic.

  1. First: stop everything, hold the presses, start an assessment of the current state of your brand, today. You’ve heard the old chestnut: the best time to plant a shade tree was ten years ago; the second-best time is today.
  2. Do this assessment by appointing someone competent (employee or consultant) to run/manage the process. Get someone who’s done it before, has successful experience with products or services like the ones you sell, someone you feel good about and trust after a vetting process.
  3. I said above that this brand diagnosis and prescription process is a systematic one, and while the person you entrust with this process will have their own toolkit, in my opinion there are absolutely critical steps that anyone who knows what they are doing will follow:
    • The person you engage will, via appropriate market research, find out what your customers currently think of you, your products, your service, your people, your everything.
    • This will give you a clear-eyed view of where your company sits today in the customer’s mind, and then this consultant (or employee) will help you figure out where you want your brand to be in a specified time frame (for example, 1, 3, or 5 years out).
    • A clear-eyed view of how your brand, now, is different than your competitors’ brands, and an exploration of aspirational differentiation in the future.
    • A clear-eyed view of the level and quality of resources your top competitor commits to their business; this is key – what level of resources will you need to bring to bear to have a legitimate chance of competing effectively?
  4. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting this kind of insight about your business.  What follows – the part about building, strengthening, or refurbishing your brand – is dependent on this insight.
  5. With this critical insight, your consultant/employee can help you:
    • Define the nature of your (new/strengthened/reinforced) future brand objective.
    • Construct the correct positioning for your brand that will enable you to meet the brand objective in your (previously) specified time frame.
    • Put together a marketing/customer communication plan with competitive levels of quality and resources (people, tools, monetary).
    • Present to the board for buy-in and support.

That’s the process – put the right person in charge, support them, make it happen.

What if you want more than the “minimum” for a competitive brand? What if you want to challenge the leader in your product category, to in turn become the leading brand? What would that take? I’ll answer tomorrow.

Mark Ryan

March, 2020