Thursday, 7th December 2023

How to know you’re running a dying brand

There is hardly any serious entrepreneur or business owner who has not spared a thought for the health of their brand – if it is running optimally and growing or inefficient and dying.

There is hardly any serious entrepreneur or business owner who has not spared a thought for the health of their brand – if it is running optimally and growing or inefficient and dying. If it is the former, then it is advisable to keep on doing what you’re doing, but if the latter is the case, then it is about time you sit back and re-evaluate your business.

To help with a quick evaluation, here are seven (7) things to consider when searching for answers to the critical question: are you running a dying brand?

There’s turnover in team, vendors, and investors: This is a no-brainer, no one wants to stay put or even associate with any company or brand that is perceived as not growing. There are few things to look out for – an exit of several team members all at once, exit of key team members (especially foundation team members who share the dream and ideals of the company), investors, and vendors. 

This is a signal that something isn’t right. It just might be the time to look deeper into your internal processes or task your Human Resource personnel to speak to team members on what the company needs to do better to prevent further drain.

Less and less engagement on social media: If your brand is active and consistent on social media, then it is expected that your followers and engagement continue to increase with time. Stagnancy or a lack of growth on diverse social metrics is a sure signal to look inwards. If your followers do not see any need to engage and interact with your brand virtually, then you might just need a change of strategy or direction.

Some form of perception management strategy may just be what you need to figure out your next line of action. Brand s like Hans and Rene have built a highly engaged social media community and drives conversations amongst its fans. If at any point the engagement begins to dwindle, they need to do an audit quickly.

Demands for discounts/value-adds: Contrary to widely held opinion that clients and customers always ask for discount, it has been proven many times over that people will pay a premium if they are sure of getting commensurate value. It’s a sign of a declining brand when clients who hitherto will pay face value for your products or services now begin to ask for discounts and value-adds (and are actually willing to shop for alternatives if they don’t get it from you).

If this keeps happening more often than necessary then this may be the time to rush the brand into the ER to be resuscitated.

When your earned media begins to deplete: Every brand should take on a life of its own after being sufficiently tended by its minders. Clients, investors, vendors, the media, and other stakeholders should know what to expect from it at any given time. When these entities develop an apathy towards it, and the media doesn’t consider the brand a newsmaker anymore then it is time to ring the alarm.

Journalists are in love with brands that drive buzz and excitement, and they are often willing to amplify such brands free of charge if it guarantees eyeballs for their platform. But if they don’t see the drive in you, then you’re likely to be left in the lurch. For a brand that needs engagement and top-of-mind awareness to thrive, that is not where you want to be. The only way out of this is to find innovative ways to drive buzz so as to attract the interest of the media. 

The need for a brand refresh: How fresh is your brand? Before you answer this, just take a second to ask yourself ‘when was the last time your brand did something new?’ If your answer is “over 18 months ago”, then I am sorry to tell you that you are running a dying brand.

Most brands, just like anything that has life, has a cycle. And if nothing is regularly done to keep the brand fresh in the minds to stakeholders then this is a recipe for disaster. In a fast-changing world where technology and innovation controls the narrative, no company can afford to do the same thing while hoping to outgrow its competitors.

To move ahead, the brand handlers need to look at what others playing in the same field (locally and internationally) are doing to ensure that they are up to pace. This may just be the difference between life and death. 

When you are doing more for less: This is an issue of momentum loss – when you are putting so much activity and energy into the growth of your company and the results appear to be inversely proportional to the effort. If this is the case with your brand, then you obviously need a new growth strategy. 

As a business concern with years of experience, it is safe to assume that your people, processes, and brand profile should go a long way in advancing growth, but if all these are not making the difference and you have to put in money every time you need to advance then it’s time for an emergency procedure.

The apathy of brand advocates: Almost all brands have brand advocates who – due to past experiences – push the gospel of the brand without expecting anything in return. These set of people are a useful bunch when you need to check the pulse of your brand. 

They go where your advertisements and online promotions cannot. And since they are advocating your brand after getting a feel of it and gaining value, they are more likely to wield credibility.

I have personally been a brand advocate for a variety of brands including Salt Lagos, The George Hotel, Lufthansa Airlines, amongst others. A series of experiences at The George has however caused me to withdraw so much that in a recent Branding class, I found myself calling it a brand I used to love. Now, no brand wants to be mentioned this way, and as entrepreneurs it really can be tough, we just need to do our best to ensure that the 20% creamy advocates are locked in and super happy, while working hard on making another 60% satisfied.

Always be on the look-out for influencers who come in contact with your brand and ensure your fix their issues – that is guaranteed to keep them coming back.

Brand advocates are the people you need to court religiously because they play a major part in driving your brand’s growth – you lose them, you lose it all.


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