Have you ever had the feeling your brand was stuck in a time warp?  Do customers still associate your product with the Clinton Administration? If so, I have a few tips that will help whether you need a few tweaks or a major overhaul.  Knowing when, and how, to redefine a brand is critical for any leader who wants to keep their brand relevant to new generations and a stronger challenge to an ever growing competitive set.

The MINI brand has a rich heritage, both as an automobile that changed history and as a brand that became a pop culture icon.  We are now in a busy marketplace, one of the fastest growing segments in the auto industry, and times have changed.  The time has come to implement changes that will redefine our iconic brand, keep it relevant and set the stage for the future.

Here are four tips for identifying when and how to reposition your brand, and when it's time to evolve in order to stand out in the marketplace:

1. Always Listen

The first step in redefining a brand is to engage with your audience, listen to their concerns or hesitations, and react to those conversations. Adapting to changing consumer habits isn't just about trend watching and analyzing sales data, it's about engaging and understanding what your audience wants and how they want it delivered. It's about reacting and responding to that feedback.  This is universal across all industries. Any consumer-facing company should foster an honest, two-way relationship with its audience, demonstrating that it's an approachable brand that's flexible and open to embrace clever, intelligent solutions.

2. Experience Your Brand Experience

The second step to redefining your brand is to initiate a reality check.  For example, we put ourselves in our customers' shoes and experience MINI from the outside in. By doing so, we discovered that consumers in the market for a premium brand reacted poorly to fun, cheeky marketing and advertising. They wanted a brand and product that screamed trustworthiness, high quality, and innovation.  In order to attract a premium customer, you cannot lack the sophistication level that comes with making a premium purchase. How you're presenting your company to the consumer says more about your product than you might think. This is especially important when you look at today's changing consumer habits. More often than not a consumer has made up his/her mind based solely on word of mouth before they even seek out a point of purchase, whether online or in retail. So experience your experience.

3. Complacency Kills

One of the more damaging things you can do is assume your brand, its identity and reputation are still resonating with target audiences in the same way it always has. This is almost never the case. For example, you may have always considered your brand to be fun and quirky, and while that may certainly still be true, you should understand that there's no singular definition of fun. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Positioning can always be refreshed and the holistic experience can and should be more personalized. With sales made or lost at every touchpoint, no company can rest on its laurels. By effectively tailoring a meaningful experience, a brand can create and recreate scalable change across the board again and again.

4 It's Not Just About Marketing and Advertising

When it comes time to reposition your brand and plot a new course for the future you must always remember that it's not just about marketing and advertising.  You need to look at every touch point that exists between your brand and the customer.  This is especially true when you look at areas such as customer service and the retail experience, two areas that leave very impactful and long lasting impressions on your customer. Always make sure the customer walks away with a smile on their face and they are sure to return for more. For example, we empower MINI dealers to "Surprise and Delight" their customers with things like baseball tickets, replacing a stolen guitar and a package of pet-friendly MINI merchandise.

Listening to your customers and having the ability reposition and redefine at any moment are key factors to the success of any company and its management.  By following these tips, you can assure that your brand remains relevant and top of mind to the next generation of customers.