All brand managers would love to have a brand that is hot, relevant and shows the kind of retail velocity that we all dream about. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Like musicians, brands get stale and irrelevant unless they reinvent themselves to be current as consumers' likes and dislikes change over time. This reinvention could come in the form of marketing, product innovation, technology, or a totally new product value proposition. But getting to that point could be a challenge. The first step is for brands to recognize their importance in this ever-changing consumer marketplace. Here are five more tips to help you gain new-found relevancy:
1. Have Vision
All brands have ebbs and flows. It is important for your brand to always understand the dynamics of the marketplace. Even Apple, the brand that could seemingly do no wrong, is being questioned about its future innovation. If Apple can hit a bump in the road, any brand can. Therefore, as a brand manager you must look ahead to what's on the horizon and be ready to adapt before it's too late.
2. Ask Questions
One of the biggest challenges brand managers have is the threat of becoming myopic. They begin to believe that they know exactly what their target consumer wants and what their motivations are. This is a HUGE problem and it happens all the time. Consumers are fickle. When you start to think for them, you are in trouble. Thus, utilize all your communication vehicles--research groups, social media, retail outlets--to ask a lot of questions. This hands-on information gathering will reveal valuable information that can easily translate into product value propositions.
One of the biggest opportunities for older brands is to create a reason for existing customers and potentially new customers to re-discover the brand or take notice for the first time through innovation. You see it often in the spirits, automotive and consumer technology spaces, where the "what have you done for me lately?" mantra thrives. I am not suggesting that you go away from what made your brand successful; however, the right kind of innovation can turn you into front-page news, which will ensure your brand stays relevant.
4. Be Open to New Forms of Distribution
Recognize that today's consumer is buying online at a volume more than most marketers ever believed would happen. As such, consider your retail distribution and determine if there are new, creative ways to make your product more available to consumers than in the past. Could going direct to consumers work? How about e-commerce? What about direct-response television? Any of these could be good options, depending on your brand, your consumer, and where they typically shop.
5. Take Chances
One of the biggest mistakes any brand manager can make is to say, "We would never do that!" or "That won't work for my brand!" The reality is that the consumer buying process is different than it was 10 years ago. What made you successful then might be completely irrelevant today. Thus, keep an open mind and consider all options with a fresh perspective.
Though the crazy, turbulent consumer marketplace is fraught with challenges, it is also what makes marketing so exciting. When you really understand why your brand is important to consumers, you can build marketing programs that give them a reason to care and take notice. Most importantly, by changing with the times, a brand can maintain relevancy and grow along with its consumers--which is the best possible outcome for any relationship.