Keep the best, evolve the rest

By Lynn Manternach / Guest Column

Is it time to refresh your brand? Every brand needs to be updated periodically to remain relevant as markets and consumers evolve and change.

By mindfully taking advantage of the brand equity you have already built and paying close attention to your customers, your brand refresh can position you for ongoing success. Your goal should be to keep the best and evolve the rest.

A fresh brand will reflect a current and up-to-date image of your company. This is reassuring to existing customers and attractive to new ones.

Your brand refresh can be subtle, simply evolving the current look and messaging in small but important ways. Your refresh can also be big and bold, with clearly visible changes in look, position and focus.

Deciding how much updating is necessary for your brand starts with taking an in-depth look at your current one. And by “in-depth look,” I mean research.

Sometimes decision-makers are hesitant to invest in research. Maybe they think they can’t afford it. Or perhaps it’s because they’re pretty sure they know what their customers want with­out asking them.

Your brand strategy has to connect with cus­tomers to be effective, so a clear understanding of what they think of your products, services and the overall brand experience is important. Your chances of effectively positioning your brand for the future increase significantly if you include customer insight in the process.

You should also take the time to gather input from your employees. In most companies, the brand is communicated primarily through the actions and words of employees. Do your em­ployees understand what your brand is?

Here’s an easy way to find out. Ask all em­ployees to complete these sentences: We are__. We believe ___. We exist to ___ so clients _____.

Your people are the day-to-day manifestation of the brand. If they struggle to articulate the company’s value in an exercise like this where they have plenty of time to ponder, they are cer­tainly struggling to do so in the real world.

In addition to exploring customer and em­ployee perceptions, you need to take a close look at your company culture. Your brand has to re­flect the core beliefs of your organization. Study how your company operates, and make sure that internal processes and procedures are aligned with the brand. Look at everything from recruit­ing to orientation to performance reviews. Think about the emotional connections of your brand from the perspective of your employees, and make sure you’re engaging and inspiring them. If they aren’t, it will be much more difficult for them to help engage and inspire customers.

Consistency builds brands, so every encoun­ter with your brand – regardless of where it oc­curs – must contribute in a positive way. That means your employees have to understand their role in delivering the brand experience, your product has to live up to the promises you make in your marketing, your website has to have the same look and emotional feel as your brick-and-mortar locations and the tone and content of your Facebook posts have to be consistently aligned with your brand.

The nuances matter here, because most of us compete in very crowded marketplaces. There are a lot of companies targeting the same con­sumer, using the same selling propositions and approaches.

A powerful brand provides significant ad­vantages. While refreshing your brand can be a time-consuming and challenging process, if you get it right, you’ll see a positive impact on your bottom line.

Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. in Cedar Rapids and Le Claire. Contact her at