How to Notice When Your Brand is Dying

Too many people toil away building a business only to get a small taste of success and then watch it all slip away. But why? How come so many seemingly successful business end up fading away?

I would argue that very often business owners don’t recognize the signs of their dying brand. Maybe they don’t know what to look for. Maybe they’re just so caught up with the day to day operations that they fail to take notice. Whatever the case, it’s essential that you are aware and watchful for the symptoms of a sickly brand.

“Brand” Defined

So how can you learn from the mistakes of others and keep your business—and brand—afloat? Well before I can answer that for you, you need to have a good understanding of what a brand actually is. My definition can be put in the form of a simple equation:

Words + Images + Awareness = Emotion

And emotion leads to profits.

Here’s how it works. First you put pen to paper and find the words that describe exactly what your company stands for. Then you create images to visually communicate those words to your clients and make them aware of your message. As a result, these clients and potential customers experience an emotional response to your company and become loyal, paying customers. Or at least, that’s what happens with a healthy brand.

The Signs That Your Brand is Fizzling Out

Now if you’re brand isn’t healthy, your company is in trouble. Period. You’re at risk of losing it all. That said, you need to know the signs that your brand is on its death bed so you can take action quick. Here are a few things to keep a lookout for:

  • You’re hemorrhaging repeat customers. When you’re connecting on an emotional level, customers keep coming back. But once they stop coming back, you have a problem. It’s like a local bank I used to bank with. For the longest time, I was happy with their service and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else. But then they failed to keep up with the changing times and the larger chain banks that were coming into town. I grew frustrated with the bank and eventually made the move to a larger one. Along with who-knows-how-much of their customer base. Guess whose brand is in trouble? There’s. Do they realize it? Maybe now, but they certainly didn’t do anything about it before I left.
  • Your best employees are trying their luck elsewhere (and you just can’t seem to replace them). There are two things going on here. First of all, some of your top team members are opting to try their luck elsewhere. Not good. Maybe they’re going to the competition, which shows they’ve lost faith in your brand and think they can do better elsewhere. And if the top guys have lost faith, you know it will do (negative) wonders for the rest of your staff.

    Now typically when you lose a top guy for a legitimate reason, you can do a bit of work and find a replacement. If your brand is thriving, this shouldn’t be difficult at all. In fact, people in your industry will be dying to work for you. But if you find the application and resume stream drying up—well, your brand is choking.
  • You’re having difficulty bringing in new customers. A healthy brand is one that is connecting and resonating with new customers. In other words, you won’t have trouble finding new business if things are going the way they should. As soon as you find yourself hitting the wall, not getting any nibbles on the fishing line—take notice.
  • Simply put, customers no longer see you as one of the best choices in your field. I can think of a million examples of this one off the top of my head. Let’s start with MySpace. Remember when their name was on the tip of everyone’s tongue? But now, if you ask any random person to name their social network of choice, MySpace won’t be anywhere on the list. They couldn’t keep up with what Facebook was offering, and their user loyalty to their brand diminished.

The bottom line here is this—you have to know the signs that things are heading downhill and be vigilant. Otherwise you may find yourself waking up one day with no clients and no employees. If you can quickly identify the symptoms of a sickly brand, you can make the necessary moves to nurse it back to health.

I’m out of time here, but stay tuned for my follow up—what action to take once you’ve diagnosed your dying brand.

About The Author

Brian Waraksa

Brian Waraksa, founder of Raxa Design in Houston, Texas has been in marketing and small business branding since 2002. He writes the Raxa Design blog on issues affecting small business marketing and corporate brands.

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