There are generally two main reasons businesses update their brand look and message. The first is to “get caught up,” so to speak. They’ve experienced success in product or service sales over some time, and they realize the quality of their marketing doesn’t reflect that of their company’s current capabilities.
These businesses – that already have an appealing deliverable and captive audience – tend to do even better once they update the metaphorical packaging.
The other reason businesses overhaul their brands comes on much less promising terms. They do so to “right the ship.” Their product or service hasn’t quite made the splash they anticipated, so they focus on the first impression. Instead of addressing the deliverable’s weak points and adapting to meet market demands, they gloss over it with cosmetic flash.
I recently was reminded of this one Saturday morning. I was coming back from a run around my neighborhood when I stumbled over what appeared to be a concrete cinder block wrapped in plastic. On closer inspection, I saw it was the latest issue of a well-known phone book. The bag read something to the effect of, “Brighter new look and bigger layout.”
I thought long and hard about this statement before tossing the unopened package right into my recycling bin. I can’t imagine people NOT using this product due to its look or design. Rather, I envisioned people ditching it for something much more functional and relevant, like Google search.
Now back in the day, this product was the telecommunications lifeline to the outside world. However digital technology made its purpose obsolete. I wondered how many of these directories actually made it past my neighbors’ front doors. For the publisher’s sake, I hope many. However, judging by the following week’s trash pickup, the usage rate stunk. Will this be the last one, I thought? If so, is it valuable more from a collector’s standpoint?
That leads us to this observation: Even great branding can’t revive a product or service that unfortunately no one wants. To the print phone books of the world – and other products that just haven’t had traction –we’d say don’t invest money on making irrelevance look prettier. Instead, steer those dollars toward creating a deliverable or experience people crave. That’s brand development too… the internal kind that’s often the toughest but most rewarding in the end.