With all the focus on brand naming and recall, brand image, and top-of-mind placement, it can be easy to forget that good branding isn’t the only thing that matters to a business.
An organization can’t rely on the strength of its branding alone. Even large, international brand names with excellent reputations stumble and fall—and make a larger splash because of their size. An excellent brand does not automatically guarantee excellent performance. In fact, it’s more commonly the other way around. There are many other factors to consider when driving a company to success:
Kodak dominated the photography and imaging business for decades, and its name continues to be closely associated with cameras and still photos. But that reputation didn’t keep it from filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect its assets.
Good Branding helps influence sales, yes. But it’s not the sole driver. You still need talented sales people to pound the pavement, and an excellent product to place in the customers’ hands. Without those two key elements, your brand will be just a wistful memory several years down the road.
A good customer experience can be much more valuable to a company’s long-term health than a good brand. Ask BlackBerry, who suffered from a couple of major service-related incidents and is struggling to please users with its new smartphone models. Angry users are walking away and going to rival platforms such as the iPhone and the Android. BlackBerry is not out of the running yet, but every service hiccup is makes it more difficult for them to regain their former status as a major communications competitor.
As you trumpet your company’s virtues to the market and media, make sure that, behind the scenes, your customers are being taken care of to their satisfaction and that your products are working as advertised. Negative press like that has a way of sticking to your brand like mud and ruining all of your marketing efforts.
Building a good brand is hard enough, but what happens if you’re going up against much bigger fish? Established competitors with larger names and larger budgets can cram the media with ads and hold numerous events, making it difficult for your company to be noticed amidst all the noise.
The beauty about doing business in the modern age is that brands have so many other options when it comes to promoting themselves. Start grass-roots social media campaigns and viral campaigns featuring unique aspects of your product. The Internet and modern communication allow you to tell potential customers how unique and different you are, without needing to spend millions on air time.
Today, business are scrutinized, not just for their brands and products, but for their behavior as corporate entities as well. Public scandals have caused the demise of many businesses, and stem from personal foibles such as affairs, crime, and poor customer service skills, as well as corporate decisions such as malicious business practices and ties with unsavory organizations.
Keep your company as clean as possible by implementing and enforcing rules on employee performance and conduct, customer policies, and strict accounting policies. The best way of avoid damage from these kinds of scandals is to not have them in the first place.
Markets are constantly shifting, and one era’s giant could be tomorrow’s cripple. Nothing exemplifies this more than Tower Records. This music retail powerhouse faltered as digital music distribution caught on and made music CDs obsolete. This drastic technological and market shift caused opportunities for new growth and new businesses, but it was a serious blow to the CD-reliant Tower Records.
It pays to be ahead of the curve when it comes to your products and services. Conduct regular market research and stay abreast of the latest technological and cultural developments. Doing so won’t guarantee your safety in a drastic market shift, but it will help you navigate it better. Who knows, you may even be able to come out on top.