08May, 2014

Seven Disciplines to Keep a Brand Youthful

imagesBy Indira Abidin

A few years ago, who was not familiar with the famous names of ILP and Primagama? Yet unfortunately, ILP is now not on the first page of google search on “English course” due to its competitors’ domination, while Primagama is no longer sonorous along with the financial cases that afflicted them. In telecommunications, we are familiar with the story of Nokia and Blackberry that are now faded as the bright smiles of Samsung and Apple spread.

A brand does have age and cycle. A brand that is loved today may be aging and dead. There are so many brands that have been collapsed and we never hear of them anymore now. Many brands were booming and then felt that the glory was a sure thing or they had “taken it for granted”. They forgot that the world is changing, consumers are changing, the industry is changing and competitors are changing. Since they forgot that they also had to change, they were then crushed in the competition. There are many brands that are observant and quickly aware of what is happening; they get up before they die. But there are also some that are not strong enough to keep up with the times. Many of those that can not survive are eventually lost in time just as Robert Frost’s poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Do all old brands have to be aging and eventually die? Let ‘s look at Mc Donald, Coca Cola, Lifebuoy, Lux, Softex, that we know since we were kids and yet they still appear youthful, sleek and alluring until now. Not to mention Nyonya Meneer that is still the most powerful family business in Indonesia since being established in 1919 and has expanded in various countries in the world. Nyonya Meneer remains sleek and attractive in its segment, in line with its age. So a brand can continue to be youthful as long as the brand owner regularly conducts rejuvenation.

Well now what are the secrets to keeping our franchise brand youthful like the brands mentioned above?

Discipline to listen.

It is important to be a listening brand. Listen to consumers, read their needs carefully and thoroughly, what implicitly and explicitly shows up in their conversations. Digital listening tools now allows us to learn and analyze customer conversations 24 hours a day, so we will always understand the position of our brand, how we lead, the needs of consumers and markets we have or haven’t fulfilled, our competitors movements, and the dangers posed ahead. All the above becomes the ground for determining the innovation strategy that allows us to perform youthful and “fresh” at any time in accordance with the dynamics of the consumers, the markets, and the industry. Do you want to look youthful but are unwilling to be a listening brand? Just forget it.  

Discipline to build brand strategies

Based on the insights as the result of our listening, either through digital listening tools or regular quantitative and qualitative research, we will be able to find the gap between our goals and our true position in the market, in the hearts of consumers and in everyday conversation. From there we need to determine the direction of brand development and then build brand strategies. Determine the strategies of the brand essence, positioning, roadmaps and generate them into a variety of management and communication strategies.

Discipline to build alignment with brand management

Create alignment between brand values and the various aspects of management such as innovation strategy, human capital, finance, CSR, distribution, marketing and communications. A strong brand is born from a strong and responsive management and in tune with the brand values.  

Discipline on communication investment

In People Relations, it is no longer enough for a brand to communicate only through advertisements and events. There are no more seasonal campaigns every few months that were usually done in the past. Now it takes a 24/7 engagement to ensure we thrive in our customers’ heart and exist in various conversations for 24 hours. If we are distracted even just a bit, consumers may turn to other brands. So beware.  

Discipline to build emotional closeness

Brands can no longer rely solely on the functional aspects in engaging consumers. Our consumers are not rational and they are currently enjoying the greetings of various brands from various industries. A brand should be able to captivate consumers through emotional closeness.  

Discipline to innovate

Innovation is the key to success for a brand to look youthful at all time. Look for ideas and innovation through various chatters and research results that we hear every day. Determine what the competitors’ “unmet needs” and make use of various loopholes to look unique and beautiful in every period.   Remember also that having R & D (Research and Development) is not enough anymore. A brand also needs to perform C & D (Connect and Develop).  

Discipline to evaluate

In each stage, a brand needs to continue to undertake an evaluation of the various activities conducted in order to build brand strength. The various disciplines above need to be evaluated to ensure the effectiveness and the brand strength to continue to lead in captivating consumers.

So, which disciplines have you built for your brand? Which disciplines haven’t you built? What opportunities will open wider if you can carry out the above seven disciplines?

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