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Handle your brand with care: 10 ways to get out of a rut

Your brand is in a rut. A stuck-on-the-bottom and not-moving-up-anytime-soon rut. Maybe your customers no longer want you as a friend; or maybe they’ve simply fallen for something shinier and newer.

How do brands end up in this position anyway? Easily, if they’re complacent, over-confident, shortsighted or blindsided. Very rarely does a brand that relies solely on price in a defensive strategy succeed. It can be a trip-and-fall from losing touch with the customer, like making errors or penning policies that cost the channel money. Regardless, it’s fix or fail.

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t have to stay this way. Even a first step in the right direction can help change a brand’s entire course, and help you win back the affection and trust of customers.

Here’s a checklist of 10 things you should think about when you need to get your brand back on track:

  1. Assess your brand’s strength. Even if it’s troubled, it may have more equity than you know, and that can provide a firm foundation for change
  2. Face the facts with brutal honesty. Assess the situation with all the emotion of an IRS agent. Err to the downside and develop the situational analysis accordingly.
  3. Communicate with key stakeholders. Without imperiling the company/brand, address the situation with key stakeholders, which could also be customers, even if you don’t have answers to all the questions or solutions to all the problems, don’t hide away. Commit to working on the problem(s) and follow through.
  4. Show customers you care. Demonstrate understanding and empathy. Show that you have calculated the impact on them and that you’re working to fix it.
  5. Be honest, clear and consistent. If you need to change direction, then explain why clearly and stick to the course.
  6. Find the right solution. What do you need to do to alleviate the pressure and elevate the brand’s position? Be cautious of starry eyes; do only what you can achieve realistically. Apply the same brutal honesty to your solution as you did for understanding why you got there in the first place.
  7. Stay committed. Announce the solution and implementation plan only when you are absolutely certain you can deliver on the promises and when you are assured a commitment from leaders, the board of directors, etc.
  8. Execute the plan as flawlessly as possible. If something gets messed up, own it and fix it. Never preach perfection.
  9. In developing your solution plan, make sure you include metrics. Whether it’s measuring the number of complaints or compliments, distributor conversions, unique website visits, or NPS, attach relevant KPIs and report on them regularly to all stakeholders.
  10. Get leadership buy-in. If leaders aren’t in, you’re out. Business and brand leadership must not only be on board, they must also be vocal supporters and active participants. When the shades are down in the corner office, employees and customers become skeptics. 

Clearly, this isn’t an instant springboard out of the pits, but at the very least, it’s a thought-starter to help move a troubled brand back in the right direction.

John Favalo is a managing partner at integrated marketing firm Eric Mower + Associates and member of the agency’s specialty marketing group EMA Buildings & Construction.