Once a customer’s mind is made up about a brand it’s next to impossible to change it. No doubt, change is hard.
Humans resist change until they absolutely have to. Like a bad habit, you won’t kick it until it threatens your very existence. So it is with changing a brand’s perception in the minds of customers.
Marketers embarking on the journey of brand transformation must recognize it’s an inside-out process not for the faint of heart.
Brands become what they have proven themselves to be. Mental perceptions are hardened by experience. People can’t form new perceptions without a new experience. Like the chicken or the egg, what comes first?
Brand owners are the first to resist change.
There is a long period of denial before brand owners will change their own thinking. It can take years of sales declines before brand owners will wake up and deal honestly with a brand that is losing ground. This is especially true of iconic brands that once were leaders.
There’s a sense of complacency that cripples organizational action. Long before the cash starts drying up, iconic brands lose relevancy and customers. It’s hard to see this happening in real time.
The dynamics of organizational thinking tend to favor the status quo.
If you’re going to change customer’s perceptions about your brand, the process begins by changing from within.
For many brand owners, the default button for changing brand perception is a new ad agency, creating a different slogan or new ad campaign. Truth is, saying it’s so won’t make it so.
Customer’s perceptions only change through a changed experience.
For customers, experiencing new advertising (assuming they’re even paying attention) can never be a substitute for experiencing new and more relevant value from your brand.
Meaningful change in brand perceptions first requires honest internal assessment and deep introspection. This is difficult for brand teams to do these days– especially when their performance is judged by management on a quarterly basis.
Business leaders are hyper-focus on the urgent work (running the business) rather than the important work (creating new value that represents a bigger future).
The first question that requires a solid answer is “what must change within our organization that will enable us to create a greater experience of value our customers will care about”?
You can’t begin the journey of changing outside perceptions without internal clarity, confidence and consensus on what defines a more relevant value proposition and why it will continue matter and move people to believe its thee one and only choice for them.
If your business / brand where gone tomorrow, would anybody care?
Assuming you (and your team) have the necessary internal clarity, confidence and consensus about what must change, and where the greatest opportunities for success are found, there are only two strategic options to consider.
More to come in Part II
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