Modern consumers live in an age of constant change, where what was once current and popular can quickly become inessential and redundant. As a result, brands are continuously trying to remain relevant and fresh, with advances in technology only making this task even more difficult.
Take Canon as a case in point. Once having complete dominance in the photography space, the Japanese corporation recently reported that its profits tumbled by 20.5% due to less demand for digital cameras. No doubt this fall in demand was effectuated by the rise of smartphones featuring powerful cameras, such as the Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy series. With the need to instantly share experiences on social media becoming the norm, consumers see smartphones as a far more convenient alternative for taking photos. Subsequently, consumers had less reason to buy a digital camera especially when the price for a 22.3 mega pixel digital camera is almost triple that of a smartphone. As a result, Canon is in a position where its relevancy in the camera market is under the spotlight.
Reinvigorating brands and staying relevant is no new challenge, and not unique to Canon, and the solutions are numerous. Key principles range from CEO focus and how clarity of vision is communicated throughout an organisation, through to the agility of the company and its systems and the processes that enable its people to respond and redirect.
However, this article analyses this issue from a brand level. With this in mind, below are five key aspects brand guardians need to be aware of, in order to steer their brand during a period of “identity crisis.”
1. Know Yourself
A brand cannot hope to remain relevant if it doesn’t know itself. Brand managers need to understand a company’s competencies, what strengths it can play to and how far it is willing to reach out to gain new consumers. For example, a brand can form strategic partnerships in order to move into new territories whether these be technological or geographic, distribution, marketing or communications.
2. Know Who Your Consumer Is Today And Who Your Consumer Will Be In The Future
Identifying who will be your ambassador consumers, staying with you in the future, is key Knowing who your target consumer is today is fundamental in the short term but identifying who will be your ambassador consumers, staying with you in the future, is key for longer-term relevance. For example, personal finance and security companies would do well to track the seismic shift in freelance workers emerging – the needs of a home-based workforce that is about to explode, will have profound impact on the needs they have from their financial and data security companies. Personal finance and security companies can prepare for this now by engaging in conversations with consumers already in this space, so they can remain relevant and useful to their target segment.
3. Know What Is On The Horizon
The most fashionable people are often one step ahead of everyone else because they are not only aware of the latest trends, but are also informed of emerging trends. Brands should be no different. Brand managers must be knowledgeable of the current trends within their market place. This not only applies to macro trends, but also those that are relevant to the space a brand wishes to operate in and relevant to your desired consumers.
4. Be Bold With Your Own Technical Departments
Brands must constantly assess their technical departments to ensure they have the freedom to be innovative and creative. Where are they gaining their inspiration from? Are they being given a voice to define the future?
By analysing new technology with consumer insight, brands can develop products or services that they may not have initially known their consumers actually wanted. For example, who would have thought anyone would need an Apple Watch and it’s likely many focus groups dismissed the idea as simply “an iPhone on my wrist”. However, since its launch, many consumers cannot imagine how they ever managed without one.
5. Be Brave And Let Consumers Show You The Way
To redefine a brand and retain relevance requires bravery in letting the new generation of consumers lead the way, to a place you may not have full view of yet – but with collaboration and a whole-brain approach across marketing, insight, consumers and R&D, new paths yet trodden can be discovered.