Getting Your Brand Fighting Fit


The research has spoken.  Your brand is performing well below acceptable levels, and that’s hurting sales and business performance – it’s time to overhaul it into something new and fresh!

Wait a minute.

Is your brand that out of shape or crippled that surgery is the only viable option?  Or, as if often the case, would a short stint in boot camp trim the fat, build the strength, and instil the discipline required for your brand to drive business forward?

Just because your brand doesn’t seem to be producing results, it isn’t a sure sign that it needs to go.  Sometimes, it’s just a case of poor execution – which is something you can definitely fix with a little elbow grease and the right brand fitness plan.

To set up a brand plan, we first need to establish a performance baseline, similar to how a personal trainer would put you through your paces when you first start a new program.  This baseline exam should be a constructive, positive experience, not a fault finding mission.  Sure, you are looking at where your brand is struggling, but you’re also looking at what it does well.  And with each weakness you discover, it means you have found another way you can improve.

There is a chance that, at this point, you may come to the realisation that putting your brand out to pasture and starting anew is your best option.  And, that’s fine.

But, while you send your old brand off ‘to the farm,’ keep the results of its baseline exam handy.  The brand may be done for, but understanding where it was working and where it fell apart can be valuable in the development of your future (and future-proofed) brand.  It will help you to avoid previous mistakes and further excel in your most successful areas.

Now, let’s get back to the situation at hand – a brand that, with a little help, can be brought back to a competitive level.

With athletes, the difference between winning and losing, being good and being world-class, is often their mindset.  And I believe the same goes for brands.  Are you pretending to be a certain way because it will allegedly get customers onboard, or do you truly believe?  Do your staff – your potential brand champions – believe?  Have you be trying to mimic the thoughts of your ‘target’ audience, or have you gone out and found an audience that your brand resonates with?

If those behind the brand don’t believe in it, no one ever will. If they don’t understand it, no one ever will. Just as a world champion needs to visualise that moment of winning, your brand champions need to be able to visualise a brand promise successfully (over-)delivered.

To fix a broken brand mindset, ask yourself: Do we value the right things?  Are we in it for the right reasons?  Are we walking the walk, not just talking it?  Are we communicating things clearly?

Many times, it’s a matter of communication, rather than incorrect values or audience.  So, once you have that winning mindset, it’s time to work on strengthening your core.  And, for a brand, this means how your brand is being communicated – visually, verbally, and physically.

While a brand is only as good as its promise delivery, don’t lose sight of the fact that it first needs to communicate that promise.  And this is where your branding comes into play.  For me, your brand is the promise you make; your branding is how you communicate that promise.  Your visual identity, tone of voice, brand scripts, and key messages – these form your core.  And, as any trainer will tell you, the stronger your core, the better off you are.

How do you build core brand strength?  With consistency, quality training, and repetition of those ‘exercises’ that resonate most for your brand.

With strength training being a pillar of success, let us not overlook another major boon for modern brand marketers – maximising agility.  Strength alone will limit you to focusing on one tactic, hoping to overpower the competition.  Once you add agility to the mix, you open up the brand and marketing playbook and utilise the entire playing field (as well as your entire team).

One key thing to keep an eye on here is finding the right balance between brand consistency and agility.  It is possible to be consistent and quite agile at the same time, similar to working the same muscle group on the same day every week, using a different exercise.  The consistency will help build strength and keep you on target for your growth goals; while hitting those muscles from different angles, challenging them, and adjusting to more effective techniques, will power you towards your goals that much faster.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to stretch and take a breath.  Those small moments of rest between brand communications are opportune times to reflect on how it ‘felt,’ what sort of gains you can expect, and how you can improve it the next time around.

One-size-fits-all is definitely not an option here.  Every brand needs to look at what areas of brand communication are of extra importance to them.  A marathon runner focuses on different training aspects than a sprinter, a boxer’s day-to-day regime differs significantly from a powerlifter’s, and a digital-first brand based in Germany needs a vastly different training and execution plan than a primarily in-person brand experience delivered in New Zealand.

Where is your biggest competition?  Who is your audience – and where do they want to hear from you?  What innate ‘talents’ does your brand have – and how can you harness those to stand out from the crowd?

The final (and a vital) piece of your brand’s journey back to world-class status is to have someone to watch over it.  Be it a coach, trainer, or training buddy, any world champion will tell you that you can’t do it alone – you need a support team.  For a brand, this means having a support crew in place to help your various functions to understand, communicate and deliver on the brand promise as effectively as possible.

The make-up and size of this team will vary from organisation to organisation – they may even be external experts, brought in to ‘take your squad to the big game’.  What is important here, is that they understand your brand (intimately), can communicate it well, and have the ability to look at your organisation and develop a game plan that works towards its strengths.

With the right boot camp regiment, almost any brand can regain its fighting fitness. Instead of needing to ‘cut your losses’ and start from scratch in the future, develop a game plan now and work towards a long term, fit and healthy brand.