Your customers are talking about you—everywhere—and many times that leads to perceptions of brand that you didn’t account for.
So what do you do?
The short answer? It’s different for everyone (totally what you wanted to hear, right?) But you can learn from examples, which I’m good at providing.
So here are three to ponder with some suggestions for how to use them in your own business or company brand.
Example 1: Keep up the good vibration
I grew up listening to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (among other totally awesome late 80s and early 90s hip-hop groups and boy bands). You know the group leader as Mark Wahlberg who, around 1998, decided to retire from his music career and focus on acting.
If you paid much attention to him, you remember a little bit of a fall-out and a bad attitude as he turned to pursuing his career as an actor. He wanted nothing more to do with Marky Mark—but that who the public and his fans knew best. Interviews always included the “Marky Mark” questions and there were a few times when the 90s-hip-hop-star-turned-actor snapped answers at reporters and cut interviews short because he was uncomfortable with where questions were leading—back to his “old” brand.
Now, he’s moved on. Matured. Made fun of himself on a few Saturday Night Live sketches and joked with reporters and late-night hosts when asked about his “Marky Mark” days. But it took awhile.
If you are making the decision to change up your brand, understand the consequences and deal with them appropriately. If you have a great following and customer base where you’re at, realize that it will be hard for them to move on from the idea and perception they already have of you in your head. Educate them—politely—about your new vision and understand that it may take time for them to come around.
Example 2: Get spicy
Isaiah Mustafa (whom we all know as the Old Spice guy) is looking to change up his personal brand. He recently put a mock trailer together in hopes of getting Marvel’s attention to be cast in the role of Luke Cage.
Creative? Definitely. Will it work? Who knows. But in Mustafa’s mind, it was important to take the time and resources he had to take a stab at changing up his personal brand—to be taken seriously in a substantial acting role.
Taking risks can reap great rewards. Whether you choose to embrace the image your customers have of you (rather than keep the one you want them to have) or you’ve decided to rebrand on your own, don’t be afraid to make it splashy. In fact, sometimes that might be the best way to distinguish your difference and intrigue others to learn more.
Example 3: Embrace healthy, customer-initiated change
Many fast-food joints have started adding healthier options to their menus. Part of this is driven by different advocate groups and part is driven by customers. My point is, it didn’t come as a huge surprise when Burger King announced its plan to rebrand last week. The fast-food chain is taking an approach that is less focused on the “King” mascot and more focused on the restaurant’s food and creating healthier options for its customers.
Listen to the needs of your audience. Don’t stick with your brand image or key offerings if your customers are asking for change. Your competition will leave you in the dust. Sometimes you need to be the one to shake up your well-mastered plan. It’s scary, I know. But if your resources and research tell you that your current scenario isn’t working for you—shake it up!
And always keep your ROI (return on investment) top of mind. Is there a real need for change? Has your brand changed in the eyes of your customers and you didn’t even know it? And if so, just how much time can you afford to continue trying to change the minds of others versus embracing what you have become?
Think about it. Have a plan—and be ready to change it up if the time comes.