December 6, 2022

Look Before You Leap: Four Brand Evolution Tips

For many brands, a key to longevity is the ability to evolve. What works today may not work tomorrow.

To that end, much of our research at Coleman Insights relates to helping clients appropriately adapt and innovate by staying in touch with consumer tastes, behaviors, and perceptions. We’re studying music trends, talk/personality content, and distribution platforms.

Of course, evolutionary decisions are rarely easy and are often fraught with risk. As The Clash famously asked, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” As you contemplate taking your brand in a different direction, we encourage you to think through the following questions:

  1. Is there a sizable market for “the new thing”? Don’t change for the sake of change. Change because a data-driven analysis of the situation tells you that this change has the potential to be fruitful.
  2. Can you execute “the new thing” exceptionally well? Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean that you’re equipped to do it well (a.k.a., the not-everyone-can-be-a-world-class-athlete rule). Consumers have a lot of options, and they’re typically not looking for mediocrity.
  3. Can your brand become known for “the new thing”? You’ll have a hard time attracting those who may enjoy “the new thing” if they don’t know that your brand does “the new thing.” Consider what kind of competition is in the way, the pre-learned interference of existing perceptions of your brand, how to effectively communicate the new message, and whether you have the marketing resources necessary to cut through.
  4. Are you ok leaving “the old thing” behind? Change often comes with trade-offs, as you emphasize one thing at the expense of another. If you give something up, and a competitor fills the void, you may never get it back.
Facebook evolves brand into Meta

There are many examples of brand evolution, such as Facebook’s rebranding as Meta.

Now, let’s marry these questions with some real-world examples:

  1. If you’re a producer trying to decide among several topics that are not well covered by existing podcasts, do you know how appealing each is to potential listeners?
  2. If you want to launch a podcast about soccer, have you determined what your soccer podcast will do exceptionally well relative to the other soccer podcasts that already exist?
  3. If you are thinking about taking your Classic Hits station’s recipe deeply into the 90s, do you have a good marketing plan for developing the station’s image as a source of 90s music?
  4. If you’ve shifted your Top 40 station’s recipe substantially older in response to a downturn in the popularity of current music, are you comfortable with the possibility that your station’s image and usage as a source of current music is being diminished?

So look for ways in which innovation and evolution can benefit your brand, but do so through a strategic lens that takes into consideration the many factors that will play into the success or failure of your decision.

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