Does your brand need complete reinvention or just a little evolution?

Marketers can take steps to avoid being 'left behind' without wasting time, effort or expense on 'reinvention', says Nicholas Hall, head of marketing at Gocompare.com, in this month's Power 100 Voices column.

Does your brand need complete reinvention or just a little evolution?

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Within the marketing industry there is always a lot of talk about how marketers and the brands of which they are custodians need to ‘reinvent’ themselves to stay ‘ahead of the curve’. But what does this mean in the real world?

I’ve been with Gocompare.com since 2007, working with a small team of motivated individuals from across the business who established a new company and grew the brand from nothing to a household name in just a few years. In that time, I’ve seen huge change in the business, how the brand has evolved and, most importantly, consumer behaviour.

Has the brand needed to be reinvented during this period? No. Have I needed to reinvent myself during this period? No. But we have both evolved.

Over the past eight years much has changed, and, to keep pace with consumer demands and the market in which we operate, the key to success has been to regularly take a moment to pause, stand back from the all-consuming day job, and take a look around.

Reflection is important to all businesses. Listen, and ask the right questions

Reflection is important to all businesses – speak to your research and business insight teams to see whether your consumers’ behaviour has changed. Listen, and ask the right questions. Is my brand still relevant to my customers? Where are my sales coming from, or where are they going? Am I keeping pace with technological changes? Am I speaking to the right people, both within my organisation and outside?

Look at your business, advertising and brand KPIs – are they the right ones? We continually look at ours to make sure they stay relevant to our business goals.

Get your in-house and agency teams together, and ask just three simple questions. What are we doing well? What are we doing badly? What should we be doing differently? That’s all you need to keep on track and drive the business forward. Ask the same three questions every month; you’ll be pleasantly surprised what you get from the team.

‘Cool stuff’ fund

This year, we completely changed the way in which we plan our advertising, based on changing consumer habits. We are a brand that continually delivers industry firsts through being open and receptive to our media partners, such as Channel 4, ITV, Global and Facebook.

Keeping a small fund to do ‘cool stuff’ is vital. It doesn’t need to be much, but if you don’t have one, you’ll never be able to keep up with all the advances we’re seeing in marketing, and test a few things. Of course, not everything will work, but you’ll learn something each time.

If you are taking pauses and asking the right questions, you will be staying ahead of the curve

With so many new and emerging communications channels opening up for the modern marketer, it’s all too easy to get seduced by the perceived opportunities and lose sight of what marketing departments are there for – to move goods and services and generate profitable income. So, while experimentation is vital, it’s also crucial that the whole team remembers its core purpose.

What about staying ‘ahead of the curve’? Well, if you are taking pauses and asking the right questions, you will be, so you won’t ever need to doubt yourself on that one.

If it's not broken...

Will you ever need to truly reinvent your brand? Unless your products or services are in decline or being replaced – no. If you find a complete rebrand of a product is needed to open up more possibilities, then yes; the Lucozade brand repositioning is a good example of this.

Will you never need to reinvent yourself? Probably not, if you keep up to date with all the advances in marketing. However, if you just keep on doing the same thing you did yesterday, last week, last month, last year, then you will slowly lose touch with your consumers and inevitably have to play catch-up, using time that could be better spent elsewhere. I guarantee your customers will always be advancing – I recently witnessed my 85-year-old mother-in-law, playing Scrabble on her iPad, with her sister, who was in another city. I didn’t see that one coming.

The basics of marketing hold as true today as they did a century ago – it’s just a bit more complex now. Get your proposition in front of your customers and persuade them to buy something from you, and come back for more.

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