May 6, 2019

Top 5 Warning Signs of Declining Brand Health

Your brand, like a patient, requires regular checkups.

A bit of a cliché comparison, I know, but stay with me. Because just like a patient, the sooner you identify a problem with your brand, the easier it is to treat it. Conversely, if you ignore the warning signs, unchecked symptoms can grow into much larger concerns that could result in new problems that otherwise could have been avoided.

Just like a human life, the life of your brand is extremely important. After all, it’s “THE” thing that defines who you are as an organization and why people choose you. So, to keep your brand healthy, think like a patient. Make sure you’re doing regular checkups on your brand. If anything looks suspicious, take action.

How To Spot Symptoms

Unlike illnesses in our own bodies, spotting potential problems in your brand can be a bit more difficult. That’s why we’ve identified 5 leading indicators that can alert you to potential business problems on the horizon.

1. The Numbers Are Down

Market-share scores are important. But by the time you receive them, it might be too late.

And if you rely on them too much, you could be too far behind financially to correct the ship. So before you analyze market share numbers, look at your Net promotor scores (NPS). It’s great to get an understanding of willingness to recommend as this is an indication of customer experience – a major part of your brand. It’s also an early predictor of repeat purchase and potential shifts in customer lifetime value (CLV). HCAHPS Scores are public but delayed. Using your own customer satisfaction scores will help you identify changes in NPS much sooner.

However, if you truly want to start at the root of the problem, check your Employee (and Physician) Engagement scores. These may be the best early indicator available, especially if you’re in the service sector of healthcare as compared to health products.

2. A  Competitor Challenges your Position

The competition never sleeps. So when a rival makes a substantial investment in a service or product line, launches a new facility or expands, take a step back and look to see how these activities may challenge your overall marketplace position.

Will the competitor’s action make your unique selling proposition, or brand promise, less compelling to your audiences? Will their action offer superior consumer value? Are they betting on a major trend that you have yet to figure out how to leverage?

Obviously, not every competitive action should cause alarm or result in you questioning your brand strategy. However, conducting a regular competitive analysis can keep you abreast of their larger intentions. Monitoring consumer perceptions of your brand relative to competition as well as your own competitive insights will inform your competitive strategy.

3. Your Brand No Longer Reflects Who You Aspire To Be

Great companies have a clear vision, and their people are always marching toward it. However, sometimes their brand can get left behind.

Most often we see this occur when organizations are mid-way through a multi-year strategic plan. New initiatives have started to come online and the organization begins to evolve into a new version of itself. This may look like serving a new customer base, forming new business partnerships or adding new services to your patients. These and other initiatives can create a wonderful new you, but has your brand platform been adjusted accordingly?

Take a moment and put everything on the table. Evaluate your mission and vision. Do they accurately align with your current strategic plans and marketplace conditions? Does your brand help accelerate you toward your vision? Is your brand promise (and tagline) still relevant, and does it accurately define how you uniquely deliver value to your audiences? Does your logo, graphic identity and other visual tools create the image of your desired future state?

4. Missed Opportunities With New Service Or Product Launches

Not every new product or service warrants a major rebrand. But some, especially those that are innovative, offer a natural opportunity to consider brand implications. For instance, when Apple introduced the iPhone, it knew it was finally time to drop “Computer” from its name. Similarly, if you are launching a game-changing product or service into your market, it could be time to re-examine your brand. Or at least consider how this new product may improve your brand story or act as a proof point for your brand promise.

Over the years, we have helped many healthcare clients become first to market with advanced technologies and procedures like robotics, TAVR, MitraClip, etc., as well has helping them launch a new hospital, or major new facility expansion. More often than not, we used these opportunities to refresh parts of the brand platform or launch a major brand campaign. These situations give you a unique opportunity to clarify or reshape perceptions on how your brand delivers value.

5. You Are Having A Difficult Time Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

The success of your organization is directly related to the quality of the people working for your organization. But top talent can choose to work anywhere. So why should they choose to work for you? Clearly defining your brand vision, what you stand for and how you uniquely deliver value to your patients builds a culture that is unique to you. It provides insight for candidates and sets expectations on how working with your organization will fit in with their personal values and professional goals. Living your brand promise on a day-to-day basis will demonstrate your commitment to delivering on your brand vision, further building employee trust, mutual commitment and retention.

If you are having difficulty keeping and attracting top talent, take a look at your brand vision. Is it clear? Is it still credible? Can employees see themselves as part of the brand? Are there measurable ways for them to help deliver on the brand promise, and are they celebrated when they do?

Diagnosis? Regular Checkups

Just like patients, brands don’t always make the smartest decisions for their long-term health. And whether it’s brand or patient, they wind up paying the price—physically and financially.  

Doctors tell patients to act sooner rather than later. And the same is true for brands. If you don’t monitor the health of your brand, and more importantly act on the symptoms, you run the risk of waiting until it’s too late.

Eventually, both humans and brands run the risk of running out of time, opportunity and money, all potentially resulting in a flatline.

Remember, your brand is the most powerful business tool you have to help you succeed in the marketplace—so keep it healthy.