Even Top Brands Need to Keep Reinventing Themselves

So far, your brand might have withstood the test of time. But don’t assume because you have a strong customer base today that you can simply kick back and reap the benefits into the future.

Customers are far less steadfast in their devotion than they were two years ago. Throughout the pandemic, McKinsey reported that three-quarters of people in the U.S. have tested out new stores, brands or ways of purchasing, for instance. Whether by design or happenstance (the supply chain has undergone tremendous disruption, after all), buyers sampled the buffet. And you can bet that plenty of them will stick with the new “dishes” they discovered.

This doesn’t mean you have to completely reinvent your company from vision statement to logo to meet customer preferences. If you have a strong mission and vision, that should be the foundation. But as customers evolve, brands also need to evolve so their messaging is in line with customers. Why? Because there’s always a competitor waiting in the wings to collect market share. Plenty of brands have been surprised by unexpected contenders who were able to enter with more relevant positioning.

Think Salesforce taking over Siebel’s market share, for example. Siebel, once the leader among CRMs, failed to innovate and adopt cloud computing in its product, giving Salesforce the opportunity to swoop in and steal Siebel’s customers.

Evolution is what being a remarkable and leading brand is all about. You don’t have to change your core promise to your customer – and you probably shouldn’t. But you don’t want to turn stale, either. Instead, you need to keep innovating after conducting market analyses, exploring emerging technologies, and keeping one eye on the competition in your sector.

How can you get started with a minor or major reinvention project to keep your brand fresh and top of mind for new and existing customers? Try these tips:

Solidify Your Corporate Purpose and Goals

Before embarking on a reinvention, give your internal culture and corporate vision a shake. You want to be clear about who you are as a business as well as who your audience is. What do you stand for? And what makes your brand truly stand out among your competitive set?

Understanding your anchoring purpose will help you resonate on a deeper level with customers. In fact, 78% of people studied by Porter Novelli were more likely to remember brands with well-defined purpose statements. Nearly as many participants (72%) agreed that they’d be loyal to a purpose-driven brand.

What’s the bottom line here? Have clarity around the wider arc of your vision as a company, even during a reinvention. After all, if you’re unclear about your brand, your customers won’t connect with your company even after you make changes.

Make Any Branding Shifts Consistent

Some brands stand out more than others, such as Adobe, Squarespace, Google, and HubSpot. Part of their success is that they don’t stray too far from their basic identity, and they stay clearly focused on who they are while still reinventing themselves for the next generation.

The last thing you need is brand confusion, and the way to avoid confusing customers is to showcase consistency in all you do. Our company recently redesigned some of our labels as part of an evolutionary branding overhaul. In doing so, we made sure we acknowledged our heritage, but adapted it in a way that speaks to today’s customers — all while creating a new look and feel that is consistent across our product portfolio.

Be sure to check out your competition’s branding, too. You want to ensure that your identity is ownable by your brand and is clearly differentiated from competitive brands.

Base Each Final Decision on Customer Research

Customer research is an invaluable piece of the puzzle, so always get in touch with your biggest cheerleaders for feedback before finalizing any branding. Certainly, this requires time and money. In the long run, however, it saves you from delivering the right message to the wrong audience or the wrong message to the right audience.

Of course, you have to be willing to listen to the responses you get from customers. You can’t please everyone, but if you end up with tons of pushback from your target audience on a proposed rebrand or reinvention, you might want to take a mindful pause. High Speed Training, a virtual training provider for hospitality industry compliance and safety, offers an example of a brand that does customer research right. The company conducts research for its clients to help them solve the biggest challenges the hospitality industry faces.

There’s little doubt that evolving is important for brands – even well-known and well-established ones. Just be patient throughout the reinvention process and subsequent rollouts. It takes time to change customers’ perceptions, and the data might not suggest much needle movement at first. If you’ve made decisions with these strategies in mind, you will ultimately see the results.


  • Shari Matras

    Shari Matras is the chief growth officer for Jelmar, a family-owned cleaning products manufacturer of CLR and Tarn-X products. She has spent more than 30 years leading businesses of various revenue sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 organizations such as Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and Wrigley.

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