Brand relevance: Does it sell me-too products?


Brand relevance isn’t updating a logo. It’s part of your marketing strategy, having the capacity to drive markets and industries.

When Toronto passed a law to ban all plastic bags, it got me thinking, how many other brands are fighting to stay relevant in today’s environment?

For some products, like plastic bags, it can be tricky to re-establish its brand relevance with their most critical stakeholders. Let’s look at some of the factors that help reposition a brand and possibly maintain its market share.

Brand Relevance

Just like plastic bags, there are also mailing houses who are also trying to stay relevant in the age of the internet. It was only less than ten years ago where we as marketing professionals used direct mail service extensively, it was an essential and relevant marketing tactic.

Due to technology and environment movement, traditional direct marketing programs don’t appear to be relevant. Today, outside of our interest such as fashion magazines and bills, do we as a business need to add this service to our marketing plan?

The question is, should these brands develop a new message and change it’s the position? Difficult to do since the post office has limitations in developing new products. However, a brand needs a single message, a clearly defined position. It needs to stay consistent over time.

Brand Fatigue

Then we have some brands that are still relevant but suffer from fatigue, its image looks out-of-date and losing interest from its target audience. A perfect example is Old Spice. Their current advertising is a reminder, a top-of-mind campaign that Old Spice brand is still around. A spicy advertising program even though the company didn’t change its fragrance blend.

Some non-for profits are suffering from brand fatigue with Gen Y and millennials.  A perfect example is the YMCA, whose services haven’t changed much over the years. However, Pop Sugar and HASFit are taking over the fitness industry offering free fitness classes on YouTube.

At this point, repositioning of its brand would mean new innovative product introduction, like a fitness app and bring on fitness influencers or brand ambassadors to help connect with a younger target base, all this without losing its original foundation of why this non-for-profit organization came about.

Define New Brand Position

Some brands struggle to gain market share in their industry. Many will heavily promote product features, offer pricing discounts or remove quality customer service. Staying brand relevant doesn’t always mean new technologies or introducing a new product.

What brand should look at is to move into a new category or brand position. The secret here is the brand needs to own and lead this new brand positon. In other words, you’re not better, faster or cheaper. Your brand is in its own brand category where no competitor can match.

Digital & New Technologies

Other brands need to up their game when it comes to technologies. Not keeping pace with new shopping behaviour, developing more sales channels or investing in the right technology for your business will hurt your brand relevance.

Take a look at JCrew; they have the most incredible customer service staff to help you find something if you can’t find a particular piece of clothing you like on their website. If I sound biased, it’s because I am and their customer service staff is impeccable. They offer newsletters and an e-commerce platform. They recently hosted a private fashion show on Pinterest! Finally, they provide multiple ways to shop, telephone, online and brick and mortar.

As you can see, digital media offers opportunities for a brand to stay relevant and in the Pinterest example, personalize the message to the consumer. Digital media has proven to be a cost-effective marketing tool with the ability to go after specific customer segments.  If you’ve ever tried Facebook advertising, you can also drill down to cities.

Staying relevant means listening to your customer, understanding market and technology trends and keeping an eye on your competition. Easy, right?

Social Communications With Your Community

Probably the biggest challenge today is social media and the ability to understand the level of communication, human connection and engagement your audience has and expects from your brand.

I am one that advises companies to take it slow.  If you don’t have the staff, just use one platform and do it well. Why?

Because we don’t know where social media is heading and quite frankly if I would take an example of today to see in the future, social media is taking an ugly turn with cyberbullying, twitter attacks on brands (McDonald’s, Labatt) and a lot of empty posts that are making us isolated.

Brand Message Cohesion

Lastly, ensure that all you do regarding digital marketing fits with your brand message and with your target audience. When creating your digital campaigns, make the message-first approach and leverage the strengths of different digital marketing channels. For example, the website can be used as a primary channel to build brand equity while secondary channels like Google AdWords will complement the central channel in the area of reach and frequency.

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