When your brand faces poor external results with a decline in sales, shrinking market share, and lower profit margins due to lower prices or rising costs, the brand leader needs to create a turnaround plan that will fix it.
From my experience with a brand turnaround, you will need both a short-term and long-term fix. The quick fix helps address the hemorrhaging results that are impacting the bottom line of the company.
However, most fix it situations have a more in-depth cause, hidden beneath the surface level. You will need a change management leadership style that challenges everyone and everything. You will need a new plan, which includes a new vision filled with new ideas. Explore the need for different people to join the team. Losing can be contagious to the culture of a team. You will need to create a new attitude.
Address your brand situation before you make your next move
In our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks, we outline four distinct situations your brand could face:
- Fuel the momentum
- Fix it
Apply the right strategy and leadership to the right situation you face
When business results are healthy, fuel your momentum by staying on course and attacking small weaknesses. When things are going well, everyone within your organization will resist a change plan. When the external results are abysmal, your management team will look for opportunities to turn around those results quickly. They will be impatient. Manage the short-term and long-term fix it plans at the same time. When different silos operate entirely autonomously within your organization, it causes unnecessary conflict and confusion that holds your brand back from maximizing its full potential. Build a realignment plan to get everyone moving in the same direction. Whether you are in an entrepreneurial start-up or entering into a new business from within a corporation, follow the plan for a start-up.
Start with a deep-dive business review
Before moving towards a brand turnaround, you must fully understand the situation you face. Each year, conduct a deep-dive business review to assess the health of your branded business. A smart brand strategy is a smart business strategy. You are running a live business, with a need to drive sales, manage costs, and produce profits. Without addressing the competitive and consumer factors you face, all your great strategic thinking will come collapsing down around you.
Dig in on the five specific sections—marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand—to draw out conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.
The business review should help you understand the underlying causes happening in the market. Evaluate changing consumers needs, new competitors, changes in the retail landscape, and changes in technology. Close leaks using a brand funnel analysis. Go through every investment decision. Cut all spending that fails to drive results and reinvest in the new plan. Invest only in programs that give you an early breakthrough win and payback. Once you have the plan in place, make sure you have the right talent in place to make it happen.
Read more on how to conduct a business review:
The brand turnaround plan
- Assessment indicators: Poor external results, declining sales, shrinking profitability, falling share position, and losing competitive battles.
- Strategy: Quick wins stop declines. Dig in deep to find underlying causes. Need long-term fixes for communication, innovation, selling and in-store
- Leadership style to engage: Use a transformational change management style to challenge everything and everyone.
- Target market
- Main consumer benefit
- An organizing brand idea
- Articulation of the brand idea for each function
- Brand vision
- Brand purpose and values
- Shared goals
- Key issues
- Execution plans and activities you will invest in
The quick fix plan
For any brand turnaround quick fix can buy you time with management to implement what you see as the longer-term fix it plan. Any immediate wins also give the team a much-needed boost of motivation.
- Find early, and obvious potential wins to stop the hemorrhaging.
- Emphasize results to fuel a performance-driven culture.
- Use all early wins to boost team motivation.
- Celebrate every victory, big or small.
- Eliminate wasteful spend, low margin or resource draining projects
Invest in a brand idea that is supported by a unique brand positioning
To kickstart your brand turnaround, you need a brand positioning statement focuses on the consumer target your brand will serve and the emotional and functional benefits your brand will stand for. If you don’t position your brand the way you want, then your customers and competitors will do it for you, and you might not like their answers. A smart brand positioning statement should narrow the target to those consumers who are most capable of loving what the brand does. With your consumer in mind, your brand positioning should find the ideal balance between functional and emotional benefits.
Thoughts on bringing the brand positioning statement together:
- Who is your consumer target? Keep your target definition focused. Never go after two target markets at the same time. Bring the target to life with need states, consumer insights, and a consumer enemy.
- Where will you play? Define the space you play in, measuring it against those brands you compete with.
- Where will you win? Narrow your benefit down to one thing. Never try to stand for too many things at once—whether too many functional benefits or too many emotional benefits. You cannot be all things to all people. Make sure you talk benefits, not features. The ideal space must be unique and motivating to the consumers while being ownable for your brand.
- Why should they believe us? The role of support points is to resolve any potential doubts the consumer might have when they see your main benefit. Ensure these support points are not just random claims or features that you want to jam into your brand message. They should support and fit with the main benefit.
To read more on brand positioning:
Build a new brand plan that everyone can follow
When engaging a brand turnaround, you should build a smart brand plan that gets everyone in your organization on the same page. Everyone drives against the same vision, key issues, strategies, and tactics.
A smart brand plan makes choices on how to allocate your brand’s limited resources to drive the biggest return. The plan gains approval from senior management around spending, strategies, tactics, goals, and projects. And, your plan aligns, steers and inspires all functional areas of the organization. The plan aligns marketing, sales, finance, supply chain, product development, human resources and any outside agencies. And lastly, the brand plan even helps the Brand Manager who wrote it. You need to stay focused on delivering on what they said they would deliver.Make focused investment decisions, and take smart risks to fix the brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment, and the consumer experience.
Read more on how to write a brand plan:
Our brand consulting services
This type of thinking can be found in our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks
Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand
- You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies.
- To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept.
- For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans.
- To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices.
- When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.