#10: Who owns your brand?

When rebranding companies often focus on their own new direction.

However, for those who spent time building communities, failing to consider their audiences and their connection to the brand can be a costly mistake with long-lasting consequences.

The power of branding – building communities

One of the highest levels of successful brand strategy is when your audience, clients and consumers connect your brand to their own sense of identity. 

Apple is a great example. Through its revolutionary, innovative and somewhat controversial approach to product development, sleek aesthetics and clever advertising- it created more than a brand. It created a movement. 

It provided a sense of identity for people who use their products. They are not ordinary. They are not boring. They are creative rebels ‘who think different’. 

In the world of software, Russell Brunson, the owner of ClickFunnels, is setting an example. He had an innovative product that changed the way people do business. However, he knew that like with any ‘blue ocean’ where you step into clean waters with no competition, the others will follow soon. It’s not a question of ‘if, it’s a matter of ‘when’. What Brunson did was close to genius. To keep clients connected to his brand, no matter how many competitors arrive with similar products- he bound his users with a sense of identity. They are not business owners or entrepreneurs. They are not even Funnel Builders. They are ‘Funnel Hackers’. I heard of at least one person who doesn’t have a funnel but has been paying for the software for years (that’s min. $97/month, $1164/year) just to hold the title and belong to the group that helps him think about himself in a certain way.

The risk of successful brand strategy

As with any type of success, there are certain costs. Just as a company that goes into the stock market finds itself bound to the interest of its backers and therefore can no longer be as free or risky in its decision-making, so it goes for successful brands. 

The wider reach your brand has, the more successful it is, the more people buy into your vision and your idea- the more people you have to think of when you consider changes. The sense of ownership shifts from the owner to the receiver – the audience, clients, consumers.  The name, the logo, the look and feel suddenly is no longer for you to change freely, or at least, not without upsetting a large group of people who contributed to your success.

GAP experienced that in 2010 when it famously changed its iconic logo. There was an outcry from their fans and massive backlash. Even I, who rarely buys branded clothes, felt uncomfortable with that change. Apart from not being a fan of the new aesthetics, I had my own story connected to GAP, a memory that was quite sentimental to me, and the change in logo upset that connection.

Here is another example: 

Recently I joined a membership/networking community which soon after changed its name. When it happened I was still a brand new member, yet I felt emotionally affected by that change. I felt a sense of loss. A loss of connection to an idea that we had something in common. Something pleasant, something that brings certain joy and pleasure. After all, the original name attracted me to the network in the first place. 

We were asked not to use the old name anymore so as to not confuse potential new members, but it is impossible to share this story as an example without indicating at least the scale of the change. 

So let me just say that the original name had something to do with being together and drinking a hot beverage that is usually associated with a morning boost of energy and it’s not tea. As a solopreneur, who is not only a fan of said beverage but who also sometimes feels isolated when working by herself, having a community of like-minded, like-drinking people is crucial to wellbeing. I joined for the ‘togetherness’. 

The new name was designed for the network to indicate their versatility. However, it felt to offer a new sense of identity to its members. In fact, the new name works almost like the nemesis of the old one. As by the pure definition of the word it speaks about ‘not belonging’ and if I take it further, about ‘no importance’.  

For a group made of people who chose to carve their own path by themselves, that loss of connection to a unifying idea is a big thing. Because as much as we like doing things our own way, nobody wants NOT to belong.

So what’s the moral of these stories? 

Just like in everything, the higher you climb, the further you can fall. So when you feel your business would benefit from re-branding, consider all your stakeholders, especially your audience and clients.

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