Any business that has ever existed is built on one or more products or services. Sometimes, it’s just one offering that the enterprise is known for; other times, multiple product or service offerings are made under one roof. In the prior case, the management of the brand might seem easier as there’s just one product or service offering to manage. In the latter, the job looks much tougher as there’s more to juggle at one time.
In reality, both are equally tough. When there’s just one offering, its massive scale is usually what makes the brand’s management challenging. And when there are more products or services on the plate, the task gets trickier and it’s more about smart play than plain management. Whatever the case, to manage a brand, regardless of its type or size, is hardly a walk in the park. For brand managers, it typically means being on alert 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
While there are many challenges that marketers have faced since the dawn of the industry, some of them still haunt the dreams of today’s brand managers. The rise and fast adoption of technology have solved many communications challenges, some age-old problems have persisted to add to everyday troubles to the managers of brands. It’s not that these hardships are impossible to overcome; it’s just that they somehow have elbowed their way into modern-day marketing amid what’s most likely an unfitting environment for them.
Listed below are some of such challenges:
1. Consistency still tends to go missing
Even in today’s hyper-digital, hyper-connected world, a perfect cohesion remains missing. For some reason, it often happens that awareness about a certain development fails to spread evenly across various departments of the company. And in spite of countless communications channels of today – email, WhatsApp, Facebook/Workplace, Slack, Zoom, and whatnot – information gaps still exist.
It’s common for an employee of one department to not know what the other department is doing. This can become a branding nightmare when such an employee, who himself is a brand ambassador by default – uses outdated collateral in his communication, or worse, old information in his brand promotions. This is exactly the sort of thing that drives brand managers nuts and keeps them on their toes.
It’s not just the advertising materials that need to be consistent; every moving part of the branding operation – from copywriter to in-store employee – must be in line with the latest developments and have access to the right resources to ensure the brand’s success. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done and in spite of cutting-edge communications tools, a perfect consistency continues to be an unmet dream for the brand managers.
2. Negativity has all new shapes
While branding efforts are aimed at shaping customer opinion and tilting it in the brand’s favor, that very customer opinion has been making and breaking businesses since the dawn of time. Today’s brand managers might just look back at the ‘good old days’ of marketing where customer was considered as the proverbial god with their power to impact the business. As if managing customer opinion wasn’t a hard enough job already, the new tools of today have just added to the trouble.
Today, customer has a louder voice than they ever had. Gone are the days when an unhappy customer would write a bad review on paper and drop it in the suggestion box – it was just between that customer and the management. The customer of today has countless platforms to say good or bad things about your brand. Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatnot. One bad review and boom – all your branding efforts now have a big ugly dent on them. It’s a living nightmare that looms over the heads of brand managers 24/7.
But it’s not just gloom and doom with the new tech and tools. In fact, they have become robust platforms where all modern branding campaigns are targeted. They help band managers reach the right audience more effectively and often at much lower costs than conventional methods. They get measurable results, impressive ROIs, and accomplished goals. But, this democratization of opinion-making works both ways and one mistake on your part can surely mean great damage to your brand’s hard-earned repute.
3. You snooze, you lose!
Staying on top of changing trends has always troubled brand managers since the very first marketing campaigns. More sensitive brands demand near blink-less vigilance; you miss one thing and your brand is in for a cruel and uncontrollable plummet. Today, we guess that the job must have been easier in the past as it was a slower world with very limited means of communication. Although marketers must have been hard at work back then too, staying on top of trends would not look like anything it’s today.
Today, it’s just awful as we peek through a brand manager’s spectacles. Trends do not shape of change over years or months now; events take mere hours to become trends today. It’s a world of tagging and hashtags, a freer world than ever where a consumer, after spending mere cents, can publicly call you out without hassle. An inglorious fall of your brand’s repute is just a disgruntled customer’s hashtag away. If you’re not proactive or responsive, you’re a goner for sure in today’s hyper-connected, fast-moving world.
A seemingly minor event, which tends to snowball into a big crisis today thanks to social media, can have you revising your entire branding campaigns on very short notices. And when events of such huge magnitude as the Covid-19 pandemic happen, they potentially bring total annihilation of your branding efforts. It’s cruel how the hard work of years and months can be scrapped in an instant, but it’s a usual occurrence in the life of a brand manager. And in today’s rapid world, one little oversight can mean a huge, even irreparable, loss to your brand image.
How to overcome these brand management challenges
Although the challenges that we just discussed still exist today, successful brand managers know how to overcome them. In other words, it’s beating such odds that makes you a good brand manager. The new age, especially the Covid-ridden world, has changed the rules of the game dramatically. Consumption patterns have changed rapidly the world over, and probably, the change is for good and a part of the ‘new normal’. However, those who make the right moves at the right time rarely fail.
Here are some pieces of advice you can use to take your brand management game up a notch.
1. Stay on top of trends
If you’re not a tech and social media freak, today’s brand management is not for you. If, by any chance, you find yourself hating all those mindless notifications on your phone, you’re caught in the wrong job. The only way you can survive and excel as a brand manager is by staying on top of the latest happenings in, as well as outside, your industry. And the only way to stay up-to-date on top trends is through super-active engagement on the social media.
2. Make strategies that are flexible
It’s a rapidly changing world that we live in today. It’s the age of flexible solutions that can be tailored to the changing needs with least effort. So, your brand management strategies and goals must also embody this agility and flexibility to be able to adapt to rapid changes if they happen. Make a plan that accommodates various possible routes to a goal, instead of a rigid one. And it may sound like stating the obvious, but all your efforts must also look and sound fresh.
3. Employ the best available technology
It’s a tech-driven world and it’s imperative for your brand management approach to reflect that. Employ the latest available technology as much as you can as part of your brand management efforts. This will bring agility and flexibility to your campaigns while helping you reach your branding goals faster. Advanced social media listening tools, for instance, can help you a great deal in staying on top of relevant public sentiments with faster response times.
4. Learn from global leaders
Learning must never stop, especially when it’s about something as dynamic as marketing and managing important brands. Always look up to the masters of the industry and learn from their actions. Keep a keen eye for global brands and their latest positioning tactics, and use these learnings (where you can) to meet your own branding goals. Today, it’s also easier to personally get in touch with industry leaders and seek their guidance to overcome your brand management challenges.
5. Always be relevant
We live in a world that’s progressing so fast that even an event from the past week seems distant. This brings the need for you to be a fast executor, not a slow-paced individual, or a procrastinator for that matter. Act fast, cash in on the latest trends, be proactive and responsive, and stay creative. Learning from others is one thing, but experimenting with new things and innovating are some things you must never shy away from. Do this and see yourself level up the brand management game!