New Problems

The character of your problem should define your approach.

Brand challenges don’t always look alike. The symptoms of a weak brand platform may not reveal themselves, and the underlying problem may not be obvious. Brand managers may feel anxiety, pain, or just plain stuck, but a course of treatment for any of these may differ depending on the root cause. That’s why finding focus is the first step.

How much do you know about what is going on? Is this a new problem or one that’s been around for a while? The answers to these questions will shape your approach to a solution. Consider whether your challenge is focused on maximizing a new opportunity, reacting to new dynamics, or if you need better definition or alignment.

New opportunities are a new, known challenge. Firms that are able to take advantage of a new technology, product, or service can operate from a position of strength. The key here is not to get distracted by near-term trends, but to use the opportunity as a bridge between where your brand is today and where you want it to be in the future.

Known, existing problems often leave people feeling stuck. In this case, brand managers need alignment for better understanding and traction on a clear brand vision. Getting unstuck requires more coherent perception goals, communication, coordination, and standards.

Sooner or later, everyone deals with new dynamics. Internal dynamics like a new company, strategy, or leadership, as well as a recent acquisition, spin-off, or merger, often spurs change. Changing external dynamics, such as responding to a new market or customer behavior, quickly become a new constant. New dynamics often require tweaking or wholesale reinvention of your brand position.

Sometimes brand managers need help defining the problem more broadly. This is often a result of trying to be all things to all people in the face of market confusion or change. Finding focus is here starts with a sound methodology to increase understanding of your customer or category.

Strong brand platforms are sustainable and differentiating. Start by finding focus, which means diagnosing the problem.

Next article: Make Research Actionable