Branding Therapy: Avoiding a Brand Identity Crisis
You may not have realized it, but regardless of the size of your business, a marketing plan – especially one fuelled by meaning – is kind of a big deal. Without one, it’s easy for a business to start suffering from an identity crisis.
Take Microsoft for example. They’re a large – nay – huge business, and yet they’re suffering from this exact problem. It might be surprising that a mogul like Microsoft is suffering from an identity crisis – but think about it, what do you really think of when you think Microsoft? The more you think about it, the more the cracks seem to show.
“The overarching point about Microsoft remains. The company, despite being one of the richest, most powerful tech companies of all time, is generally underestimated and seen as a second-class citizen to companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and even Facebook, by the tech elite,”
explained Jay Yarow in an article for Business Insider. It’s hard to define what Microsoft stands for and what their guiding vision is.
And suddenly, with Microsoft in the throes of an identity crisis, instead of honing in on their unique identity, they are reaching outwards just trying to compete to keep their heads above water. It’s an issue that is going to haunt them unless something changes soon. “I think it would be helpful for Microsoft’s brand if it were able to have an easily digested, often repeated mantra,” continued Yarow,
“It would improve the company’s focus, and people’s opinion of what it does.”
So what has your business been chanting as it’s mantra lately?
This scenario, the likes of which Microsoft is facing, seems all too relatable. A hip new “it” company rises up, riding social buzz and word of mouth. Instead of looking inwards at your business’s actual identity, you reach outwards focused solely on beating out the competition. It’s not entirely efficient to try and beat out every competitor that comes into field, spreading your team thin trying to do it all. There is wisdom in focusing on exactly what you do best and understanding your unique identity. Don’t go being a poser.
If an identity crisis is defined as a period of uncertainty and confusion that effect’s someone’s sense of self, why wouldn’t the same goes for a business? Psychologists tend to agree that the only real cure for an identity crisis is zoning in on a societal role and end goals (see: purpose). So avoiding an identity crisis in business means having an end vision in sight to ward off the confusion associated with plowing along with no real sense of direction.
“I would say proper planning is absolutely essential to the success of any campaign,” explained Alan Martin, an award winning marketing specialist,
“Whenever I’ve run a campaign for my own business that’s not delivered the results that I had expected, I can usually trace this back to insufficient planning at some stage of the process.”
Or, maybe Martin is implying the big existential questions didn’t get asked early on.
Imagine the embodiment of your business laying down on the chaise lounge in your theoretical psychiatry office. Weird, but not a totally crazy idea when you consider where an identity crisis generally leads to (see: your therapist).
A question you could ask your business would be “How would you define your identity, anyway?” – a strange and pragmatic question – almost in the same vein as “Who am I?” But getting a little introspective and taking time for exploration has its benefits. And without even trying, by asking those meaningful questions you’re unknowingly making the first steps towards developing a killer marketing plan.
‘Marketing’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot – but it’s seldom understood. Brochures, email campaigns and smartly dressed pseudo professionals tend to fall under the umbrella of ‘marketing’ – but whatever it means to your company, it helps to have great marketing in your corner to navigate through the infinite cool ideas that you just don’t have time for.
“Consistently successful businesses understand their business model and exercise exceptional discipline in sticking to that model,” said Ravi Kathuria, author or How Cohesive is Your Company: A Leadership Parable,
“These businesses never suffer an identity crisis regardless of circumstances. They know what they stand for, what they bring to the marketplace and for whom.”
Just as in regular life (you know, where we don’t compare businesses to people in the dark depths of an identity crisis), it’s a lot easier to get to your destination when you know where you’re going. Google maps help and GPS is strongly advised for some, but when talking strictly business, you’re going to need a meaningful marketing plan so you’re not just competing, you’re defining a unique destination with real value.
If you want to learn more about specific key elements of an effective marketing plan, read our 50+ page booklet on How to Write A Strategic Marketing Plan That Yields ROI – complete with explanations