Feb 22, 2012

Brands Have a Shelf Life

Brands age and mature, and if they’re not maintained they fall apart.

You can see the aging process every time you redo your website. Typically a corporate website needs to be overhauled every 4 years. It starts looking tired in the third year, and dilapidated in the fourth. But the challenge with a new website project is it’s just the tip of the brand.

Your website is a very visual component of your brand. It’s easy to see when it’s out of date. But as soon as you start updating the website plenty of other branding projects start to popup. It’s a little like home renovation. You start with your kitchen, and soon your renovating the whole house.

Website overhauls follow a predictable trajectory. As you work on the site design you make some adjustments to your logo and identity – that triggers redoing all your letterhead and business cards. Then you rewrite all the copy on your site with a refined value proposition and better stories – that triggers redoing all your brochures and marketing collateral. Then you look at the executive biographies and they need work too – that triggers a photo shoot and new copy. What started as a $15,000 to $20,000 project can quickly balloon into a $100,000 plus rebranding project.

Plan for your brand’s shelf life

An outdated website is a symptom of an outdated brand. Your value proposition, identity, marketing collateral, points of view and go-to-market strategies all need regular updates.

Brands typically need a tune up every 3 to 7 years depending on the industry. For example, the software and IT sector changes a lot faster and more frequently than the construction industry. But regardless of the pace of an industry’s change, all brands need regular maintenance to remain relevant.

What’s the shelf life of brands in your industry? Gauge how quickly your marketing strategies age, and identify the optimal cycle to re-energize and tune-up your brand.

Values are static, brands are not

Even though your brand ages, your values don’t. They’re static. John Smale, former CEO of Procter & Gamble said,

“There are some important things that haven’t changed during the course of this company’s life and that is the basic character of this institution. Our values. The things that reflect our basic principles … These are the things that make P&G a great company. And these are the principles that will last, in my judgment, as long as this company lasts through the ages.”

Be careful to protect your company’s core values and beliefs as you polish and reinvent your brand. It’s easy to question what you stand for when you’re constantly examining your branding and marketing strategies.

Products change, competitors change, brands change, but values don’t. They’re the foundation of your brand, and they give it strength as you renovate your brand every few years.

(Image Credit: jptoto)

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