Posted on

Al’s column: Are you due for a brand makeover?

October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9

By Lisbeth Calandrino


Remember when it was good enough to call yourself a carpet store?

Over the past 10 years, the smart “carpet stores” finally changed their names to include other flooring types. Many went kicking and screaming, afraid they would lose their old customers only to find out their “loyal customers” were cheating on them. At no time did they consider how much business they were losing because their customers were looking elsewhere for hard surface flooring.

The real conundrum is how do you know when it’s time for a brand update or refresh? All businesses face the same issue—can I thrive forever on what I’ve built? The answer, unfortunately, is not anymore. Technology has forever changed how we do business and how everyone gets information. As a case in point, consider how Amazon has changed the way many consumers shop. This may have been unthinkable 15 or 20 years ago.

For many retailers, brand evolution is more than just a name or logo change. For instance, recently Weight Watchers rebranded to WW. It’s likely they are developing a new concept that eliminates the concept of dieting and replaces it with “healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle.”

Along the same lines, Dunkin’ Donuts has decided to simply become “Dunkin”—dropping the “Donuts” from the name but not from the menu. There seems to be a general uproar on the consumer’s part about how awful it is to drop “Donuts.” With more than 10,000 Dunkin’ Donuts in the U.S., a name change is a big deal, but it has been long in the making. Dunkin’ Donuts has already been experimenting in some locations with new signage.

In another instance, Coca-Cola—a household name for decades—recently acquired Costa, Britain’s biggest coffee company. The retailer comprises 2,400 coffee shops in the U.K. and another 1,400 in more than 30 international markets. My hunch is they’re after the Starbucks brand.

So when is the best time to consider a brand refresh? Here are five signs:

Is your business what you want it to be?Has the culture changed in your area? Are you seeing less and less of your old customers? Furthermore, do you need to change but maybe you’re not sure if you want to? Are you not sure how to change?

Are you embarrassed to give out your business card?Is your card out of date, do the graphics look old? What do you want your card to say about your business?

Have you noticed your competitors are getting bigger and everyone looks alike?Have you forgotten who your core customer is and how to reach them? The wider you cast your net, the more confusion you may create. Your business needs to be unique. When you lose your uniqueness, you lose your competitive edge and profit margin.

Are you looking to compete on a higher level?The media continues to report the middle class (the “bread and butter” customers for some retailers) has all but vanished. The only way to make real money is to trade up to the higher end. Trading up may mean a change in how your store and employees look, how you market your services and what products you offer.

Are you struggling to raise prices and connect with new customers?When you are selling at a certain price point, it’s difficult to raise your price. Is it possible your salespeople are also stuck in the low sales mode and have the same struggle?

Remember: Your salespeople take their cues from you. If you believe in selling lower-priced merchandise, they will follow your lead.


Lisbeth Calandrino will deliver a presentation titled “Seven techniques to talk crazy customers (or anyone else) off the ledge” at TISE 2019, which kicks off Jan. 22 in Las Vegas.