The Vicious Cycle of Brand Erosion (and How Your Employees Are Involved)

  Southgate Centre, Edmonton. Photo: Ivanhoé Cambridge

Southgate Centre, Edmonton. Photo: Ivanhoé Cambridge

Today, nearly a third of consumers learn about new products and services via social media and branded websites. This reality only bolsters the importance of establishing your brand to ensure success.

Not only does an established brand enhance your professionalism, but it also ensures brand continuity. Competing on the grounds of quality alone won’t cut it in the digital age. Now, consumers crave — and even expect — an enjoyable brand experience. The age-old “bang for your buck” mentality is falling by the wayside.

Regardless of your company’s size, it’s imperative to establish and maintain a positive brand image, letting it evolve with your business. It’s an ongoing process that requires attention, especially from your customer service and marketing departments, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Today is the day to start building a better brand. Today is the day to build a brand that won’t succumb to a threatening tide.

As a result, many companies are now suffering from brand erosion, one of the first signs a business is headed toward extinction. Even established companies aren’t safe. Consider Sears, a department store heavyweight that’s been around for more than a century. Sears Holdings has been closing stores as its brand and sales decline. Last year, another 200 of the 1,900 remaining Sears and Kmart stores closed — the company’s future remains bleak.

If it can happen to a household name like Sears, it can happen to any brand. Don’t let it happen to yours. Here are the top warning signs to watch for:

1. Your Customer Loyalty Starts to Decline

As a company’s brand starts to wear away, customer loyalty will, too. When your customers begin taking their business elsewhere, this is a clear indication that your brand is eroding. While several factors can cause brand erosion, the loss of existing customers is a sure sign your brand is not performing at the level it should be.

2. You’re Selling Too Many Products

Focusing on too many products can lead to brand erosion. Focus on the products and services your company specializes in. You might find that a wide product line increases your profit levels for a short period of time, but with each new product comes added customer support, which can actually hinder overall support. If you’re going to introduce a product to your line, first make sure the proper backing is in place.

3. Your Employees Are Unhappy

Keeping your customers happy should be your No. 1 goal. To achieve it, you must keep your employees happy. After all, they’re your front line of defense when it comes to establishing customer rapport. To keep your employees satisfied and productive, build a culture of support. Reward them for their hard efforts and train them in relation to customer service.

4. You Don’t Have Proper Resources

As business leaders, we hope our product lines expand, but improper resources may be hindering further growth. As a result, brand erosion occurs. If it seems your resources are insufficient, consider cutting back your product line. Or, if possible, reorganize your budget to ensure appropriate resources are facilitating larger operations. Resources to consider for maximized growth include employee management software and heat map and video surveillance technology.

Proactive Ways to Stop Brand Erosion

At the first signs of brand erosion, it’s critical to implement a variety of methods to stop the cycle from continuing. If you don’t, it will spread throughout your organization like a virus, infecting everything from customer service to marketing agendas. Fortunately, methods exist for preventing, halting, and even reversing brand erosion:

  • Restructure your employees. Preventing erosion can be as easy as restructuring employees and placing them in positions that complement their strengths. If your staff isn’t cranking out first-rate performances (simply because they weren’t in the most appropriate positions), wear is possible.
  • Brand your employees. If your employees aren’t donning your branded apparel, start rewarding them with company swag. Something as simple as poor brand marketing can lead to erosion. With branded clothing, your employees will serve as walking marketing tools for your brand. Also, launching promotional campaigns and doling out promotional items are ways to further brand your company.
  • Always right your wrongs. No company is perfect, but some fail to show how much they care about their customers. These are companies that suffer from brand erosion. To keep your brand in a positive light, right all of your wrongs. If a customer isn’t satisfied with the product or service you provided, offer a refund or some type of compensation.

Regardless of your company’s size, it’s imperative to establish and maintain a positive brand image, letting it evolve with your business. It’s an ongoing process that requires attention, especially from your customer service and marketing departments, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Today is the day to start building a better brand. Today is the day to build a brand that won’t succumb to a threatening tide.

Sam Bahreini, a seasoned operations officer and agile entrepreneur, is co-founder and chief operating officer of VoloForce, a company that aims to help enterprise retail brands ensure perfect program implementation across multiple locations using automation and tools.

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: July 9, 2015