More money, time and resources are squandered rebranding entire firms when all firms need to do to drive growth is to build familiarity of the firm’s capability in a smaller, well-defined market segment, service or industry.
At the heart of this mistake is confusing the difference between brand awareness and brand relevance.
Brand awareness, simply defined, refers to the extent that the market recognizes a firm’s name and/or logo (i.e. “Yes, I have heard of Accenture. I have seen its ads at the airport.”)
Brand relevance, on the other hand, is a measure of a firm’s marketplace established credibility on an issue or capability (i.e. McKinsey has heavy-duty brand awareness, but it has zero brand relevance in accounting services.)
Firms desire both ubiquitous awareness AND inclusive relevance in EVERY practice area. Unfortunately, high levels of awareness require substantial investments of both money and time that firms either cannot afford or are unwilling to commit. On the other hand, by definition, brand relevance mandates focus. Eminent brands simply cannot be stretched across a throng of disparate business lines.
McDonald’s corporation has many brand and business strengths. Its marketing prowess is exceptional; it is impeccable operationally and its geographic locations are coveted. These are all attributes that might apply well
Could the restaurateur or your firm be relevant in its new market? Absolutely, but how much time and money would it take to change the market’s perception?
Your firm’s goal is to hit the sweet spot that optimizes both dimensions. That is, your firm will be known generally in your target markets and specifically as the leader for the unique value that you deliver to clients.
Building relevance and building awareness are
Don’t rebrand an entire firm just to expand to an adjacent market or strengthen the market position of a fledgling practice. Instead, lay out a strategy with the commensurate investment that incrementally builds the market’s perception of the firm on the necessary preference drivers. (See Mistake No. 10: Focusing on brand attributes that do not drive preference)