If all you had to do to succeed was to provide a valuable service to a waiting appreciative audience, it would indeed be a perfect world. But from the moment we walk into our offices in the morning, the real world kicks in and provides yesterday’s unseen challenges today. If only we had a crystal ball, we’d all be a little smarter.

 
What I hope you will find useful are signs that your brand has challenges up ahead, and that now is the time to strategize ways of pre-empting what I call: 
 
“Brand Bumps in the Road Ahead.”
 
Here are 10 bumps you might see and what they really mean for your business, so that you can make some strategic fixes to get over them.
 
Bump #1
 
You’ve begun noticing that customers are mistaking your business for a competitor.
 
Strategic fix: You are not differentiated enough, meaning your brand message offers no compelling story that sets you apart.
 
Bump #2
More and more, every piece of business is won or lost solely on price.
 
Strategic fix: Your customer has no relationship with you. You have become a commodity in their eyes. Maybe sales are relying on email too much and should get more face time with your customer. 
 
Bump #3
Bumps 1 and 2 have you a little rattled; your first thought is to update the brand logo.
 
Strategic fix: You are missing the point and shooting from the hip. The problem is not the logo; your brand has lost its heading. It is high time you had a good hard look at just what you stand for to your customers. Survey them to identify what will probably be obvious problems.
 
Bump #3
Staff seem unmotivated. They have lost the fire in their bellies.
 
Strategic fix: They reflect a symptom of your leadership. You have no doubt lost a bit of shine and their attitude is a symptom of this. They look to you as the visionary. Any negativity has a direct effect on their understanding of what is expected. It’s time for an attitude up-grading; it’s time to raise the bar.
 
Bump #4
You can’t seem to attract the best people anymore. 
 
Strategic fix: What has changed in your market is that your brand perception has taken a hit. In the mind of your community, your company is not seen as an opportunity or challenge. Your company is probably following not leading.
 
Bump #5
At business functions you are hard-pressed to give a quick description of exactly what your company does. You more or less tell them you are a provider of many and a master of none.
 
Strategic fix: Focus on what the company does exceptionally that NOBODY else in your category does. This is your door opener. A differentiator.
 
Bump #6
You are at a company function and staff are wearing branded clothing. It hits you that there is no consistent color scheme.
 
Strategic fix: Consistency in brand image breeds awareness. Your brand image has been bastardized over the years. Have one person in the company be responsible for the brand image strategy. All color decisions must be approved by them to be sure that only the correct colors are used. Color is a powerful emotional icon. 
 
Bump #7
There are trade shows coming that have traditionally gotten you important leads. Your attitude is to hurry up and get materials in place, and it is a grueling experience.
 
Strategic fix: It is grueling because you are not excited by your offering. Your message (I’d put a dollar on this) is the same old message you’ve always used. You have no differentiator, the booth staff will be unmotivated (sound familiar?), and it will show big time on the show floor. The displays just shows pretty pictures of product, no humanity what so ever. Trade shows are theater. Time to put on a show.
 
Bump #8
In your trade magazines and community newspapers, the competition is quoted more than you. 
 
Strategic fix: Your brand is not seen as the thought leader EVEN if you are the larger company. Time to develop a public relations initiative for a regular release of good news and information about your company. Maybe launch a blog to build on your expert profile. Reporters regularly look to blogs to develop stories. I’ve had success with this.
 
Bump #9
National competition is moving into the neighborhood. It is keeping you awake at night.
 
Strategic fix: I will bet that your marketing materials are either done in-house, done for free by the publication or by a son or daughter of. The public trusts professionalism. You must hire professionals to put the shine back on your brand image. Nothing brings success than the look of success. Nobody eats at a restaurant that has no cars out front.  Nobody does business with the loser.
 
Bump #10
You find yourself looking for ideas to find that magic solution. Only your heart rate is going faster than your desire for that quick fix.
 
Strategic fix: It took years to get into this position; it will take time to fix it. Give yourself a deserving pat on the back for the fact that you have at least begun your journey to smooth out the bumps in your road. Nothing is so broken it can’t be fixed. Get a group of stakeholders together, call them your road crew if you like. 
 
It’s time to re-surface your brand! Do it today.
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Ed Roach
For more than 25 years, Ed Roach has worked with hundreds of successful small businesses by helping them develop unique brand positioning strategies that differentiate them from their competition. Ed appreciates working with companies who see the value of going beyond mere slogans and have a desire to sell from compelling positions, and consults predominantly with businesses facilitating his proprietary process, "Brand Navigator." This branding process effectively focuses a company's brand, delivering a positioning strategy that can be taken to their marketplace. He is the author of "101 Branding Tips," a book of practical advice for your brand that you can use today.

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