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How to keep your brand alive

Brands don't stop working overnight. They get clogged arteries, run out of puff and their joints seize up. Then the business runs out of road. Businesses often don't notice when a brand declines because it happens so gradually. They don't see the problems because they aren't looking for them. They don't read the market research - or think they need it. They stop listening to customers.

A company competes with its brand. But keeping a successful brand alive and well means looking inside your company as well as out. Brands don't die; people kill them. Every person in your company will at some point do something that either drives the business and the brand forward, or harms it.

The Network Veka brand didn't just 'happen'. It was built with enormous effort from the organisation and its members. Part of that effort goes into adding value to strengthen it. Part goes into careful policing so it doesn't lose its focus and weaken. Strong brands need managing so you get what you want from them.

Managers often think that strategy is more important than anything else. But it doesn't matter how clever your strategy is, if it is executed badly. When companies fail, it is usually because the quality of the product or service has deteriorated, or is no longer what customers want.

A successful strategy is usually, short, simple and easy to understand. And everyone in the company should know and understand it.

One major symptom - and cause - of a brand in trouble is lack of contact between management and the people at the front end - those who think about the work and those who do the work. The people at the front end are the people your customers meet, those who install or sell the products your customers use. They, not you or your advertising, are the face of your brand.

If you ask the people at the front end what your business and your brand stands for, and they don't know, you have a problem. How are your customers supposed to know what your brand stands for if the people they deal with don't know? It works the other way, too. Those who deal with customers directly often have a pretty good idea of what customers want from your company.

Marketing is not just about advertising. It is also about making sure that everyone in the company understands the core values of the brand they are promoting. Make sure that everyone in your company is driving your brand forward, not into the ground.

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