Prevent Brand Disaster. Slow Your Roll and Talk to Stakeholders

Brand Federation's Rian Chandler-Dovis sees high risk in moving too fast with brands. Minimize it by talking to stakeholders first. Then hit the gas.

Brand Disaster

Corporate executives and start-up entrepreneurs agree. Speed to market can mean the difference between seizing an opportunity or watching it go by. It also can cause unnecessary and costly brand crashes.

We work with clients all the time that want to move fast, full speed ahead. It’s not surprising in a business culture that glorifies start-ups and applauds mantras like Facebook’s “move fast and break things.” After all, it’s a culture that has produced the richest companies in the planet’s history.

But hitting the gas without first taking a close look at the map isn’t generally smart brand strategy. When you break things, there’s a mess to clean up. It’s expensive, especially for start-ups, and it can be avoided by taking time first to understand the multiple and diverse perspectives of your marketplace.

First, talk to your employees. They’re on the front lines of your business. They know its strengths and the challenges it faces. Then talk to your customers. They know what they want from your company, what they get from it, and where it exceeds or falls short of expectations. Talk to other stakeholders, too, whose words or actions can affect your business.

Inclusivity is crucial here. People of different race, gender, sexual orientation, or background may have wildly differing perceptions of your organization.

Like turning on Waze, careful, thoughtful, and inclusive research uncovers insights that mark the road ahead – and reveals the blind spots and obstacles that can obliterate unsuspecting brand programs.

Building a foundation of customer insights to support brand decision making takes a little time, but it’s worth the investment. It’s the only way prevent unexpected, scary roll overs like this one a few years ago at UC Berkeley, or this one at Victoria’s Secret, or this example of unsafe speeding that continues breaking things: Facebook.

I often hear a quote that goes something like “no one has time to do it right the first time, but everyone has time to redo it.” When a brand fails, there’s no choice but to redo it or fold. Why go there? Do it right the first time. Scout the way forward before flooring it. We can help.

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