Oldsmobile, Pan Am and Zenith… How to avoid being next!

Each year 24/7 Wall St., an online publisher of financial news and opinions, lists 10 American brands that are predicted to fail.  Tragically, their predictions for these brands are rather accurate.  And while I don’t agree with all of their predictions for 2014, here’s a look at the brands they think will not make it past next year.

Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 2014

1.  J.C. Penney
2.  Barnes & Noble NOOK
3.  Martha Stewart Living Magazine
4.  Living Social
5.  Volvo
6.  Olympus
7.  WNBA
8.  LEAP Wireless
9.  Mitsubishi Motors
10. Road & Track magazine

24/7 Wall St.’s predictions are based on company’s declining sales and losses, disclosures from parent brands, buyouts, bankruptcies, loss of customers and market share.  But gains and losses only prove whether your company is healthy.  How do you know if your brand is healthy?

First, let’s define a brand. In short, a brand is a promise.  It’s a promise to provide a specific experience with your product/service that the client wants or expects. For example, your brand may promise to deliver value or prestige; and prestige appeals to our emotions.

If you were to compare them linguistically, companies speak revenue and brands speak emotion. Companies must have that emotional side to connect with consumers and clients; they need a brand.

If your brand is dying, your company will die with it. Often, the brand dies first.  Just ask Oldsmobile, Montgomery Ward, Pan Am Airlines or Zenith.  Or should I say, ask someone who used to work there.

how to know if your brand is healthy

How to know if you have a healthy brand

To find out more about your brand’s health, you can conduct a simple internal brand audit by asking the following questions. (If you’d like to do a customer survey in addition to the brand audit, tweak the brand audit questions as needed and ask your customers for feedback.)

Brand Audit questions

1.  Is my brand unique?

  • Does my brand have a distinct and easy-to-remember name, product, service?
  • Does my brand offer a service or element (i.e. price-point) that sets me apart from my competition?

2.  Is my brand reliable?

  • Does my brand make a promise on which I struggle to deliver (i.e. on time, every time)?
  • Does it exhibit its brand characteristics consistently over time—with every product/service?
  • Is your staff trained to follow through on every deliverable, at every touch point?

3.  Is my brand consistent?

  • Does all of your internal and external communication speak with one voice?
  • Are you confusing your audience with inconsistent colors, fonts, messaging?
  • Do people who walk through your doors experience varied levels of customer service?

4.  Is my brand credible?

  • Do clients believe the characteristics that make up my brand identity?
  • Would anyone in the general public find your brand promise hard to believe?

5.  Is my brand focused?

  • Am I focused on my niche or do I try to be all things to all people?
  • Would a better focus allow me to build more brand loyalty?

6.  Is my brand relevant . . . to my customers?

  • Does my brand make a promise that is attractive and relevant to my customers?
  • Do they really care about what I’m offering, or am I just doing what I want to do?

While this list is not exhaustive, these questions can help you determine if your brand is stepping up to bat and delivering. Your brand is a promise to your customer. It should be delivering on those promises and connecting with people while your product/service meets the needs of the market.

Take note of the brand characteristics that are a part of every strong, healthy brand—and be distinctive, reliable, consistent, credible, focused and relevant.