Reinventing your brand? Don’t forget to involve your customers

Many organizations know the “what” and “how” of their business but are unfamiliar with “why” their business works the way it does.

Ultimately the “why” question is answered with a shared brand identity that permeates the entire culture. Once that vision is shared, the real work begins: getting customers to understand and share that vision.

Rob Schuham, a seasoned marketing professional and entrepreneur, says customers are taking a more active role in companies’ brand identity. Historically companies have been slow to react to consumer suggestions, Schuham says, which in today’s world of social media and technology means customers will take their input to someone else who will listen.

Today Schuham leads innovation at Match Marketing Group, a marketing solutions provider. In his work he helps companies innovate their respective brands to become more relevant to customers.

In any re-branding effort Schuham starts with the simple first questions of Why, What and How to bring clarity to the organization’s mission. Answering “Why,” Schuham says, helps define the meaning behind the brand and ultimately give a reason for customers to follow it (think of Apple and its cultish customer base).

Once he has established what the brand stands for, Schuham looks for ways to create a utility component within it and make it connect to consumers on multiple levels. For example, The North Face stood for great clothing that could handle high-endurance weather. The company used this aspect of its brand to launch a smartphone application called “The Snow Report” which consumers use to check the weather, snow conditions, and full trail maps.

Brand innovation is more than just focusing on improving physical products. It also extends to user experience.

Schuham regards Tesla as an excellent example of being a brand innovator. The company created a revolutionary brand from a product with the Model S electric sedan, which consumers completely customized online before purchasing. It also eliminated the tense negotiations of the car-buying experience by having the car delivered to the consumer’s home.

Creating a unique and meaningful brand for your organization and stakeholders takes some innovative thinking. No matter how you arrive at a final draft of your new brand identity, Schuham says the customer should be at the beginning and the end of the innovation equation.

“There’s no specific state of mandates for innovation,” Schuham says. “Everyone has different creativity methods. There is no singular magical formula.”