Falling off the Zeitgeist


How often do we encounter brands that catch a zeitgeist and surf a wave of popularity to fade almost as quickly after a few years.

Any successful brand has a number of elements that come together with a synergy that propel it to stardom. It is never just about one element, even if appears to be so.

I was speaking with a client the other day that has a brand whose ascendancy to stardom can only be described as meteoric but is now experiencing a tougher environment. There are some obvious issues with a change in the consumer environment – consumer attitudes are different in 2015 than they were in 2005 – and the sharpening of the health focus onto sugar.

However, if it was just about the obvious then the answer would be easy – and there would be no need to speak with me at all – but it never is that easy. Making the obvious changes to move with the changing environment has had limited success. The problem is that the brand has always delivered so much more than just the obvious top-line benefits and as they adjust it to match the identified changes in consumer expectations in one area they lose some of the less recognised, less spoken about benefits that made it work so well in the first place.

Whatever our brand and whatever the environment in which we are operating we need to move with our customers. But as we adjust our product delivery we need to be sure that we really understand all of the reasons that our brand is successful. As we fiddle with the graphic equaliser to turn up the bass to deliver the greater beat that modern customers demand we must also ensure that we do not lose the subtlety of the melody that no one ever spoke about but was in fact the part of the tune that relaxed and calmed our consumers and which differentiated us from the competition.

Standard consumer research is very poor at understanding the subtleties of product delivery, at identifying the lower order – less obvious – brand benefits. But when you lose these lower order benefits customers are quick to let you know that something is wrong by walking away  – even if they cannot quite articulate what it is.

Emotional profiling is a way of getting consumers to tell you so much more about your brand and helps you to understand all of the elements that create the synergy that is your brand. It will also help you to understand how to adjust your delivery to keep up with the changing consumer whilst never losing those important elements that make your brand work.