You’re ready to rebrand when your business or message is no longer in alignment with your work or audience perception. Maybe your transitioning to — or out of — a partnership. Maybe you’re introducing new products or services… or going after a new market. Maybe you’ve never actually gone through the branding process or your materials and message are simply outdated and no longer appeal to current audiences. Most businesses come to me when they’re in a period of growth. They’re ready to take their business to the next level and want to ensure they are positioning their business the right way. They want confidence in their messaging and to ensure what their prospects and customers think about their business is actually what they want them to think about their business.
As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Jacqui Genow. Jacqui is the founder and principal of J. Genow Marketing. She works with clients in aligning their brand message, building their marketing roadmap, and providing the guidance, clarity, and confidence needed to move their business forward more effectively and efficiently.
As a Brand and Business Strategist, Jacqui uses research, data and analysis to uncover the essence of what a company or product is about to deliver a differentiated brand position, consistent messaging and an integrated strategy that builds awareness, interest and loyalty today, tomorrow and five years from now.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Coming from the corporate world, I managed a lot of different aspects of marketing. Branding and strategy were always a part of that, but it was the day-to-day tasks that accounted for the larger percentage of my time. Once I started consulting, I was really able to focus in on those areas where I was most passionate and where I was able to provide the most value to my clients.
I absolutely love working with clients on brand strategy and messaging. As a marketing professional, witnessing a client’s “aha” moment — that moment when their perspective shifts just enough that their purpose, vision, and what makes their business unique all come in to focus — is the most gratifying part of my work.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, I don’t know how “funny” it was, but I certainly learned a valuable lesson from it! I was working on a resort development that catered to a very high-end clientele. The creative agency and I had put together an amazing campaign — beautifully staged photos, rich earthy tones, everything focused on luxury and exclusivity — it really was gorgeous. But there was a disconnect. The first phase of the project had been previously developed so there were already some owners who’d built homes and a sales staff on the ground. While we created a campaign to the right demographics, there was a subtle difference in tone. Where we had focused on the high-end nature of the project — exquisite and refined — everyone on site was more beachy and casual. So, the visual we were representing in our materials was off from the what prospects experienced when they toured the property. The lesson was to always start from what is. And then incorporate it into where you want to go in the future. Without integrating the two, there will always be a disconnect for your audience.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
I think once I solidified my own process is when I started seeing a shift. A sales coach once told me that “people buy how you sell, before they buy what you sell.” There’s a lot of truth in that. Once I codified my own process, I was able to better articulate not just what I would be delivering but how.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am. I’ve started working with a client that is creating a platform aimed at helping women as they navigate divorce. It’s been a passion project for one of the founders, and it’s really exciting to see all of the pieces start to come together for them. It’s just really gratifying for me to witness that moment when everything starts falling into place for a client. They get a newfound excitement and renewed sense of purpose that transfers to the entire team. And the project is such a worthy endeavor for an area that doesn’t get talked about a lot. I’m honored to be part of it.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
To accept that we all go through burnout at some point. There really is no avoiding it. The question is, do you let yourself get to the point where you’re just done and pack up? Or do you learn to pay attention to the signs? Do you sort of lean into it and allow yourself to take a break? Do something different to clear your mind and shift perspective in order to come back refreshed and focused.
Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
In simplest terms, Branding is about understanding yourself. Marketing is about understanding your customer. And advertising is about paying someone else to tell your customers about you.
Branding is the process of defining, developing, and implementing a Brand Strategy that will guide people in how to think about your company. It’s figuring out who you are, what your story is, how to tell your story so that it resonates with your audience — and then making sure you’re sticking to that story across all your marketing platforms. Branding includes:
- A Positioning Statement that differentiates the company and describes how it wants to be perceived by its target audiences
- Key Messages that can be used across all marketing platforms in ensuring a consistent and unified voice
- A Visual Identity — logo, fonts, colors, etc. — that represent the strategy and the company’s personality
Marketing is the process by which your business gets and keeps customers. When we’re talking about product marketing, we’re talking about a broad range of activities: Market research, product development, pricing, customer support, collateral, social media, etc. for a specific product.
Advertising on the other hand, refers to a very narrow scope. 1) Creating an ad and 2) Paying a 3rd party to run that ad on their platform.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
I read a quote once that said, “Great companies have marketing built into the DNA of their products”. I love that. It’s true because marketing is so integral to business success. And branding is where it all starts. Most people think of logos and color palettes when they think of branding. But those are just one component — the visual manifestations of the brand. Branding is really the internal work that is the foundation for everything else you do in your business. It’s how we express who we are as a company and it’s how we communicate — and connect — with our customers. Without doing the work of branding we’re rudderless. With branding, we have purpose. We have vision. And going through the branding process is often the catalyst for all the other pieces of their business to begin falling into place.
Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?
You’re ready to rebrand when your business or message is no longer in alignment with your work or audience perception. Maybe your transitioning to — or out of — a partnership. Maybe you’re introducing new products or services… or going after a new market. Maybe you’ve never actually gone through the branding process or your materials and message are simply outdated and no longer appeal to current audiences.
Most businesses come to me when they’re in a period of growth. They’re ready to take their business to the next level and want to ensure they are positioning their business the right way. They want confidence in their messaging and to ensure what their prospects and customers think about their business is actually what they want them to think about their business.
Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?
Absolutely. Don’t rebrand simply because it’s been a couple of years and you’re tired of looking at the same logo or website. Just because you’re bored with your marketing materials — those visual representations of your brand — doesn’t mean your audience is.
Take Gap, for instance. Back in 2010 they rebranded the company. Overnight there was a new look and a new logo. Customers were not happy. The Gap logo was iconic and part of their identity for customers. There was a big backlash, and just over a week later they wound up switching back to the original logo. The result was a lot of lost time and resources.
So, if you’re thinking about rebranding, make sure you have a clear and compelling business reason before jumping in.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.
- Talk to your clients and customers: They are a treasure trove of information. Whether it’s teaming up with Customer Service to make sure they are asking questions — and recording answers — in a way that can be shared with Marketing. Or you’re engaging an outside consultant on a branding project. Our customers are our best assets to find out what’s working, what isn’t, and what we can do to improve.
- Uncover your brand story: Every business has a story to tell. You and your team tell it every day. Whether it’s creative development, how you decorate your office, or how the receptionist answers the phone. It’s all part of creating the story of who you are and why you’re here. The question is, “Are you telling the story you want to tell?” Dyson is a great example of this. When they first launched, the owner would tell the story of wanting to build a vacuum cleaner that didn’t lose suction. Immediately we knew his backstory, what the product was, how it was different, and why we should care. We could see ourselves hunched over our own vacuum cleaners trying to get it unstuck or figure out why it stopped working. The commercial helped draw us in and connect us to his vision.
- Develop a Positioning Statement: As a Brand Strategist, it all starts with the Positioning Statement. Two or three sentences that answer the who, what, where and why of your business. But its purpose is so much bigger. It serves as the anchor for your brand and helps ensure you are staying true to your core purpose and vision. That you’re keeping your promise to your customers and not getting distracted with products and services that sound great but aren’t what they need or want. And having a Positioning Statement in place can help you determine if it’s time to update and re-energize your brand.
- Build a Messaging Framework: Many years ago, I started working with a client that quite honestly sounded like a different business at every touch point. From emails I received, to their website, to boilerplates being sent out in press releases. There was zero consistency in the messaging they put out. Putting a framework in place helps ensure that 1) you’re highlighting those features and benefits that are most compelling to your audience and 2) you’re staying consistent across all marketing and communication platforms. Whether it’s your website, Instagram, or presentations made by the sales team, you’ll be presenting a unified voice that customers will immediately recognize.
- Incorporate your brand into your company culture. And vice versa: Branding is great. Messaging is great. The perfect logo, website and Instagram feed are great. But none of it will make an impact if it doesn’t match the experience customers have with your business and staff. And if you create a brand that is so far off from the company culture, it will be that much harder to get buy-in from your employees. So, look for ways to uphold your brand promise not only with your customers, but with employees as well. Back in my advertising days I worked at an agency that was very committed to this concept. Obviously, being in advertising we wanted clients to view us as innovative and creative. But it wasn’t just words directed at clients. The agency implemented this concept by launching an internal campaign aimed at highlighting what made the employees unique. Everyone was invited to participate by showcasing a skill or passion. Whether it was photography, crocheting, cooking, or scrapbooking. The owners rented a gallery space for us and hosted an evening about sharing our “other lives” with co-workers. And then they hung huge photos of people showcasing their skill all around the office. It was fun and helped us connect to the company mission.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
I think Old Spice did a great job refreshing their brand. I don’t know if you remember their “Man on a Horse” campaign. At the time it came out, it went viral and was a huge success.
I mean Old Spice has been around forever. Over time it became viewed as a cheesy product and company. Old, stodgy and dated. They went through an internal effort to modernize and appeal to a younger audience, but it was the ad campaign that brought it all together. They were able to capitalize on the negative perception in the marketplace by completely flipping it around. They took all the seriousness out of the brand and made it fun, cool and a bit cheeky.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As the parent of a young child, I’ve become a bit obsessed with this one lately. Fewer toys. And less packaging on those toys. For one thing, I don’t know if there is anything more frustrating (especially during the holidays) than trying to untie and un-tape every possible area of a doll set while your child is not-so-patiently waiting nearby! It really hit me this past year, that as a society we just consume way too much. I’ve been reading more about toy libraries and would love to see that take off. And it would be great if toy manufactures would implement more sustainability practices in how they package products.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Even the most successful among us would not have gone far without the help of friends, family, co-workers or employees. It’s a great reminder to not only build a strong network and community, but to also honor the impact they have on our successes.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.