It’s a force that not only represents actual performance, but signals what the future could be.
Momentum is often talked about as it relates to sports, politics and finance. Teams and individuals find their mojo and ride the wave of momentum. But so to with brands. It’s like everything they undertake is successful and effortless, as if they’re being carried along by a tailwind that propels them on to exceptional growth.
Momentum is also an assessment of the consumer’s forecast of the future and, as William J. McEwen (author of Married to the Brand) states, “they’re attracted to what is growing and are often apprehensive of that which is not.” So while a brand’s present marketplace position certainly matters, so does the direction (and perceived direction) in which it’s headed.
Some brands hold on to this actual and perceived momentum. They use it to help them deliver change, growth, competitive advantage and business success (think Kiehl’s, Under Armour, Red Bull, CVS, Lululemon and SoulCycle, to name a few). But most don’t. And when that happens, what actions do you take?
All solutions should start with an accurately defined problem. Followed by the correct diagnosis of the course of action that needs to be followed. In most situations, you can start with this simple framework. Questioning one of, or a combination of, these four things:
1. Product/Service. If the problem lies here, it’s because in some way what the consumer is being offered doesn’t work for them. Whether because of selection, performance, pricing, distribution or surrounding experience. You might not be able to create a quick fix. But it’s not something that can be ignored. Because without fixing this most basic of problems, your plans will always be compromised if you’re not bringing the right product, service or experience to the consumer.
2. Brand. If product/service doesn’t appear to be the issue, it’s time to examine the brand. Is there something about the brand and specifically people’s relationship with or beliefs about that brand that is holding it back. Does it have something relevant to share with customers? Is it differentiated from competition? Does it tap into emotions and create an instinctive attraction? Is consistency and reliability embedded within it? Don’t let good products and services be compromised by unhelpful brand associations that hold back business and customers.
3. Internal Engagement. Brands that break through today have a defining characteristic: a highly engaged leadership and employee base that believes in the brand, feels empowered in working toward a bigger mission, and has the tools and incentives to deliver. Today, your brand story needs to do so much more than guide your messages and communications; it should serve as a unifying idea to align the company and drive growth under a common mission.
This requires a clear understanding, articulation, and communication of your brand’s purpose. While every brand works to make a promise, a promise alone will not separate one brand from another in a marketplace where consumers are untrusting and management is constantly demanding budget justification. Having a defining purpose will
4. Activation. And finally if it’s not a product, brand or engagement problem it’s probably an activation problem. The communications and actions for the brand are not telling the right story, working in the right way or targeting the right people. But the problem might go beyond the communication and value you create. It could be the audience you are targeting, the channels that you are using or the “brief” at the root of your efforts. Whatever your requirement is, finding the right trigger is often at the heart of the matter.
How to create the momentum to thrive?
It’s typically the result of a powerful and dynamic process of ensuring the collective force of product, brand, people and activation. Combined with the energy, expertise and commitment to overcome challenges and achieve spectacular performance.
Moreover, momentum is about never standing still. It’s about evolving in ways that keep consumers interested and engaged to maintain the trajectory of your business; by anticipating and leading change rather than following it.