Brand Management

Point Blank – 4 self-inflicted missteps that can land your brand in trouble

Blockbuster. Remember them? In a time that seems far, far away, the 9,000-store video rental chain seemed to be everywhere.


Blockbuster. Remember them? In a time that seems far, far away, the 9,000-store video rental chain seemed to be everywhere. Families would practically camp out to secure the latest releases.

But as the industry and world changed, and movie-renting habits evolved, Blockbuster failed to adapt. Did you know that it once declined an offer to partner with an emerging new company called Netflix. 

Try to find a Blockbuster story today. I dare you.

The Blockbuster story isn’t that unusual. Too many brands often don’t recognize the need to adjust to changing markets and circumstances until it’s too late.

Standing still while changes rage around you is a formula for failure, plain and simple. But if you employ the right decision making, it’s possible to give your brand a shot to live forever. There are dozens of identifiable ways you can make a mess of your brands. Here are four that seem to be the most consistent:

No. 1 – Believing that what worked yesterday will work today

Customers change, the world changes, brand reputations change and competition changes. Doing what used to work when everything around you is changing makes no sense. Markets and customers change quickly. You must be flexible, agile and quickly decisive.

No.  2 – Failure to innovate

In an ever-changing, increasingly competitive marketing world, brands need customer-insight-driven innovation to stay relevant. Innovations breathe life into brands. It’s important to understand that innovation and improvement are not the same thing. Innovation means doing something different. It doesn’t mean doing the same thing better.

No. 3 – A lack of focus on your core customer

The list of brands that lost focus on the core customer and suffered because of it is way too long. The key is to make sure your loyal customers don’t defect to your competitor. Research we did shows that loyal customers are eight times as valuable as someone who just considers your brand. Losing a small percentage of core customers will account for a disproportionate amount of lost income. It also will carve into your brand’s image and reputation.

No. 4 – Backtracking to the basics

Brands often talk about “getting back to the basics” when they encounter trouble. But while getting the basics right is necessary, “back to basics” is not a strategy. What got your brand to where it is today will not get it to where it needs to be tomorrow. Instead, part of your strategy must define what basic elements of the your brand’s past is still relevant. Find how it should be kept up to date and how it can be improved. Defining what elements of your brand’s past is no longer relevant.

Bad brand behavior has a disastrous effect on your business culture, employee pride and the heart and soul of your brand itself. It needs to be stopped, but stopping it isn’t enough. Your brand also needs to make positive changes if you want it to be truly revitalized.

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Global brand revitalization expert Larry Light is CEO of Arcature (, a marketing consulting company that advises a variety of marketers inpackaged goods, technology, retail, hospitality, automotive, corporate and business-to-business, as well as not-for-profit organizations. He also is co-author along with Joan Kiddon of "Six Rules for Brand Revitalization." 



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