The Marketing Contrarian: Before you shell out for that brand makeover

By JC Bourque | Jun 30, 2018

When you engage a new marketing company, it's not unusual for them to suggest a brand makeover or, at minimum, a "freshening" of it. Some marketing people consider themselves geniuses who can create such compelling work that you won't need your sales force any longer.

The marketing industry is notorious for big egos, so much in fact, that someone in the business created The Egotist Network, regional websites where ad geniuses can post their work and snipe at one another. The bigger the ego, the less of your marketing budget gets applied in ways that help grow your business, because these people produce work to impress one another instead of selling your product.

A brand makeover can generate a lot of work for the marketers, and you might be tempted to go along with the suggestion because you've been looking at your logo, advertisements, and sales materials for a long time. It's easy to assume that because you're tired of your branding, everyone else is, too.

But, unless you've been conducting a huge marketing campaign for quite some time, it's more likely that your audience has not been exposed to your brand often enough to be fatigued by it. Which means that most of your potential new customers are seeing your brand for the first time -- and it's just as fresh for them as as it was for you when you first used it.

You should be wary of marketing professionals who suggest graphic design modifications before learning about your business challenges. Marketers often attribute much more importance to design and copywriting than these aspects deserve. A slick and clever presentation can't convince anyone if it's not in front of the right people. Maybe that brand makeover money could be better spent somewhere else in the marketing landscape.

Here's a question to ask yourself before altering your brand: How much does my brand contribute to sales?

If you make a consumer product, branding has the potential to make or break you. Great branding will help tell the story behind your product -- and you should invest the resources to make it as good as it can be.

On the other hand, if you're a contract manufacturer making parts for other products, it's likely that quality, pricing, turnaround, and reputation will be the attributes that keep your customers coming -- and coming back. In that case, communicating those values is more important than image-building.

There is no formula that a marketer can offer that will work for everyone. You deserve a marketing partner will take a fresh look at your business climate and help you tell your story the right way, to the right audience. And if you're already getting it mostly right, they should be willing to help you polish your message -- even if it means less billable work.

So, the first rule of good marketing might be: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

JC Bourque is a 40-year veteran of the marketing field and has produced work in real estate development, banking, public utilities, healthcare, direct marketing, automotive aftermarket, food and beverage, and many other sectors. He is a partner in the Denver firm Heppner + Bourque, specializing in manufacturing, technology and industrial marketing.