The Complete “How does one rebuild or redevelop his brand? What are the steps?” Arc within an Arc

Note: a short, two post arc within a larger four post arc. He’s deep, that J…

How does one rebuild or redevelop his brand? What are the steps? (part 1a)

As promised in “Attract and Stick, Part 1” now available on, I’m starting a blog arc based on a series of branding questions I’ve asked repeatedly over the past few months. We’re going to start with the twofer, “How does one rebuild or redevelop his brand? What are the steps?”

There are lots of reasons for rebuilding and redeveloping a brand. Let’s consider three;

  1. the existing brand has become tarnished and now generates a negative impact in the target market,
  2. the corporation is losing market share and wants to re-establish itself in that market,
  3. the corporation is moving into new markets and wants to establish a brand in those new markets.

[[The rest of this post is lost. Anybody have a copy?]]

How does one rebuild or redevelop his brand? What are the steps? (part 1b)

The second item is easier to manage, especially for product-based businesses. Again, a spokesperson high in management is required to come forward and state something like “You knew us before and you loved us. Here we are now and you’re going to love us again because…” followed by reasons which are significant, timely and relevant to the market. These reasons have to be tied to new product releases. These new products need to be best in class but not necessarily state of the art (unless their success in the market is a foregone conclusion).

Best recent history examples of this are Steve Jobs turning Apple around (twice) and Kodak as documented in CameraGuy Keeping me Honest.

The third is something I just wrote about, Intelligent Website Design: Expand Your Market. The goal here is to carry the existing brand’s recognition into the new market. It’s not necessarily a good idea to utilize an existing brand’s dominance of a given market because they can be viewed as upstarts in the new market. It’s much wiser to brand via stating “We’re known in that area, take a look at us in this area.” This method, combined with aggressive penetration in the new market’s traditional channels, is usually successful.

How is an updated logo/brand vital?

I think the only time it’s “vital” to update a logo or brand is when one of the situations I mentioned previously occurs. That offered, updating a logo/brand when moving into a new market is indeed vital because you need something that basically states “That’s my pedigree and I’m still my own person”. The best recent example of this was Toyota’s Scion campaign.

The other uses as stated above are pretty much the same case when it comes to updating logos and brands; the need to re-establish market presence. In these cases the goal of the rebranding effort is to state “I’m from that family but I’m not one of them.” This is the old western movie scenario of the outlaw’s son proving he’s a good lawman.

How do you know if your brand/logo is out-of-date? How do you tell?

NextStage did quite a bit of research on this very issue. We documented some and not all of our findings in A New Branding Paradigm, Online and Off. Your brand/logo is out of date when your target audience no longer responds to it.

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“Attract and Stick, Part 1” now available on

I’m going to begin an arc on branding sometime next week. I think these past two months have been branding months for lots of people based on what people are contacting NextStage about.

Fortunately, all the questions provide me topics for columns and blogs. Case in point, Attract and Stick, Part 1 on I’ve been writing for for a while now and enjoying it greatly.

Attract and Stick, Part 1 deals with competition for web visitor eyeballs and I’ll bet the competition mentioned is not in a form most people think about. This competition is everything else opened on your site visitor’s computer desktop, all the other windows and interfaces that pop up, call out, ding, blink and otherwise draw their attention from what you want and need them to do.

More importantly, it’s about what you can do about it.

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Stonewall’s Findings: Tech Naming Failures

One of my regular correspondents is Stonewall, a fellow I’ve known for many years and who converts some of my intractable neuromathematics into working computer code.

He also sends me interesting things via email, as do many others. This time out he sent me Top 10 failed gadgets…with cool names and introducing: Practical Gadgetry and (I admit) I was amused (he thought I would be) and intrigued.

The list includes my all time favorite example of “We built it because we could” combined with “You don’t understand. It will ship and it will be a success”, “IT” aka the Segway.

(Early on, NextStage built a specific language engine to help us (me, at the time) understand what business people were really communicating. This became our RWB Language engine. This specific language engine has the ability to translate the business statement “You don’t understand, it will ship and it will be a success” into it’s non-euphemic, “We knows it’s a bomb and it’ll fail and we hope nobody will notice.”)

This list also includes the Apple Newton, a device simply ahead of its time (in my opinion). What tickled me the most was that the failures were often due to usability issues, and here I define Usability as its used here at NextStage.

NextStage considers eight elements in usability; Imagination, Usage, Workability, Experience, Using, Need, Pleasure and Pain. How are these eight elements aspects of Usability defined?

NextStage’s eight Usability elements determine whether or not a conversion is going to occur or not.

Can the visitor imagine a use for the product or service?

Does the visitor believe that regular use of the product or service will benefit them?

Does the visitor believe they can easily integrate the product or service into their current work methodology?

Does the visitor have prior experience with a similar product or service?

Is the visitor currently using a similar product or service?

Does the visitor recognize a need for this product or service?

Has the visitor had pleasurable experiences with similar products or services?

Has the visitor had painful experiences with similar products or services?

These eight elements have little to do with website usability and a great deal to do with whether or not the individual navigating the website believes what’s on the website will serve their needs; ie, is the product or service described on the website usable as they intend to use it? People will put up with rotten website usability if they believe there’s a reward in it. This was demonstrated in NextStage’s preliminary research into UnGoaled Persistence (fodder for another column, me thinks).

More importantly, how strongly do each of these elements influence the visitor right now while they’re on your website making a purchase decision? This is shown in the above figure and is a report all NextStage clients have access to (once we’ve trained them, of course). The above image contains three pieces of information:

  1. Yellow bar – How well does the page convey this usability element?
  2. Blue bar – How much history is the visitor bringing to this element?
  3. Red bar – How important is this element in the visitor’s decision process?

What the above chart is showing is that

  1. the most important item to the visitor is their belief that the product or service will benefit them (second red bar from left).
  2. while the visitor has had experience with similar products or services, is currently using them and acknowledges the need (4th, 5th and 6th blue bars from left) these are not as important elements to them.
  3. the visitor has had neither pleasurable nor painful experiences with similar products or services (last two missing blue bars on the right) and the possibility of pleasurable or painful experiences are very important to them (last two red bars on the right)

There’s much more that can be gleaned from the above, of course, and depending on what’s being analyzed and the web page’s intent appropriate action items and suggestions would follow.

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NextStage said Romney and it was Romney

I suspect, even as I write this, there will be some who poo-poo what I put in this post. Never-the-less, I talked with a few NextStagers (I know, it’s Sunday. I really honestly don’t work on Sundays. I don’t consider this work, though) and we all agreed that we should post it, so here goes.

On 8 July ’07, in How Politicians Want You to Think – Who’s Saying It Best, Finale, I posted the following comment: “Right now Governor Romney’s leading the field. … Right now, he’s in the lead as far as who can best be heard.

This statement was made on the basis of NextStage’s tools analyzing of Governor Romney’s messaging style — his ability to get his campaign message into the hearts and minds of the greatest number of people. The tool most used to make this prediction is NextStage’s TargetTrack tool.

For those who don’t know, Governor Romney won the Ames, Iowa straw poll last night. IE, he got his campaign message into the greatest number of hearts and minds of all those who took part in the poll.

NextStage routinely does analysis of how well the politicans are getting their messages across. Our tools correctly predicted the outcomes of the 2004 Primaries and Presidential Election months ahead of others. Call us. We’re happy to talk about it.

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The NextStageologists at the Edwards Rally

Yesterday Senator Edwards was going through New Hampshire and attending several rallies. I got an invite to one and went for much the same reasons I went to the Clinton Rally I documented in The NextStageologists at the Political Rally. NextStage makes a study of how politicians use the ‘net (and all that implies) to influence people. More specifically, NextStage analyzes how politicians want you to think, and we’ve posted some of our research and findings in this blog under Politics

This wasn’t the first time we’d seen Senator Edwards speak and one of the things we were most interested in was verifying something we’d started to notice. We weren’t sure if it was simply campaign fatigue or a genuine shift in Senator Edwards feelings about the campaign.

NextStage did go on record in How Politicians Want You to Think – Who’s Saying It Best, Finale that Senator Edwards’ campaign was doing a good job of communicating their message in a way that the populace would respond to favorably, what NextStage recognizes as the K12 Rich Personae. At that time his campaign’s strongest message was “You can see that I count” (perhaps a statement that his staff realized his campaign was not doing well in the polls) and its first message (meaning the message that people would non-consciously receive first) was either “I have a Plan” or “You can see that I have a Plan”.

Please note NextStage isn’t endorsing any candidate or political party. This material is based on our research and studies.

Observations and conjectures based on the observations:

  • The people at the rally demonstrated much more zealotry than we’ve seen elsewhere. It seems to be a matter of belief and conviction rather than political strategy or campaign
  • Senator Edwards’ communication style indicated he was not looking for your vote so much as he was looking for your belief he can change things
  • The people at the rally were mostly middle-aged. There were few young people in attendance who weren’t part of the campaign staff
  • There were no alpha individuals either in the crowd or in the campaign staff
  • Senator Edwards made eye contact and acknowledged people with a smile or nod whenever possible (excellent strategy)
  • Senator Edwards clearly demonstrated an “us/them” divisiveness” in his speech
  • A telling phrase was “…movement to change the country”
  • A telling phrase was “…when you se two presidential candidates fighting with each other…”
  • Based on the two above we concluded that Senator Edwards does not see himself as the same as the other candidates. We conjectured that he no longer sees himself as a “candidate” per se.
  • We all recognized that he willingly and openly admitted when a questioner was not going to like his response.

There were several other conclusions and conjectures. Also, we’ve begun to formulate a rally methodology that will be a strong influencer, definitely at Democratic rallies, perhaps at Republican rallies.

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