In 2016, Alfa Romeo sold 528 vehicles in the USA, and in 2017, that figure shot up to 12,031, thanks to the launch of the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio models. But the turnaround of Alfa’s fortunes wasn’t just down to a new compact luxury sedan and a sporty crossover SUV in their lineup, but to what these cars represented for the brand.
Alfa has had moments of brilliance interspersed by an exasperating number of false starts over the years.
Yet, Alfa has survived poor quality, uninspiring Fiat-based cars, and other setbacks and maintains an extraordinary amount of goodwill from car enthusiasts the world over.
But goodwill isn’t enough to keep a brand alive. Carmakers also need to make money and the Giulia and Stelvio were brilliant designs in their own right, with superb performance, many features, stunning styling, and powerful engine choices, all at a competitive MSRP in comparison to class rivals.
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They weren’t just new models, they were a fresh start and a return to form for Alfa Romeo. While practical attributes like fuel economy and an affordable base model were important, the cars had to feel, look, and drive like purebred Alfa Romeo – which they do.
Why You Need To Refresh Your Brand
Alfa Romeo has had to reinvent itself somewhat to reflect the traditional Alfa values and shed the image of being stuck in a rut. In this case, Alfa bears many similarities to Cadillac, which had to reinvent as well or face its demise. After decades of failures that included its maligned diesel V8, the subpar Cimarron compact sedan, the uninspired Catera, and the disappointing Allanté convertible, it was arguably the Escalade full-size SUV that made the brand relevant again with a car that Americans wanted to buy. Small businesses should learn from these stories.
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Here are a few sure signs that you probably need to revitalize your brand:
- Your brand has become outdated and seems irrelevant to your customers’ tastes
- There is a discontinuity between your brand’s offline and online branding
- Your brand is no longer connecting with your correct target audience
- Your brand’s growth is stalling and it’s affecting its bottom line
- Your brand is lacking – or has lost – a clear future vision
What You Can Do To Revitalize Your Brand
In a bid to reinvent your brand and keep it relevant in a modern era, you would have to go through several steps:
- Identify the problem. Think about your business’ performance objectively and try to remember how it was run when it still made good money. Has competition increased? Have you not kept pace with customer demands? List all the changes that were made after the business was still profitable to identify what led to the decline.
- Overhaul your marketing. You might be stuck in the previous century with an irrelevant and outdated marketing strategy. Are you reaching customers where they find themselves? Is your business online? Is it marketing on social media? Is it leveraging the sales channels that the always-connected customer uses? If your marketing strategy is irrelevant, customers will believe that you and your business are too.
- Manage your cash flow. In the midst of a financial crisis, you need to control costs, but this does not have to mean laying off staff. Consider where you can save and reduce overheads without cutting staff and affecting morale. Cut spending unprofitable projects and spend on ones that offer good returns. If your offering is good and popular, a slight price increase won’t scare people away. Consider other ways to raise money to weather the storm.
- Seek outside help. Sometimes, the best way to get an objective view is to get one from someone outside your business. Talk to experts in accounting and marketing to find out what the industry is doing and get feedback from customers to determine where your efforts fall by the wayside. It will help you to approach your business’ problems more objectively.
- Change your business model. If necessary, change your business model. Times and markets change and business models become outdated overnight. Modify or change your products or services to stay relevant. The motoring industry again has many great examples of this. Brands like Porsche, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin have introduced SUVs that would appear to be contrary to their brands, but these cars are now driving their profits. Clearly, the market wants a Porsche with a big back seat and lots of cargo space if it retains enough of the traditional Porsche values. If done right, a change of philosophy can be a good thing.
Conclusion – The Moral Of The Story
The stories of brands that have rested on their laurels and became irrelevant overnight are numerous and serve as a warning to all business owners. In order to avoid becoming the next BlackBerry, PanAm, or Blockbuster Video, we have to keep up with the times and change our businesses in tune with the changing market. Keep your eye on the future and change pace as necessary, because it’s a lot easier to keep up than to catch up. Continued success isn’t automatic and a brand reboot might be just the right medicine.