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Does Your Brand Need Therapy?

Does Your Brand Need Therapy?

by Jenny Taaffe

Founder of izest Marketing.


As a client walked out the door of our office yesterday, she declared that working with us was like “therapy”. What she meant was that through our detailed discussions about her business, we have managed to cut through the clutter, confusion, and layers of complication that the business had built in recent years. Now she can see the light and a really bright future for her brand.

So why do so many brands need therapy?

In our experience, most companies have unhealthy brands – from start-ups to established multi-million dollar operations, and everyone in-between.  In most cases, companies are at their most pure at the setup stage, where the owners have passion, excitement, and a crystal clear vision of where they are going (but not always about how they are going to get there).

The owners, managers, or directors of most companies (successful or not) are often the instigators of complication when it comes to their business. The journey their business goes through adds layers of complication, and that initial vision gets lost. They add new business divisions, create new logos, add new product lines, open in new locations and ultimately confuse the customer and themselves in the process. They end up in a place they never set out to go.

Like most people who really need therapy, they can be in denial. They end up calling us with some small problem that they would like us to fix, or campaign they believe their business needs, and in 100% of these cases what they say they are looking for is not what their business needs. The typical stages that companies go through are…

1. Questioning & Dissatisfaction

“Something is not right”. You’ve spent money and time setting up campaigns or building a new website and it isn’t hitting the mark. Typical statements we hear from new clients:

  • “My marketing campaigns aren’t working”
  • “The last company I worked with didn’t give me the right logo/advertising/website”
  • “I need to jump on the latest social media/digital craze”

2. Searching for answers

“Am I achieving what I should be achieving?” This is a great question for any company to ask themselves on a regular basis. At this stage, many brands look to the wrong solutions when asking this question. They hire a new marketing person or take on a new agency to fix the problem. If the new hire or agency don’t ask some very fundamental questions or take the company through a brand discovery programme of sorts, money or time will be wasted here.

3. Thinking & Planning

Sometimes this process can be like an Intervention! Asking some deep questions, which may be uncomfortable, and pointing some home truths about the direction the brand is taking.  If we meet a company at this stage, we take them through our unique izest Discovery Programme. This is where the fundamentals of the business are discussed, researched, and questioned. Some of these questions include:

  • What do you do? (the average amount of time it takes most companies to answer this in one of our sessions? 2.5 hours!)
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Where are you going?
  • What do your customers think you are great at? (we will have already asked the customers this question – their answers often differ!)

The most fundamental part of this process is the eye-opening discussion around ‘what you sell’ v’s ‘what your customer buys’. For me, this is the moment that most brands understand where they have been going wrong. Selling the preverbal ‘product’ that’s on the shelves rather than selling the ‘solution’ that the customer is looking for.

The perfect example of this is the hotel industry. When I speak at industry events I ask hotel managers what are they selling? The typical answers include “our newly refurbished bedrooms” “our Christmas packages for €399pps” “our new spa facilities – they are the best!’. If you ask their potential customers what they are looking to ‘buy’ as part of their next weekend hotel break they will say “time with my husband” “a chance to put my feet up and relax” or “a break with the kids where we can all have fun.” A recent Intercontinental Hotels campaign uncovered the essence of this ‘escape’ by using a well-known quote (see below) and not showing a picture of a hotel bedroom!

Does your brand need therapy - Jenny Taaffe Founder of izest Marketing.



4. Questioning & Pain     

Following the ‘thinking and planning’ phase, often business owners or managers come back and fight against the discussions we had in our planning session. They will re-question everything they had put on the table and even decisions. They can become negative, frustrated, and unsure of where they are going. This is always a good sign. Like any form of good therapy, a healthy resistance to the process shows that progress is being made. This is the time to handle the process with care. If the questioning and debating of each challenge are handled effectively, this company will sail into the final phase.

5. Certainty & Implementation

By the time we meet our client for the final ‘therapy’ session, clarity is evident. They are sure that the decisions they have made are the right ones for the future. Why are they so sure? It’s because the key members of their team have gone through this journey and often customers are involved along the way – we are only the vehicle that got them there. Decisive action is taken, and the road map for the future is created. Everyone knows where they stand right now, and what road they are going to take next.

Like all good therapy, this process is challenging, painful at times, and so rewarding when the moments of clarity are reached!  Without going through this type of therapy (or the izest Discovery Programme as we call it!), you will never achieve your brand’s marketing potential, and you will waste a lot of money along the way.

I have seen businesses achieve amazing results after going through this process, and those results are always financial, because if your brand isn’t making you more profitable, then what’s the point?

Jenny Taaffe is the Founder of izest Marketing Group.

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