The Latest from FosterResearch: 5 Indicators a Brand is in Trouble

March 31, 2017 // Justin Foster // No Comments // Posted in 21st Century Branding

By Justin Foster

FosterResearch is my tongue-in-cheek term for observational analysis. It gently pokes fun at the extensive projects done by research firms that usually just confirm the math on what we all know intuitively. Although my research here is anecdotal, I’m certain it is still accurate. You can add your own statistical analysis šŸ™‚

Over my career, I’ve had been exposed to a huge variety and range of companies – from Fortune 10 orgs to the literal guy working from a garage. This exposure has given me a broad anthropological spectrum with a number of consistent patterns – especially related to leadership (or lack thereof), culture and marketing.

With that as a back drop, I present to you FosterResearch’s latest study …

5 Indicators a Brand is in Trouble.

  1. Bad Hair. My research shows that bad hair is the leading indicator of a brand that’s in trouble. Why? It shows: 1) a low EQ leader and 2) a culture that doesn’t tell this leader that he/she has bad hair. Here’s the strange paradox of low EQ leaders: they are obsessive about image, yet they are unaware of their own behavior. They seem to be the most oblivious that the org’s brand has gone as stale as … well, their hair style! Emily and I recently did a webinar on this very topic.
  2. Beige Cars. Research shows that the more beige cars in the parking lot, the more likely the brand is in trouble. Beige cars are the leading indicator of a company culture that is no longer doing anything innovative. And is only attracting employees and customers that drive beige cars. One more statistic: if there are a few beige luxury cars and a lot beige beaters, it also indicates an income disparity that is causing the company to bleed talent.
  3. Motivational Posters. The FosterResearch study shows that the more motivational posters a company has, the more toxic the culture. Apparently posters of people rowing together along with an over-used motivational quote is, in fact, de-motivational. The same applies to those internal comm posters that remind everyone of the company’s core principles, value proposition, brand promise, blah blah.
  4. Dirty Bathrooms. The research reveals that companies with dirty bathrooms are in deep trouble with their brands. Dirty bathrooms show low standards – and very likely a leadership team that is too cheap to have them professionally cleaned on a regular basis. When the bathrooms are messy, it’s an indicator of other messy areas in the brand. In fact, there’s an 80% overlap between companies with gross bathrooms and with gross websites. That is completely made up statistic that’s still probably true.
  5. Sloganeering. The language a brand uses is a leading indicator of their health and relevance. And there’s nothing more sickly for a brand than sloganeering. Jingles, one-liners, tag lines – all interchangeable; not only with the competition but with any other brand in any industry. Sloganeering not only shows a lack of creative effort – it also shows a general dumbing down of a brand’s message. And, not coincidentally, shows up on the company’s motivational posters.

Stay tuned for the next FosterResearch report. This one is an extensive study on the correlation between people who like pop country music and people who don’t put away their grocery carts.


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