How to fix a broken brand when customer beliefs shift

A light bulb being replaced

It is vital for marketing and brand leaders to have the ability to quickly develop a brand story and strategy that builds brand value and customer engagement, addressing complex issues in real time.

Customer insights underpin effective brand strategies and help organisations differentiate. However, research and data gathering takes precious time, money and resources. In many cases, brands facing disruptive pressures such as healthy competition, emerging technologies or rapidly changing customer needs are unable or unwilling to give brand strategy the time and space required.

The below questions can help marketers identify issues and develop an adequate brand strategy:

  • How can marketers perform real-time surgery on a broken brand?
  • How can we quickly identify why our brand is broken?
  • What does it take to move quickly from insight to action?

By considering these and using the unique brand storytelling framework developed in Beliefonomics, marketers can gain a better understanding of brand strategy and how to identify a broken brand.

What is a brand?

Before exploring the above, we must understand what a brand is and determine what is broken. To put it simply, a brand is the name of the product that lives inside the hearts and minds of consumers. Essentially, every brand is a customer story. Like a mirror, brands must show customers they understand a set of shared values, beliefs and future aspirations.

What is a broken brand?

A broken brand, like a broken mirror, occurs when this shared vision is no longer visible. When a customer story does not exist, an issue becomes bigger than just fixing a logo or inventing a new tagline – but taking a closer look at the customer story can steer you in the right direction. You need to ask yourself: How can the brand better reflect the belief systems and expectations of customers?


Marketers and brand leaders can choose to follow different frameworks which suit their style best. The first one is the Beliefonomics Brand Storytelling framework. The first step is the ‘Belief Moment’, which is used to gain insights about the broken brand.

What is a ‘Belief Moment’?

A Belief Moment is a story told by a brand — or indeed anyone else — that engages our hearts and minds. This story, told in any format or via any channel, can move audiences and change their worldview. Moved intellectually and emotionally by a story we cannot ignore, belief moments move us through stages of a Belief Journey from unbelief towards belief, or vice versa. What is rarely considered is that our values, beliefs and worldviews are always changing, maturing and evolving.

As such, the six stages of the Belief Journey help leaders identify how well aligned customers are with the central value proposition, story or narrative that underpins your brand.

These stages are unbelief, reconsider, stress, seek, truth and belief.

In addition to Beliefonomics, another useful framework to utilise is the ‘Think, Feel, Do’ model (TFD). TFD answers these questions: how should this creative make someone feel? What do we want them to think about? What should they do next?

Developing a new story target

To develop a new brand story, marketers and brand leaders can apply the above insights from Beliefonomics and Think, Feel, Do.

The individual marketer, or, ideally, a diverse team of brand representatives, gather to imagine what stories should be told to engage customers in new, relevant ways.

This brand story should be written as a creative brief. It could be for execution by an in-house team or external agency. Either way, it should bring together your insights and outline a story that creates a Belief Moment, engaging hearts and minds.

This is just one approach on fixing a broken brand.

Originally published by Henry Stewart Publications in the Journal of Brand Strategy Volume 10, Number 3.

Written by: Mark Jones.

For more information visit: Brand Storytelling, Communications & Marketing