Posted inBranding

8 Warning Signs a Company is Heading Into Decline


When a company stops growing and evolving, they’re at risk of becoming extinct. Agile and small companies today, are land-grabbing from more established organizations that are slow to adapt to the modern realities of doing business today.

The future is guaranteed to no one business. Below are a few of the warning signs that an organization may be facing decline.

1. Dated Branding

Your image is your first impression. And like it or not, people use it as a gauge if they want to work with you. Whether it is how a CEO conducts themselves or an organization that is still using a logo that looks like it’s from the ’80s, presentation matters.

When I used to sell software to hotels, most were constantly renovating and updating their lobbies to stay ahead of the curve, in order to set the right first impression when a guest walked into their establishment. Hospitality leaders know that guests innately connect with the experience when they first walk in.

Branding works similarly. I once worked for a company that refused to update its branding and give up an archaic legacy that simply wasn’t working anymore. It was really bad. All of the employees knew it, but the CEO wouldn’t face the music. Not coincidentally, this same company was struggling to attract new business. Passé branding can communicate out-of-date thinking or lost touch, as it did in this case. These are the same companies that eventually disappear into the abyss like Kodak, for failing to adapt to the realities of the changes around them.

2. Lack of a Strategic Direction from Senior Leadership

People need to know what they are working towards consistently and regularly. Values and vision go hand-in-hand. When a company adopts a new strategic direction, it is critical that it is communicated throughout the organization. Your human capital wants to know what is going on and how their role will be impacted.

3. Your Message and Mission No Longer Suit Your Business

Are you attracting your ideal prospects? Does your presentation help you convert more business? Updating your value proposition to reflect who you are trying to attract as your target market, will help you to align better in sales engagements. Help prospects have a better understanding of what it is that you have to offer them.

4. Management is Being Secretive and Behaving Questionably

The strategy for an organization should not be kept a secret. Employees need to know what is going on and what they are working towards. One of the biggest reasons for turnover in any company is due to a lack of communication or basic respect as a result of poor management. How decisions are made directly reflects on the culture of an organization. Decisions that are made with a lack of integrity will eventually erode a business, leading to a toxic culture and high turnover.

5. Ride or Die Employees Are Jumping Ship

Nothing says this is a bad place to work like unfair office politics or a lack of transparency from senior leadership. An indicator that things are starting to turn south, is when the original company evangelists are starting to quit collectively. If it seems that the organization has a revolving door, then the chances are it isn’t a great place to work and something isn’t quite right with either the current management or the organization as a whole.

6. Management Isn’t Listening to Employee Feedback and Ideas Anymore

Anyone that you work with will always want to be respected and have their voice heard. Often the most important strategic recommendations come from employees themselves. Being a good leader means that you have to listen to your team and seek their input on future plans and projects. Perhaps they will have a more efficient way to complete a task or have a strategy that can save a failing project. When management doesn’t listen to their team members, they will no longer share their valuable input and will stop caring.

7. Lack of or Inability to Attract New Customers

Businesses cannot survive solely off of their current clients only. If an organization cannot attract or close new business, there is clearly something wrong with the image or reputation of the firm. Generally, this is often due to the service or product being offered no longer being competitive in the market anymore or because the company in question’s branding is so out of date that it is completely out of touch with prospective customers. Or perhaps word has gotten out that it isn’t a good company to work with.

8. Lack of Digital Presence

Businesses today need to be on the web and in control of what is being said about them while offering digital assets that will help create trust and revenue opportunities through a value exchange with content. Having a stale online presence is also a threat to a business. Prospects are watching. If your website is not attracting or developing leads, it is time to do something about it. Collecting, managing and responding to online reviews is also a pertinent part of maintaining your online reputation.

Is your company facing any of these challenges that can disrupt and challenge the sustainability of your future?

Stay tuned for part II on how you can fight decline by innovating and creating a new strategic marketing plan that helps you adapt to your current climate.

If it’s time for your organization to undergo a little strategic reinvention, contact us to arrange a consultation to discuss your business goals.

Suzanne Huber has been a marketing and business development consultant to hundreds of organizations over the last decade. Developing and implementing innovative marketing strategies that take organizations to their next level of growth, while building enduring relationships in the process.