What is the skill that a brand owner must have? This question may be easy to answer because we all know that a brand owner, someone who concurrently as a leader must also have excellent skills in communication, organization, mentorship, and problem-solving. However, if this question can be asked more specific into: What kind of problem-solving skills should a leader have? This may take a longer time to answer.

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The brand owner is a decision-maker. He needs to be able to make the right decision even in an urgent situation. This is certainly not an easy thing to do, because there are many things at stake in every decision. That is why the brand owner needs to have high sensitivity in seeing problems. This is where it is important that a leader has the ability to distinguish between symptoms and root causes. What makes them distinctive?

There will always be challenges in running a business. Whether it’s declining sales, creative block, management problems, and many more. However, brand owners need to be aware, not all problems are the root causes or the real ones. Often, problems that arise on the surface are just symptoms. If we make an analogy, this issue is similar to a patient who goes to the doctor. He or she may have a cough, fever, sneezing, and that’s what they would have told to the doctor. From doctors’ perspective, these are all the symptoms, not a disease. Doctors need to make a series of observations before finally making a diagnosis. These symptoms could be caused by the flu or even by the virus. The treatment will be certainly different, right?

This is also applicable in a business. If your business has a decline in sales, is the solution would always be promotion? A massive discount? Your site traffic dropped drastically? Do you have to increase the content production? These kinds of problems are always seen on the surface and are the easiest to recognize. However, these are usually just the symptoms, not the real root causes. To find the right solution, business owners need to identify the root causes instead of the symptoms.

The Differences Between Symptoms and Root Causes

Sometimes, it is not easy to distinguish between symptoms and root causes. If not taken care to cautiously, brand owners could mistakenly identify the symptoms as the root causes and vice versa. Therefore, sensitivity is needed in understanding a problem, especially in managing the brand. Business owners can use these simple steps to recognize the difference between them, namely:


-Symptoms are indications, not the real root cause.

-Symptoms are usually less specific and difficult to categorize.

- Like any disease, symptoms are usually recurrence when it is not treated based on the cause.

Root causes:

-Unlike symptoms, the root causes are not easily identified especially in the early stages. Therefore, in-depth observations are needed to identify it.

-The same symptoms can be caused by different root causes, depending on the issue context.

-The root causes are usually specific and can be categorized.

Finding the Root Causes, Finding the Right Solution 

It may create a productive impression when we try to solve an issue that is actually just a symptom. However, when the problem is continuously occurs and causes other problems, brand owners need to evaluate the solutions that have been used so far. At this point, brand owners usually just realize that there is a bigger problem faced by the brand.

Regardless, when we cure the symptoms, it would only give a short- term solution. When we have not found a disease, or in this case the root cause, then the symptoms can recur at any time. Companies can make a loss if the solution is just to address the symptoms because so many costs have been spent for AB testing solution but the problems remain unsolved. This kind of trial and error problem solving can also slow down the pace of the business growth.

How to identify the root cause, then?

Brand owners need to take a step back so they can be as objective as they can in order to not make any reactive decisions. Always assume that the problem is just a symptom. Treating symptoms will certainly be more costly. Your problems may quickly be resolved but will recur in the future. This means you have to spend more money, right?

Thus, in-depth observations are needed to identify what kind of issues are actually being faced. One of the easiest and simplest ways to find out the root cause is to repeat the “why” question.

Start with the big questions: Why does this problem can occur? Go through each answer to that question and then ask other questions, such as: What is the cause? Where did this problem start? How can this problem occur?

Another thing to note, one of the characteristics when you only solve problems that are constantly happening due to symptoms are the recurring issue. In fact, the problem can be bigger and more complex due to mistreatment. If this happens, then Doers need to make a chronology in order to find out where does the problem comes from and its effects.

It may take a long process, you need to constantly ask questions. However, this method is much more effective because you are finding the root cause. Unlike the symptoms that appear on the surface, the root cause is usually located at the bottom layer of problems that need to be dug into in-depth to find it.

There are tons of solutions to solve your problem. You can even find it everywhere, on social media, blogs, websites, but the question is: which solution is the most appropriate? Keep in mind Doers, in order to get the right answer, you need to ask the right question first. Instead of reactively solving the problems, find the root cause so you can come up with an effective and efficient solution.

Basicludo is a strategic brand consultant who has experience in managing brands. If Doers have difficulties in identifying the root cause, please contact us through 1 on 1 consultancy to find the right solution.