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The 10-step branding health check

February 14, 2017

Organisations often take the health of their brands for granted. Just like with the health of our bodies, it’s all too easy to assume everything is OK and put off until tomorrow the changes that deep down we ought to be making today. Brands also need a systematic health check from time to time. Here are 10 key considerations when the time comes to check the pulse of your brand.

1)        Does your organisation own a single big idea?

A well-conceived and well-articulated brand should be able to explain itself within a single word or phrase: a potent idea that is beautifully applicable to the business it serves.

2)        If you asked various team members to define the brand, would you get the same answer? Or at least the same range of ideas?

Do you and the broader team around you have a unified view of what your brand represents? Words, values and language are all such a complex human science: the same word or value can mean a multitude of different things to different people. In the absence of a clear brand idea, the likelihood is your team will find their own way of defining the brand. 

3)        When was the last time you asked your customers what they value most in you?

Many communication teams believe they understand their target audience, yet in a new study by IBM, nearly 80% of consumers felt that brands really didn’t know them.

4)        Does your Big Idea connect with what your customers value?

If you are in a competitive market, such disconnects simply cost you. Those costs will spiral unless feedback loops are used to reshape business processes to ensure that customers are actually feeling your brand’s emotive connection.

5)        Can your team apply the Big Idea to every decision they might make?

It is simple to find out whether your internal team ‘gets’ the big idea: focus in on decisions they have made (big or small) and ask them to justify why they chose the routes they did. Observe their language and any frame of reference they may use in their justifications. If they use the language of the brand (and it all stacks up) then you’re in a great place. If their answers are detached from the brand’s purpose then you can immediately recognise gaps that will call for a review of whether training is aligned to your brand’s purpose. This is just as applicable to a secretary as it is to every delivery man, sales person, product developer and everyone else in your organisation.

6)       Can you list 10 demonstrations of your Big Idea that your business has delivered in your last quarter? 

To answer this, you need stories. Stories are the life-blood of a brand’s ongoing emotive connection with the people they serve. Stories act as demonstrations of how the brand is alive and well with your organisation.

7)        What is the simplest way you can begin a consistency programme for how your brand is being delivered, today?

If you have no a mechanism for capturing stories within your team then you’re missing moments every day that could reinforce your brand culture, and the motivational potency they can generate. On a quarterly basis, you could be reviewing the stories captured and seeing where they may be inconsistencies in how the brand is being delivered.

8)       Should your brand’s big idea evolve, or always remain the same?

The basic answer is that it must remain the same. However, a brand’s promise (Big Idea) has to be high enough in human aspiration to stretch our imaginations. ‘Brand Stretch’ is a really interesting aspect of business design and brand development. Your promise will speak of your innate strength and competitive edge. If the same strength can be applied to different products or services (without breaking the promise) then brands do stretch (and in this context, yes it can evolve).

9)       How do I know which entity to co-brand with, that will add value to the end experience?

It is becoming more and more common for brands to collaborate. It’s happening on the music scene all the time, with artists featuring other artists as a way to add dimension to the sound and genre of their music. The attraction for doing so is huge: double your database, share your costs, extend your reach into untapped markets. The answer to whether a brand should co-brand with another has to come down to values and purpose. If there is a genuine connection between one brand’s belief principle with that of another then such executions can be very powerful.

10)  How can your brand inform your customer experience?

If a brand is a promise delivered consistently, then every touchpoint needs to reflect that promise. To the enlightened, this begins a process of design and innovation, because once you know what you stand for in life then every decision you are faced with regarding your customer’s experience simply has to be the best manifestation of your promise in that moment. When decisions are informed by your brand’s promise then it’s as if the white noise of other possibilities fades and you get a clear and instinctive connection with what is ‘on brand’ and what is ‘off brand’.

This article draws on the ISOC knowledge base for Brand Management.

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