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January 10th, 2017

New Year’s Resolution—Checklist for a Healthy Brand

Happy New Year! The party is over, and hopefully so is the hangover. Time to hit the gym, start eating right again, identify the 10 books you plan to read this year, and clean out that hall closet. Sound familiar? Not bad ideas, if we can stick to them. But how about your brand resolutions? What can you do now to ensure a healthier, smarter brand for 2017? Here are three ideas proven to work.

1. Go Beyond Marketing the Brand. This Year, Live the Brand.

We talk so much about understanding the why in your brand. As the nucleus, the why guides brand foundation, strategy, and experience. But how does that permeate an organization and build culture across all audiences? It starts by living the brand. Every day. At every touch point. Your brand health is directly related to how it is perceived, both internally and in the marketplace. Therefore, as the steward of your brand, it is imperative that every representation reflects your brand purpose. Do that by creating brand experiences at every opportunity you have with your constituents, both internally and externally. If you achieve this, it can lead to profound behavioral and cultural shifts in brand perception. Keep asking yourself the question, “What would my brand do”, and let the answer guide your brand decisions.

2. Align Your Brand Strategy with Your Business Goals.

That sounds so simple. Yet it is too often neglected. What business goals have changed for the upcoming year from last January’s goals? Have you already adjusted your brand strategy to reflect these changes? Misalignment will make the first idea above very difficult. Make sure that your brand strategy for the year helps set your organization’s social, digital, trade, and consumer marketing goals. In this day of transparency, relevance can be a fleeting concept. Part of your brand’s responsibility is to help steer your organization’s choices and goals, and present them through every element. That is what becomes the brand experience. Make sure you conduct constant monitoring to maximize the connection between brand strategy, business goals, and implementation. Getting this right at the outset is critical. The road to catching up can be costly and time-consuming.

3. Be Empathetic. And Be Real.

2016 had lots of surprises. Big changes in communication have forced unforeseen and unprecedented shifts in user experiences. How does the concept of “fake news” impact your brand’s communication platform? Are your customers and consumers making decisions regarding your brand, based on factual, relevant information, or based on hearsay? You can never be too sure, so take the safe road. Remember R.S. Wurman’s quote, “To communicate you must first understand what it is like to not understand.” Your brand must empathize with its audience members or run the risk of alienating them. At the same time, your brand must be truthful. Authentic. Real. A tall order. You cannot compromise here. Brands that have found a way to communicate their beliefs, desires, and aspirations for their customers and consumers are the brands that people love. Think of Disney, and its passion for the ultimate consumer experience. Apple’s hunger for innovation that the user falls in love with, without even realizing they needed it. Or Land Rover, that captures the experiential sense of pride in ownership that is above and beyond. People want to be associated with those brands because they become a direct reflection of their beliefs and desires and aspirations.

Your brand should be one of your organization’s greatest assets. Organizational goodwill is directly proportional to brand health. Commit to make 2017 brand resolutions that deepen your brand’s relationship with your internal and external audiences. Get your brand healthy. And keep it that way.

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