We all like to feel that we have our finger on the pulse of our business. We can rattle off numbers, products in the pipeline, visitors to our web site, and the size of our marketing database. We know our biggest competitors and overall size of the category in which we sell. That’s good.
However, when I ask new clients right up front for a description of the brand—its purpose, promise, pillars, personality, and positioning—the answers aren’t quite as sure-footed. Often there are various descriptions. Some have confident answers. Some struggle. Then I ask if the description was what they thought, or what their customers thought. Hmmm. Too often we find brand descriptions are opinion. A brand description should be objective. Based on a continuous brand evaluation of the brand’s relationship with business goals and the behavior it drives.
Your brand is a living, breathing thing. It should constantly evolve within its own ecosystem to address unmet needs of customers and employees. It must be regularly evaluated to see if it’s still relevant and on message. Your brand must be cared for and nurtured or, as with any living thing, it will atrophy and die.
Your business is probably different from a year ago—size, location, reach, new products, etc. Your business plan has likely been updated to sync with changing goals. But what about your brand strategy? If it hasn’t been updated, there may already be inconsistencies in how you’re communicating your brand, both internally and externally. Or how your new products relate to older ones still on the market. Or how your employees are representing the brand.
The world that your brand lives in is fluid—always in a state of flux. Everything is transitioning from one point to another where there’s an ongoing convergence of events that may cause abrupt changes in course. As strategists and practitioners of brand science, this is abundantly clear in our everyday work with clients. Maintaining a constant state of evaluation is critical to the long-term health and wellness of your brand. Here is how you do it.
First, always look inward—ask yourself if your brand’s purpose has changed? Is your positioning where you want it to be? Is your promise still relevant? Are you reflecting your brand’s pillars throughout the organization? Remember, the entire organization is responsible for brand governance, not just the marketing department.
Once you’ve evaluated your brand internally and made appropriate corrections, look at your customer-facing brand applications. These are some key areas to look at when evaluating your brand:
- Brand Communication—Is your messaging reflective of your brand’s pillars, the compelling truths, and is it still part of your positioning?
- Brand Experience—Are the touchpoints of your brand consistent and emotive? Do they feel like they are coming from the same business and same perspective?
- Brand Identity—Is your visual identity still relevant? Does it represent the essence of your brand? Is it consistently applied across all areas of communication: web, social, print, fleet, trade, consumer?
- Product Development—Is your visual brand language unified throughout your product line? Is it synced up with your packaging, point of sale, and visual merchandising?
In the near future we’ll examine the entire brand ecosystem, including product development, internal brand culture, human resources, and brand, customer service, etc.
When you constantly and consistently evaluate your brand it gives you more control and influence over the meaning, value, preference, and behavior that your brand commands. And deserves.