2. BRAND HEALTH
Before you go to market you need to make sure you have a healthy brand. This means that the way your brand is perceived and articulated by your consumers and employees is not only contributing to the business results you seek, but is what you intend it to be.
If you are not sure where you stand, there are many ways to determine your status. These include brand health studies, Net Promoter Scores, social listening surveys, as well as looking at your financial performance. In today’s world your brand has become a key driver of your business performance and will be a clear indicator of how healthy yours is. One way or another, considering its importance, it’s probably a good idea to review your brand’s current condition.
IT’S PROBABLY A GOOD IDEA TO REVIEW YOUR BRAND’S CURRENT CONDITION.
First you need to look at the key components that make up a meaningful, compelling brand today. That means going through a methodical, thoughtful process.
Brands are symbols, shorthand for all a consumer’s feelings and experiences; an easier way to navigate a world full of thousands of companies and products. Your logo, tagline, style guide and other visual elements are expressions of your brand, but they are not your brand. Your brand is the sum of all the ideas that define your place in the world. Old school, brute force marketing had brands trying to shout louder than their competitors, pushing features and benefits, and using media money to pound out persuasion and trial. New school is very different; consumers are talking back. They want a brand they trust, with a purpose they believe in; a brand that reflects who they are and that makes their life better and easier. Oh, and did I mention, they also want fantastic products and flawless service. There are a lot of ideas that need to fit into your brand. Getting the balance just right is the challenge.
YOUR BRAND IS THE SUM OF ALL THE IDEAS THAT DEFINE YOUR PLACE IN THE WORLD.
Consumers want to trust brands, but they are leery. That’s because we have entered a trust, but verify world. Consumers listen to brand promises, but don’t trust them until they deliver on those promises. Many companies are actually already doing this and reaping the rewards. They realize that if you can do these hard things and deliver on your promises consistently, consumers will trust you. As Jeff Bezos of Amazon says “You earn reputation by trying to do the hard things well.”
One of the hard things is actively defining and creating your brand, because if you don’t do it, someone else will do it for you; either your consumers or your competition. When you think about brands that seem to have lost their way, the list gets long pretty quickly. While their problems many be for many reasons, Nokia, Nintendo, Avon, Nescafe, HP, Dell and J.C. Penny don’t have brands that are helping them.
THERE ARE THREE ELEMENTS THAT NEED TO BE EXAMINED AND CRAFTED IN ORDER TO FORM A STRONG, HEALTHY BRAND:
The Brand Promise – the value proposition of your product aligned to the values of your organization.
The Brand Personality – the unique style and character of the way you present your brand to the world.
The Brand Identity – the integration of all the pieces of your brand into a cohesive whole.
In the next section we will breakdown these three areas into their component parts. But before we do, a useful notion that I use to check the integrity of a brand, is that a brand relationship is not unlike human relationships. People tend to use their personal relationships as a mental model for relationships with brands. Hence, the personification of brands with words like personality, character and identity. If you think about what you value in your personal relationships, it’s honesty, consistency, predictability and shared values to name a few.
A BRAND MAY NOT BE A PERSON, BUT TODAY IT HAS TO ACT LIKE A PERSON.
Like people, when we meet brands, they can dazzle us with their looks and charm, but quickly we look for substance and character. Technology and community have allowed us to connect into brands at a much deeper, more meaningful level, and have triggered an expectation of trust and substance that was never possible in our more superficial past. A brand may not be a person, but today it has to act like a person; a good person with the qualities you would want in a trusted friend.