Such a simple question can have a myriad of answers. This month, we’ll look at ways you can discover clues to potential issues of a qualitative nature. Next month, we’ll discuss some of the best quantitative metrics to uncover potential problems with your brand. Over my career, I’ve always tried to get out in the market very early in a new assignment and meet with customers and the sales team. I was far less concerned with logos, slogans, or creative ads. I listen to the messages about the brand and product portfolio.
Mixed messages are a brand killer
It only takes a few market visits with the sales team to identify whether you have a strong brand identity. Taking the time to let sales lead a few meetings, with current or potential customers, can tell you whether they have a consistent understanding of the brand’s value or are adapting to each customer. Similarly, I would occasionally find positioning would vary significantly in different markets around the country. For example, we would lead as a premium quality lifestyle brand in some markets and then hear mixed messages around value or time savings in other markets.
In addition to listening to your sales teams, it’s critical to pose probing questions to customers about your brand. When do you use or specify our brand? What challenges do we not solve compared to other competitors? Too often, people will ask what do you like about our brand? Unfortunately liking or being aware isn’t the same as making purchases. As you go through this exercise, it is imperative to document your findings to be able to start the next part of your brand audit. The following table gives a picture of some initial findings and can help you start to develop a better picture of your brand’s messaging.
Understanding the difference between creative and positioning
The next area that can be reviewed quickly is an audit of all your advertising tactics. What we often see is a brand tagline that is utilized everywhere but then begin to send out different types of messaging through various tactics. This isn’t always an issue since sometimes you may have more transactional ads encouraging purchases at a certain time of year. What we do not want to see is a random hodgepodge of messages.
It’s important to remember that customers will interact with you across many platforms from your website and email to print ads and brand positioning should remain consistent in their minds. Certainly, there will be different looks and creative in some areas, but you don’t want to promote quality and luxury on your website and print and then consistently run email and social campaigns that target sales and value offerings. For an example of what not to do, look at what Macy’s and some other retailers have become? The chart below shows a summary of how we can capture this high-level view of your brand.
In short order, you can begin to see if you have a strong consistent brand message or if you have begun to send mixed messages out to the market. At Rand Inc., we feel this is critical to helping businesses get the most from their investment in their brands. If you would like to discuss this further or consider a brand assessment, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org