The world changes. People change. Technology, tastes and times change. If you want your company to have any staying power, you must regularly re-evaluate and, if necessary, tweak your branding strategy in order to ride these waves of change and keep your brand identity above water.
To effectively evaluate your brand in the marketplace, look at how your company is perceived from both the inside (as an employee) and the outside (as a customer). Your brand needs to keep up with the times if you want it to keep up with your customers.
Examine Your Brand from the Inside
Start examining your brand by looking at your official documents. What is your mission statement? How is your mission different from those of your competitors? How closely does your company’s output adhere to your mission statement? The answers to these questions can serve as your starting point — providing insight into your business and the culture you expect to find as you continue your evaluation.
Next, talk to your employees. Make sure to get input from a wide range of employees, from C-suite executives to mailroom clerks and from long-time employees to recent hires. Elicit their opinions about what the company stands for and how the company is unique. Since part of your branding includes the company logo, motto, fonts and other physical properties, ask for opinions about them as well.
Examine your competitors, too. Read online reviews, examine their mission statements and even purchase some of their products to see how your products compare. Ultimately, you want your brand to set you apart from those competitors. You really need to understand what they’re doing so you can understand how to do something different.
Examine Your Branding Strategy from the Outside
The greatest part of branding is what customers and potential customers think of your business, what they expect from it and what emotions it evokes. Try to look at your brand from a customers’ perspective. Is your company easy to find and easy to work with? Connect discreetly with your customer service department to determine if it is delivering on your company’s promises. Find the points where customers connect with employees: Are the employees as professional, polite and responsive as you would expect?
To truly understand how customers feel about your brand, you need to ask them. Direct questions don’t always lead to the best results, so ask open ended or indirect questions to get a better feel for people’s true feelings. Try asking questions like these:
- When you think of our product, what three adjectives come to mind first?
- Rank these adjectives according to how well they describe our company.
- What types of problems would you use our company to help you solve?
- If our company were a rock band, what band would it be? Why?
- What other images does our logo make you think of?
Bringing it All Together
Now compare the information you collected from inside and outside your company and compare it with your mission statement and your original perception of the company’s brand. Also, assetss how it stacks up to your vision for the company. You may find that, in some areas, the image you want to project lines up with the image that customers are actually receiving. In these areas, your branding is doing just fine and doesn’t need to be tweaked. But in other areas, you may find disconnects. When you come upon these, decide whether to alter your branding to match what you find or change part of your business to alter the perception of your brand. This could be as simple as rethinking your logo design or as complicated as replacing an outdated customer service funnel.
The key to having a great branding strategy is consistency throughout your company, so put a major focus on the promises your company makes and assetss whether or not you’re delivering on those promises. No matter what that promise is — more energy, support for charities, spotless dishes — the minute something or someone in your company does not follow through on that promise, your brand takes a hit.
By regularly re-evaluating how the world sees your brand, you can identify where you’re falling short and correct your course.