I’m a pretty big fan of the term “set it and forget it”. It can be used across a variety of disciplines, and it makes everything simple: simply do something once, and don’t worry about it again.
Of course, in this day and age, with technology advancing rapidly and the internet changing the world as we know it, “set it and forget it” is becoming all too familiar for brands and businesses, as well as individuals.
What about when it comes to your brand itself? Your company’s identity, the way your company is perceived by your target audience. Once you have a logo, some colors, and a slogan, that’s all there is to it, right?
WRONG! Your brand is your reputation, and it requires constant management and evaluation. Companies who don’t continuously monitor their brand can miss out on vital changes and upgrades that occur with their target audience. Missing such information could even harm the business permanently.
Have you ever heard of a brand “pivot”? A pivot is a substantive change in an area (or areas) of a brand’s business model. This could be changing the target audience, changing product offerings, rebranding logos, etc. This is done because successful companies are always monitoring and tweaking their brand. Oftentimes, doing so can take a brand to new heights in record time.
So how can you audit your brand and ensure that it’s doing its job? Glad you asked. Read below to find 8 crucial questions you should ask when analyzing the strength of your brand.
1) Who are the customers? By whom this brand is valued?
When you launched your brand, did you have a specific target market (the answer better be HELL YES)? If so, analyze your sales and see who’s been purchasing your product/service. Is the largest group of your customers still aligned with the demographic of your original target market? If not, you need to rethink your marketing strategy and maybe tweak your product/service to cater to those who actually purchase from you.
2) What is so special about your brand? Why do people buy from you?
People buy from brands they recognize for many reasons: price, convenience, quality, location, etc. You need to determine the advantages your brand has over your competitors, and cater to those strengths. The best way to do this? SURVEY YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS! Shoot them emails (you ARE collecting email addresses, right?) and thank them for buying. Then ask them what they like/love about your brand. Then ask them how you can improve. Analyze your unique strengths by polling your customers.
3) What do people associate your brand with? What do they expect from you?
Let’s ask this a different way: “what is my brand’s stereotype amongst our market?” Target and Wal-Mart are in the same business, but people view them in completely different fashions. Same could be said for Natural Light and Blue Moon (I’m a big beer drinker- don’t judge). Find out how your product/service is viewed in your marketplace. Doing so will allow you to correctly target your marketing efforts and cater to the right crowd.
4) What’s the current reach of your brand?
Asking this question is one of the best ways to determine marketing strategies moving forward. If you sell products/services online, obviously your reach is much greater than having a local brick-and-mortar store. Where are your customers purchasing from? Maybe your company can benefit from marketing in other major cities located in close proximity to you? Do you want to get more international business? Your brand can’t grow if it’s only recognized in one town, so analyze your reach and adjust your efforts accordingly.
5) Do you have loyal clients and/or repeat customers? If so, how can you reward them?
I’m a HUGE advocate for customer loyalty programs. This is the single-best-way to keep customers coming back for more. When you look at your sales reports, do you see a lot of repeat customers? If not, that is a HUGE problem and the first thing I would address if I were you. Putting in place a simple customer rewards program not only shows your customers that you value their business, it also incentivizes them to come back. For example, I eat Chipotle three days a week. I do that no matter what. But last summer (2016) when they rolled out a loyalty program, I ate there on average four days per week. Over the entire summer, that was 15 EXTRA visits! if you have loyal customers, reward them. If you don’t, you better find a way to get some.
6) How are you different than your competitors? Can you promote this difference in a more consistent, positive light?
Competition is at a premium in this age of digital information and business. It’s now more important than ever to differentiate yourself from your competitors while highlighting the advantages that make you unique. Is your website better than your competitors? Invest in SEO to get more eyes on it. Are your prices better? Advertise markdowns. Do you have a better staff of employees? Promote your social media pages and let your employees contribute. You need to identify how your different (and hopefully better) than your competition and then make that the cornerstone of your marketing efforts.
7) Is your brand consistent across all touchpoints?
Brand recognition is an important aspect of creating a strong brand. The worst thing you can do is be inconsistent when your audience is seeing your brand on different mediums. Your logo on your storefront should be the same as on your website. Your fonts and colors should be the same on flyers and pamphlets as they are online. Your brand voice should be consistent with digital marketing ads and social media. Does your brand lack consistency? If so, fix the problem and you may find your customers more trustworthy and loyal.
8) Is the purpose of the brand clearly defined?
Does your brand have a clearly defined set of values that are practiced without compromise? Your products, services, customer interactions, employees, etc., must all be on the same page and cohesive with your vision. If your brand’s purpose isn’t clearly defined, then the direction of the business won’t be either.
Evaluating your brand is like examining your car- if you are having issues, you need to analyze certain parts to determine where the issue lies. Maybe your oil is low. Maybe your starter is shot. Maybe you need a catalytic converter. In order for the car to run smoothly, the parts need to each function correctly and in sync with the overall path of the car. Your brand is no different.
If you have a business that is established but struggling, you may want to look at these factors. After some success, brands can lose sight of what got them to that point. Sometimes they introduce too many new products. They may stop marketing with the same tenacity that they used to. They may get lazy with their blog or their website or their social media accounts. Auditing your brand on a consistent basis will allow you to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the success your brand is having.
Ask yourself these questions, and you could very well identify opportunities to strengthen your brand and grow your business.