When brands reach the tipping point where sales begin to slide because customers no longer resonate with the brand’s value proposition, it’s time to put your finger on the pulse of your brand and determine the long-term outlook for brand health.
Brands have life cycles. They begin with excitement and promise, enter their growth phase, reach a plateau, and then slowly lose relevance as customers move on to the latest and greatest new thing. This is as natural as life itself. That’s why it’s a good idea to monitor brand health along the way–before sales slip.
Brand managers these days are heads down managing the urgent daily business of the brand. Rarely are they offered the opportunity to step back and make an informed high altitude assessment of brand health.
A comprehensive brand audit will often reveal new grow opportunities for your brands, and new ways to make your brand resonate with a new generation of target customers who will represent your brand’s bigger future.
If you believe your brand could use a check up, take the time to make a close examination of the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats facing brand health. A comprehensive brand audit will include a thoughtful examination of the following:
External Partners and Customers
This includes your distribution channel partners, independent sales reps, strategic supplier partners and — most importantly — your customers. Using social media tools is a very effective way to monitor brand health with partners and customers.
Gaining deep insight and understanding of how all stakeholders within your organization perceive the brand’s value proposition and meaning is important because they’re in direct contact with customers; and it’s equally important for management, product development, manufacturing and other groups within the organization to have a clear picture of what the brand stands for.
Since your brand doesn’t live in a vacuum, it’s often instructive to compare its image, message and product or service scope within the competitive landscape. Take a deep, long look into their new product initiatives, programs and value-added services. The key is not to benchmark, but to differentiate your brand.
What does your brand promise? Is this promise still important to customers? Does your brand matter to the high value customer that represents the brands bigger future? Does it reflect a highly-valued competitive advantage not in abundant supply elsewhere?
Do customers know what your brand stands for? The brand audit provides the reality check on just how well the essence or personality of the brand is resonating.
Brand architectures can get out of completely out of alignment over time. Take the time to reflect on how your brand is portrayed at the Master Brand level, and if it confuses or encourages clarity at the Product or Sub-Brand level. Also check that there is no confusion between the Corporate Brand or other attribute brands or branded features.
When brand managers think about consistency in marketing communications, they often think only about visual consistency. And while visual consistency is critical, it’s also the most obvious. Go one step deeper: what does your brand actually say? What are the primary and secondary messaging platforms that guide consistent marketing communications? If you reviewed several communication pieces carefully, would they portray a consistent message?
Does your brand receive the resources it needs to grow and prosper? Do you know what you should be spending your resources on? Are there more effective methods and tactics that will yield the desired results in your marketing activities?
It’s vital for an organization to deliver a consistent brand strategy across all points of consumer contact, it’s equally important to have a precise and detailed understanding of how that policy is progressing. Brand Owners (from time to time) must step back and review how their brand is holding up. It is invariably an energizing experience, and all those involved will find the process illuminating.
Email us for more about how The Blake Project’s brand audit can benefit your organization.
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education