3 Steps to a Better Brand

Looking for a quick and easy way to improve your brand? If your business has been around for a while, it’s quite possible your brand strategy has lost some luster. That happens when people get busy of lose focus on the details of brand messaging.

To tighten things up, try this simple 3-step process to building a better brand:

1) It’s Time for a Brand Audit

Don’t worry, this audit is a good one. Go on a scavenger hunt to gather everything you can find that represents your business. Collect brochures, sales presentation and articles about your company. Print out web pages, blog posts, and your Twitter Tweet history. Clip advertisements. Grab some business cards and letterhead. Find coupons, invoices, hang tags, promo items.

Once you have a little of everything, spread it all out. Use a big table, a wall, or the floor to display everything where you can see it. Step back and see what these things say about your business, both visually and in the text. Is there a consistent theme, or is it all over the place? Take an objective view, and see if it all makes sense. Make notes on what you see, and what you don’t.

  • Does your brand message come through clearly, or is it confusing?
  • Is your visual image consistent, or do you have different logos, colors and looks?
  • What’s missing? Are there key messages you want to get across, but missed?

2) Start Talking – and Listening

This step will help you get a fresh perspective on your brand. Get out of the office, or get on the phone. Talk to customers and prospects. If you have distributors or retailers for your products, talk to them, too. How do they see your business? Does this match up with how you want them to see your company? What do they like? How would they describe your company?

Ask these constituents, or stakeholders, what they need or want from a company like yours. What do they wish you offered that’s not in your mix? Find out what they’re not getting from your competitors, or how those competitors fall short of expectations.

If you’re concerned about getting objective feedback, hire someone to interview your customers and prospects, taking detailed notes on what they learn. You might even want to do a little secret shopping to see for yourself what’s working and what isn’t.

Ask yourself a few questions…

  • Does the experience you uncovered in this step match with the messages you found in your brand audit?
  • What areas are the most divergent from your message, or your customers expectations?
  • Where does your message most closely match up with the customer experience or desires?

3) Get Organized

In this final step, take all the information you’ve gathered, and use it to update your brand. Focus on the most effective messages and visuals, and get rid of things that aren’t working.

Don’t be too sentimental in this phase. You will need to make some tough decisions about what to lose and what to keep: Do you need to update or change something about the way you do business? Is it time to cut a product that doesn’t fit your mix? Should you dump an ad that doesn’t send the right message?

Once you’ve done the pruning, add new items that reinforce your brand message. Anything you add to the mix must improve the consistency of your communications.

  • Create a message matrix that outlines the key messages for your brand, along with supporting points. Use this as a guide when developing new marketing materials.
  • Visually, select a consistent color palette and graphic style. Use a tone in your copy that supports the brand personality you want to express.
  • Develop brand standards to govern how your logo is used. Specify what colors, fonts and types of images should be used in your sales and marketing collateral.

Once you have all of these items in place, train your staff on how to use them, and do periodic checks to be sure. As you tackle new projects, think about how they reinforce or detract from your brand. Stay true to your plans, and you’ll be well on your way to a better brand.

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