At McLellan Marketing Group, we live and breathe branding. We believe that branding is the cornerstone to a small business' success or lack thereof. You either brand yourself or you become a commodity. And a commodity has to compete on price.
If you want my views on why branding matters…check out these posts:
- Are you brave enough to walk away from business?
- Be bold or go home!
- Best practice: branding
- Mark Twain…the branding expert
But let's assume you agree with me — branding matters. If you think your company has a brand…how do you evaluate whether or not it's a good one?
Here are some criteria we use with clients when helping them either discover their brand or critique the one they have in place.
- It's evergreen (this is not something you'll need to change on a regular basis. It will always be true about you.)
- It's not a duh (if consumers already assume this about everyone in your category — it can't be your brand.)
- Memorable (If it doesn't stick, it won't work.)
- The flag to rally around for your employees (Will they be excited and proud to help you achieve this brand?)
- True – inside and out (You can't be one company to your customers and another to your employees)
- A why or a how – not the what (how you create widgets differently or why you do it builds a brand..not that you make widgets. Everyone in your category makes widgets.)
- Makes you a little nervous (A brand needs to be a bold promise to get noticed and to matter.)
- Emotion based (We buy everything based on emotions. If your brand doesn't trigger an emotion, it will also not trigger a sale.)
- Differentiate you (Isn't that what a brand is all about. It sets you apart from everyone else.)
- Should dovetail with your mission/vision (Your internal goals and your public brand should be aligned or else one of them is off base.)
- From the consumer's point of view (it's about them after all!)
- I can tell — it matters to me (the consumer has to be able to recognize and evaluate your brand promise. If you make the promise but I can't figure out if you kept it or not, we have trouble.)
- Big enough to trigger a buying decision (your point of difference has to be significant enough that I'd open my wallet)
If you can say "yes, that's my brand" to most of these criteria — you have a brand that will endure and that your employees, customers and community will embrace and support. But if you can't get a 10 out of 12 on this little test (it requires quite a bit of candor) then you know it's back to the drawing board.
Want a PDF of our brand criteria to keep handy? Click on the words brand criteria to download.
Drew, excellent article on the key factors in branding. I’ve been writing about this subject quite a bit on my own blog and in my opinion, you have covered every important element in this critical area. Amazingly, some companies spend more time picking out their office furniture than in developing and refining their brand strategy.
I still remember your presentation to the Bartlesville Marketing & Commmunications Assoc about this very thing. There are many here who still refer to “Your Brand is Not Your Logo.”
These points you bring up can help a business stack the deck in their favor in how a customer perceives their business.
For most, a single brand is all you can manage. Especially in the product world, resist multiple brands at all cost. Multiple products and models of products are fine. A good example is BMW. One Brand, lots of 3,5, 7 and other series of cars. When the corporation bought the Mini brand, they did not tie it to BMW or put it in the dealerships. They went to the expense of building out a complete separate brand which was a very different brand.
Thanks very much. I think most companies don’t really work on their brand because A) they don’t understand what it really is/can do and B) because it’s a lot of hard work to be true to it.
And maybe a dash of fear.
I agree with you completely on the office furniture comment. Why do you think branding doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
I still remember that presentation as well! It was an adventure to do it by video!
So few businesses truly understand that their brand is not their logo. If your folks are still quoting that line…I did my job that day!
SO are you saying that you would discourage others from adopting the P&G model?
Managing a brand is serious business and takes time and commitment. So you’re right, juggling multiple brands is not only a difficult challenge but confusing for the consumer in most cases.
Thanks for the accurate data, you have covered some essential points there to consider! Branding is essential. Define your brand considering your competitors and your niche market is the first step. Creating and building your brand by correctly promoting it and spreading the word is the next step. Building goodwill around it is the 3rd on my list.
I have also posted some answers on Startups.com
Readers should join the interesting conversations there as well!
I feel like I am late to the party. Because I am just discovering you and this article. I am in the process of writing my very 1st book working title Master Networking – The Art of Networking and Building Relationship and my 1st top ten steps is Evaluating Your Brand. So you already know I like to thank you for the confirmation I am on the right track..www.rmg-eco.com