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.