How do you evaluate your brand?

Screen shot 2010-02-16 at 12.06.33 AM 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:

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.

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