The strength and effectiveness of a brand is one of the most important factors in assessing a company's health and overall value, even though it is also one of the more subjective metrics when evaluating KPIs.
Because the brand is the public face and representation of the company, a company should plan to conduct a brand analysis at least every two years to make sure it is being presented and interpreted in the most positive way possible.
Let's look at some guidelines for how to conduct a brand analysis that will provide the intelligence to determine if your brand needs to be reworked and revived, or if it is performing as intended.
- A brand audit is the most important first step in conducting a brand analysis, looking at the objective data and subjective interpretation of the brand
- Accurate customer personas are a must for an effective brand analysis so you know precisely who you want to reach and what the brand communicates to them
- Visual identity, brand voice and messaging and motivational factors are some of the most important components of an effective brand
Consider The Power Of A Strong Brand
Great brands have a power all their own that can capture the imagination of the public and resonate through generations. Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola are three consumer brands that project an almost universal message to anyone who sees them.
Some brands become so authoritative and dominant that they become the name of entire product categories. Some examples of this phenomena are Kleenex, Dumpster, BAND-AID and Frisbee; individual companies who have come to define their market so well that competitors are effectively miles behind because they are seen as “also-rans” compared to these market leaders.
A brand can have a hard financial value too. For proof, look at the asset mortgage Ford Motor Co. conducted in 2006 when it borrowed more than $20 billion to restructure the company and used its portfolio of trademarks, logos and branding as a significant portion of the collateral it put up to earn the faith and funding of borrowers.
Even a brand that seems bland and boring like IBM can be considered effective because it projects a feeling of dependability and predictability to the business customers who have relied on its office and corporate products for years, if not decades.
Brand Analysis Needs Internal Data, And External Experts
A brand analysis begins with finding out where the company and its brand currently sit in the minds of its target audience, and then identifying the steps that must be taken to make the brand more stronger and relevant.
The objective metrics involved in a brand audit and analysis can be handled internally, with marketing leaders examining factors such as audience reach, website traffic, and the success of various marketing campaigns. Even customer feedback is important information to use in a brand analysis, but it is crucial to remember that customers on extreme ends of the spectrum - the most happy, and the most unsatisfied - are the most likely to offer feedback.
A brand consulting expert will still be needed, however, to help properly analyze subjective factors about the brand. This is necessary because there will always be an inherent set of biases and assumptions made by company partners who have been deeply involved with the brand for many years. These external experts can conduct surveys and focus groups to collect valuable customer data, and other market research to see how the brand stands up compared to other players in the marketplace. Because the brand reaches so many different people, it is vital to get as many different points of perspective as possible so you can find out if the brand is being used in a consistent way and that it is conveying the desired message to various audiences.
The Need To Look In The Mirror
Company leaders also need to weigh in on their own perceptions on the brand, and what they see compared to the data that is being gathered to identify any significant gaps that need to be addressed. Among the questions they need to answer:
- What is your brand?
- How are you significant and differentiated from other companies in the market?
- What does your brand promise to customers?
- What do people know about you based on your brand?
- What expectations does your brand create for customers?
- What do you want your brand to do?
- How does your brand help your business?
- What else would you like your brand to do?
Putting It All In Place
Harvard Business Review writes that corporate brands that represent an entire company are harder to define than those of individual products. This can be something less of a concern for companies in the B2B space, though companies in the startup and scaleup phase are largely still introducing themselves to the market. That means great care needs to be put into the marks, colors, logos and other visual assets that in many cases will be the company’s first introduction to potential customers.
With a comprehensive brand analysis complete, you will know where your company sits in the minds of your public, and what steps need to be taken to make a lasting, trusted impression to everyone you reach with your messaging and visual identity.
Need guidance to sharpen and strengthen your brand? Consider starting with a Brand Message Playbook.