28Sep 2018

Does Your Brand Pass the 4-Way Test?

Andy Kovan
By Andy Kovan

In today’s profit-driven, short-term-focused business world, the roles of brand establishment and brand development are often relegated to the marketing division and viewed as expenses vs. assets. C-suites and shareholders often have a hard time understanding the potential for value in brand as an asset to the organization, which demands a reasonable level of commitment and investment over time. In many organizations, brand is losing the battle for high levels of participation and engagement from all tiers of the organization because measuring return on investment is often difficult.

Another common hesitation over making a commitment to the brand is the confidence that a strong brand foundation is in place and that everyone in the organization understands the brand foundation. There are many ways to test this through modern-day research tools. However, sometimes a simple test will answer the question and avoid the need for expensive and time-consuming research projects.

 Answer these simple questions by yourself, with a small group of colleagues or with the CEO:

  1. Is our brand Credible?
  2. Is our brand Unique?
  3. Is our brand Relevant?
  4. Is our brand Durable?

Let’s dig deeper into the criteria for each of these questions.

Is our brand Credible?

Today’s consumers are busy and faced with many tough decisions each day. One of the roles that a strategic brand foundation fulfills is delivering tangible and intangible benefits for the consumer to believe in and share with his or her friends and communities. Consumers are more educated and cynical then ever, so a credible brand experience will place you in a more favorable position than the inauthentic competitive brands. Credible can mean: Are you who you say you are? Do you share the same beliefs as your core consumer? Do you know your consumers, and have you given them a chance to know you? 

Is our brand Unique?

Differentiation is a very popular buzzword among the advertising and marketing communities. The process of strategic brand development forces the leadership of any organization to evaluate their uniqueness in an honest and transparent manner. At times, differentiation becomes difficult based on the category of business you are in. Consider banks — the argument could be made that a bank is a bank. They all serve the same function. However, a point of differentiation may be how they serve relative to their competition. How are we unique? What do we do differently (not necessarily better) than the competitive set we measure ourselves against? What does your consumer think?

Is our brand Relevant?

I hear what you are saying, but I do not care. According to an August 2017 Forbes article, we know that consumers are bombarded with more than 4,000 ads/messages per day, and some people get up to 10,000. Brands that have refined their messaging in a way that clearly explains how their product or service will solve consumers’ problems will win at checkout — every time. Better yet, those who do so with a personality that reflects the values of the organization will share even greater success through stronger relationships with their consumers.

Is our brand Durable?

One of the most important elements to your brand is durability. When you develop a brand that will last over time, your consumer base — and the relationship they share with your product or service — will strengthen because of familiarity and favorability. The temptation is to shift, to become someone or something different based on the current zeitgeist, but staying true (with some minor evolution) will ring true to the consumer.

After a careful and pragmatic approach to reviewing these questions, any hesitation here could signal the need for a strategic brand-planning effort so that your brand can become your most valuable asset — regardless of the size of your organization.

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