Is Your Brand Due For a Health Check?

Keep Your Brand At Peak Performance

Brands, like people, need a health check ever so often. Keeping them at peak performance requires constant attention and care. A good brand management practice is to conduct a health check one year after a rebrand launch and then 2 – 3 years thereafter. It’s your brand’s health that is at stake.

You Can Count on Change

It used to be that you could be assured that a good set of standards would keep things in check for several years. In fact, a brand could often go 10 years or more before any significant adjustments were necessary. But those days are long gone. Today, things change quickly, sometimes overnight. A dynamic market, competitive norm breakers, and rising customer expectations create challenges to stay current and relevant. Change is happening at an ever-increasing rate. But that doesn’t mean you have to redesign your logo or rethink your brand strategy. So how do brands cope?

A Health Check Keeps The Brand Relevant

With the best of intentions and forethought, the best standards can’t anticipate everything. Brands have to adapt to ensure they remain relevant and competitive. But that doesn’t require a complete rebrand. It just means you have to keep a close eye on evolutionary changes to stay current, if not ahead of the curve. That’s what a good brand management strategy will ensure.

Checking on brand health frequently is essential. But it’s especially critical after the first year. It’s important to understand what’s working and what’s not. New issues and challenges may have emerged. Employee attitudes may have changed. Business strategies may have evolved. And industry trends may have shifted customer perceptions.

What Does a Brand Health Check Look Like?

A Brand Health Check aims to reveal opportunities that will enable the brand to work even harder. And to ensure it can adapt to changing needs while maintaining brand integrity. This requires a broad approach to look at as many touchpoints as reasonably possible. This will give you a good idea of where the brand stands.

1. Leadership Perspective

The leadership team is responsible for leading and guiding the brand. They know where they want to take it. So checking in to see if it is on the right path is simply good business practice. Once the leadership team has lived with the rebrand for over a year, it’s a good time to see how well it is meeting expectations. It is an opportunity to evaluate the overall brand performance. It’s also good to see if the brand is in alignment with any business strategy changes. And market dynamics may have changed the competitive environment. Conducting leadership interviews is one means of feedback. Soliciting comments through an online survey is an inexpensive and effective alternative. What you discover could affect marketing and brand messaging strategies as one possible outcome.

2. Brand Application Audit

It is experience and expression that shape brand perception. Consistency on both counts is what all great brands strive for. But it’s easy to stray off-course. Adapting to exceptions is the real challenge. What may be an exception once may lead to the norm later. Therefore a good brand management practice is to check in on how well the standards are meeting the reality of implementation needs. That’s when audits can pay dividends. An audit should look at all corporate communications and marketing materials produced over the course of the year. Online presence is, of course, equally important. The website and all social media channels require close examination. What this should reveal is the degree of brand consistency, brand recognition. and brand integrity. A key outcome might be an update of the brand standards or even the creation of some new standards.

3. Market Dynamics

The market you serve is in a constant state of change. Customers’ attitudes evolve. Old customers expect more. New customers are looking for differences that matter. New entrants may be posing unexpected competitive threats. The local economic climate may be presenting new opportunities. And even social and political change may have business implications. But, at the very least, knowing what your competitors are doing is essential. A simple, cost-effective way to gauge what’s going on is to field an online audit. This will reveal changes in messaging and positioning strategies that you should be aware of. One possible outcome may be to adjust your marketing messaging to ensure you are maintaining a market distinction.

4. Employee Perspectives

Employees are your strongest advocates. They are on the front lines with your customers. They should know your brand. And they should be able to live your brand. After the first year is a good time to check in. How well do they understand the brand? Have they embraced the brand? Are they invested in the culture? An online survey is an easy and cost-effective way to see how the employees are feeling about the brand. What you discover may change or impact your employee brand training.

5. Customer Views

What customers think is often more of a surprise than what you might expect. Their attitudes evolve as they shop and engage with all other kinds of brands. However, they are the ones helping to shape your brand perceptions. And they are the ones who best understand competitive distinction through the choices they make. The most revealing way to hear what customers think is through qualitative research. But that’s also the most expensive. An alternative is to utilize online surveys or quantitative research. Customer shifts in attitudes and expectations may influence how you tailor your offer and value proposition.

What Is the Impact of Change?

A Brand Health Check will, without question, uncover opportunities that you might not otherwise anticipate. This could lead to more cost-effective implementation. It could be a quality of an application issue. And most importantly it can help ensure brand integrity through greater consistency. Some examples of a Brand Health Check outcome may include the need to:

  • Adjust or create a new slogan to more accurately reflect a positioning shift or attribute
  • Develop a newly launched product or service sub-brand system
  • Update the value proposition to maintain competitive advantage
  • Refine brand attributes to reinforce the customer experience
  • Modify format standards to accommodate an expanded range of applications
  • Identify color adjustments to more effectively control application consistency and cost
  • Update the website and online experience to improve the user experience
  • Extend logo formats and graphic system to provide more application flexibility
  • Update standards to reflect changes and newly identified application needs
  • Modify training to respond to key branding and strategic changes

A Brand Health Check report will let you know what to do to stay current and relevant. It will include the kind of changes that should be made and the impact they will likely have.

Change is often Evolutionary

The changes identified in the Brand Health Check are often evolutionary in nature. Very seldom is radical or revolutionary change necessary. Updates can be done in phases. They can be budgeted in different fiscal years. Or they can be incorporated into a long-term implementation strategy. But change cannot be avoided. Keeping brands current is how a great brand works.

The goal of How Brand Works is to share our experience, perspectives and philosophy on the different facets of branding intended to enable an effective brand management strategy.