Often we find clients think once the initial branding of their organization or product is done — you know, designed a logo, come up with a crafty tag line, and gone live with a website — their branding job is over. Check, moving on. Not quite so fast! A brand audit could be a better next step.
When we create a brand, we give birth to an entity that represents our organization/company/product/service even more visibly than a CEO or company President. And, in some cases, with more impact than the product or service itself. We spend time ensuring our product or service delivers what’s promised. We make sure our president or CEO represents our company well. So why is it a challenge to manage our brand??
Your brand has an impact with or without management.
If you’re not managing your brand, then it’s managing itself. And if you haven’t done a brand audit, you won’t know the real impact your brand is having. Once you develop a brand and put it out there in the world, it is having an impact whether you’re actively managing it or not. But your company is associated with the brand, so you are responsible in the eyes of the consumer. The positive and the negative. The effective and ineffective. The acceptable and the questionable … it’s all linked back to you.
Every web page that is live on the internet. Every social media account. Every printed letterhead, document, flyer, etc. that leaves the doors of your organization. Every word that is mentioned about you in press or blogs. Every word that is spoken by an employee to a customer, client or the public. Every place your logo or company name appears. These are all elements of your brand that need to be managed.
Brand champions, guidelines and training
Managing the impact of your brand is an ongoing process. While some larger companies are fortunate enough to have a Brand Champion or a Brand Manager who spends their day monitoring the brand, that’s not so for most companies.
Many companies establish brand guidelines and standards and empower staff to manage the brand, training them on the importance of branding. Another option is to train a staff member in each department to act as a Brand Champion among the team. Either way, this all starts with a brand audit: Understand where your brand is today, what impacts your brand presence, and how to best manage it.
Starting points for a team discussion
Start the discussion with your marketing team, or even across your organization, to identify your strengths and your weaknesses in brand management. Here are some discussion questions to get you started:
- What are all the elements that represent our brand?
- Where do our audiences come in contact with our brand?
- Which elements are we managing really well?
- Which elements are we not currently managing?
- Are all the old versions of the brand out of circulation?
- Who is responsible for managing the various aspects of our brand?
- What are the opportunities for us to either centralize or divide our brand management?
- Where are there opportunities in our brand management to do things better — today, next week, next month, next year?
- Where are potential threats to our brand based on lack of management?