Evaluating the health of your brand can be a tricky thing. To start, you have to define the role brand plays for your business.
Your brand is a relationship between your business and your customers. The two halves of that relationship are:
- The value your business provides and how it communicates that value.
- Your customers’ ability to understand that value and trust it fulfills their needs.
A healthy brand has alignment between those two sides. It means your offerings, the way your business operates, and the way you communicate your value all resonate with your customers.
When that alignment is strong, your customers develop a positive mental shortcut about your business. They can summarize the value you provide and lock it into a distinct place in their mind.
But when that alignment is off, it’s almost impossible to earn your customers’ attention, trust, and dollars. They’re unlikely to notice or remember your business at all. If they do, it’s for inaccurate or even negative reasons.
Here are four signals that your brand may have some ailments. As well as ways to address them and improve your brand’s health.
Growth Is A Grind
One of the first places to check on your brand’s health is growth. Growth can be measured in lots of ways depending on the goals of the business. But assuming you’re not content with the status quo, the question is whether the metrics you care about most are moving in the right direction.
If your brand’s positioning is vague and undifferentiated, any effort to grow is an uphill battle.
Poor growth symptoms:
- Sales cycles are long and complicated
- It’s difficult to succinctly explain the unique value your business provides
- Customers inquire about what you provide but never follow up
- Customers choose your competitors based on price alone
How a healthy brand propels growth:
Your brand positioning lives at the intersection of what your customers need and the unique way your offering satisfies those needs compared to the competition.
When your brand positioning is clear it’s easy to see the alignment between what you provide and the customers who benefit from it.
This simplifies sales because it’s crystal clear how your business satisfies an important need. Customers get to an “a-ha” moment faster. And it keeps customers focused on the value they receive rather than strictly the price.
All of these things allow your business to engage and convert more customers and grow more quickly.
Marketing Is Mushy
When your brand isn’t healthy, it’s impossible to market to your audience in a clear, meaningful way.
Psychologist and author, Adam Grant puts it this way:
“To figure out whether you really understand an idea, write it down. Unclear writing is a sign of unclear thinking.”
When a business doesn’t take the time to document who they are, what they do, and how they’re unique, it results in vague, undifferentiated marketing. It’s like trying to guess at a solution to a complex math equation without understanding the variables.
Whether a marketing effort works or not, there’s no record of the thinking that went into it. This makes it impossible to build on and refine those efforts.
Poor marketing symptoms:
- Inbound traffic to your site is low and when people show up they bounce out quickly
- Signups and conversions are low
- Ad costs are high
- Content doesn’t generate engagement or get shared
How a healthy brand crystallizes marketing:
When leaders take the time to define their brand in a structured way, it provides the chance to share and refine ideas to inform marketing.
It helps them find key assumptions they’ve made around areas like their customers and competition.
It means they’re deliberate about choosing the words, tone, and visuals that will best speak to their customers’ needs.
These are all critical inputs to create effective marketing. It’s how you find the words your customers are searching for when solving their problems. And it’s how you turn those words into emotionally compelling messages and content.
Loyalty Is Lacking
Another place to spot brand health issues is with customer loyalty.
When you’re not aligned with customers it’s easy for them to jump ship for other solutions.
A deep brand connection engages customers on functional, emotional, and even aspirational levels. The more a customer gets invested on emotional and aspirational levels, the more loyal they become to a brand.
That’s not to say functional elements, such as saving time, money, or simplifying tasks aren’t important. The issue is that those elements are less connected to customers on a personal level.
If a brand hasn’t moved beyond the functional, there’s little friction to keep customers around.
Poor loyalty symptoms:
- Customer churn is high
- Referrals and recommendations are rare
- Repeat purchase and lifetime value are low
- Metrics around engagement and loyalty, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), are low
How a healthy brand builds loyalty:
A well-defined brand centers around a deep understanding of its customers. There’s a clear understanding of the motivations and outcomes that your customers seek. In turn, you can craft your products and services to address those needs.
When a business understands its customers well, it opens up more options to connect on emotional and aspirational levels.
This moves your business beyond solving basic needs and creating sustained relationships with your customers. That’s the key to building a business that lasts for the long run.
Teams Are Torn
This last check for brand health is primarily an internal benefit. A brand’s vision, values, and goals are all critical to keep a team focused and on track.
When leadership doesn’t share that information, it’s impossible for a team to stay aligned and move in the same direction.
Poor vision symptoms:
- Decisions get bottlenecked with leaders
- Team members aren’t empowered to act on ideas
- Individual efforts don’t align with company goals
- Content and offerings are scattered
How a healthy brand rallies around a vision:
High level strategy may sound less urgent compared to bottom-line needs like growth, marketing, and retention. But the truth is that without those guidelines in place, team efforts get diffused.
Whether you’re a startup or have been in business for decades, inefficiency due to misalignment is a massive suck on resources.
When founders get the company’s vision, values, and goals out of their heads and down on paper, it lets them maximize their resources. It creates an environment where teams can act effectively and autonomously. They understand big goals and smaller objectives and work together to hit them.
A shared vision can also be a source of inspiration. It elevates a collection of individuals into a team with a shared purpose and direction.
Get Your Brand In Peak Condition
If you haven’t taken the time to document and define your brand strategy your business may have health issues holding it back. These issues limit you internally with your team, and externally with your customer connections.
Once you’re in tune to the symptoms though, it becomes clear how to address them.