Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Brand Strength Assessment Tools You Can Use Now

Senior management at most successful businesses have realized that their brand, and the characteristics it represents, is one of the most valuable assets they own. If used properly, a powerful brand can propel a business’ profitability for years to come, guide product development, enhance revenue in a variety of ways, and drive their business’ growth. But how do you know if your brand is strong, if it is being diluted or damaged, or is entirely corrupt and even damaging?

Through our work with a host of national companies and a wide variety of brands, we have developed some tools we use to assess the strength of a brand, highlight potential weak spots, and reveal opportunities based on the results of some test questions. These were developed and vetted through one-to-one, lengthy interview research conducted over years, with customers of service, product, consumer and b-to-b purveyors. Each was refined and adjusted to meet the specific type of business, and then the data aligned along four quadrants using a multi-variant matrix to correct for industry and business model differences.

If answered honestly, these questions are structured to inform brand managers, marketing VPs, and senior management where things can be strengthened and where they can be capitalized upon for great effect. You can apply this same test (except for some proprietary differences) to your brand and do your own quick assessment. The more times you perform the test within your group of stakeholders, the more accurate it becomes, as more data points will tend to bring out strong linkages and commonalities within your organization. It can be segmented by department, to give you a read on how your brand info filters through various lenses internally based on job function. Or you can split it by job responsibility or title strata to determine whether your brand ideals have filtered down from the top or originate at the bottom.

Now the real question is, if you score below 40, what can you do to increase your score and strengthen your brand. At least some answers can be found in an analysis of the data from these questions as well. A follow-up article to this one coming next time will provide some insights as to how to use the data to get the job done quickly and cost-effectively. For now, on to the test:

Answer all 25 of the following questions in the following way.
• Assign a 1 if the answer is “Never”
• Assign a 2 if the answer is “Sometimes”
• Assign a 3 if the answer is “Almost Always”
• Assign a 4 if the answer is “Absolutely Always”

Total the responses and score your brand’s power, integration and saturation based on these ranges:

• 25 - 40 - Brand is not well integrated and is vulnerable to pirating or may be damaged easily
• 41 - 55 – Brand needs support both internally and externally, not doing you as much good as it could be
• 56 - 75 – Brand is solid, but could use some polishing. Review with staff, add weight to priority scale
• 76 - 100 – Brand is strong. Lower end of scale (below 85) needs additional buffing; above 90, you could see through this company the brand is so well represented and transparent.

1. We actively investigate what is important to our customers, using research,
face-to-face interviews, questionnaires, suggestion boxes, etc.

2. We understand how our customers feel about our products and services.

3. We judge the effectiveness of our brand in terms of how it looks and feels to our customers – not how it seems to us.

4. We understand the attitudes of our customers and their changing views and needs.

5. We don’t have to discount prices in order to attract and keep our customers.

6. Our customers can state quite clearly and simply what is important about our brand to them, and why they think it is different.

7. Our communication plan includes all the various places and ways in which we interact with our customers.

8. We have aligned our organizational structure, operations and culture with our brand values.

9. We understand what differentiates our brand from our competitors.

10. Everyone in our organization knows what our brand stands for and can articulate that idea simply and clearly.

11. Everyone in our organization knows what they have to do to deliver on our brand promise.

12. Our communications, marketing, service delivery, finance and HR functions are all aligned with our brand objectives.

13. Branding is championed throughout our organization, from the CEO down.

14. Strengthening and protecting the company’s brand is a fundamental driver behind our organization’s long-term goals.

15. We have a brand management program in place that is continually looking for new and more effective ways to protect and enhance our brand throughout the organization.

16. Accounts quantifying the value of our brand to our business are included in our financial systems.

17. Details of our brand and the strategy that drives it are well documented and that information is available to those who need and desire it.

18. All key stakeholders are involved in our brand creation process.

19. Our company has systems in place for carefully monitoring the appropriateness, timeliness, integration and consistency of our branded communications.

20. We view brand as applying to far more than just our visual identity and our marketing communications.

21. Our brand includes not just our core organization but also our partners and key third party suppliers.

22. We regard our brand agency(ies) as our strategic partner(s) and actively involve them in organizational and communications planning and review sessions.

23. Our marketing and communications team have an integrated understanding of our brand and are in constant communication over brand-related activities and issues.

24. The consistency of our brand is paramount. It reaches way beyond just tactical brand campaigns and it is deeper than even key personnel changes.

25. If our brand did not exist, the vast majority of our customers would notice our absence and really miss having us in their lives.

About the Author: David Poulos, Chief Consultant at Granite Partners, has been providing marketing guidance and expertise to clients firms large and small for over 25 years. Specialties include non-profit membership marketing, tradeshow marketing, direct mail, and full-scale strategic marketing campaigns. He can be reached via the web at, or by phone at 410-472-4570. Granite Partners is based in Sparks, Maryland and services clients nationwide.

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