If you ask the average marketer, they’ll probably tell you their brand is doing just fine. They’ll point with pride to a robust set of brand guidelines, an established logo, a long-standing brand strategy and messaging that senior management has bought into.
They don’t believe they need to do any work on it when they have so many other more pressing communications requirements – and increasingly limited budgets. And, that's fair enough! No one wants to be told that their brand isn’t up to snuff by outside consultants. But are they looking at it from an outsider’s perspective?
Brand work can be painstaking, time-consuming and expensive. Convincing clients to invest in it can be a hard sell, particularly because it’s so theoretical. Intimidating, even; a lot of people find it hard to understand what terms like ‘vision’, ‘mission’, ‘purpose’ and ‘proposition’ mean, let alone why they are important.
But a lot of clients come to us for activation work – like websites, campaigns, reports or sustainability strategies – only to realise that to properly address activation problems, we first need to fix a brand problem that sits behind it. It’s not until you show them proof of how a brand is flawed in execution – from multiple audience perspectives – that clients realise the practical importance of a refreshed and joined-up brand foundation.
Disconnects between how a brand is defined on the ‘About’ page of the website and the Google meta content description, inaccessible brand fonts and colours and problems with how employees surface brand assets (if you catch your colleagues Googling brand logos before mining through your organisation’s brand hub, you are not alone). These are all indicators that there is a brand alignment problem that needs to be addressed before strong activation can be developed.
At RY, we’re an integrated, end-to-end communications agency. We handle all aspects of marketing and communication for every audience. That means not just building brands, but activating them at every touchpoint, so we’re always thinking about outside audiences and channels in order to create brands people really believe in.
In fact, we recently went through a brand strategy project for a client who directed us to their main Twitter account for proof of their messaging in practice – only to be shocked by our discovery of 20+ branded Twitter accounts, all with conflicting messaging and assets. Strong brand messaging is critical, but it’s ineffective if it’s not executed consistently.
Inspired by this, we developed a fun and easy-to-use diagnostic tool to help show clients evidence of their brand performance in activation in order to help them see for themselves where they need work. Our ‘Believe it or Not’ quiz encourages people to answer a few simple questions about their brand, linking to a series of handy online tools, like a colour accessibility checker, which compiles a score to help brand guardians gauge what level of brand work they need to invest in.
Regardless of how strong or weak your brand is, it doesn’t necessarily need a huge amount of effort to strengthen it. There are lots of options for getting it in shape, from agile workshops to more extensive research and stakeholder engagement programmes.
In order to deliver a flexible brand that people believe in, you’ll need a tailored, iterative process that considers every audience. But the brand diagnostic tool is a great place to start.
The best part? It’s totally free and you can do it from the privacy and security of your own computer, protected from the critical opinions of outside consultants…
Jennifer Pyne is the Brand Engagement Director at RY.