As I write this article, a New Year has just begun . . . bringing a much-welcomed fresh start.
We all hope (and optimistically expect) that 2021 will be a much better, more normal year for all of us – including small businesses that suffered such hardships during 2020. For them (our primary audience), I offer my best wishes for a strong start as well as a suggestion for an additional New Year’s resolution: performance of a simple “annual brand checkup” to identify and make any needed adjustments.
Please note that I have chosen the word “checkup” very carefully to suggest a simple self-help exercise – not a complete “brand audit” that can be highly structured, very time consuming, and quite expensive when third parties are utilized. As a quick DIY alternative that can, therefore, be accomplished much more frequently, the 5 Steps of a Brand Wellness Checkup include the following:
- Examine all of your advertising, web site, and collateral sales and instructional material to make sure the documents conform to your Style Guide. If they do not, you need to determine whether the materials or the guide need updating.
- Determine whether the qualities used to define yourself and, therefore, your brand are still the right ones and are practiced daily by your staff and operations. To do this, talk to your employees and check in with a few of your regular customers. (Since we are talking about a checkup – not an audit – a number of informal conversations might be all that is needed . . . as opposed to surveys, telemarketing efforts, research focus groups etc.)
- Look at your logo and branding statements with a fresh eye to determine whether they still reflect who you are and want to be. If not, incorporate a gradual revision into your plans – allowing sufficient time and resources to do the job well.
- Revisit your customer service protocols to make sure they are delivering the level of excellence you seek, making any needed adjustments to your practices.
- Reinforce your branding message with your staff to make sure your identity is getting communicated to customers in the intended way.
Remember, the point of this exercise is to make sure that at least once a year you stop and revisit your most basic branding decisions and their implementation. By doing so annually, you can make sure you do not unwittingly drift off course . . . and can make minor adjustments to right yourself before a major, potentially difficult, and expensive overhaul is required. (To learn more about activities associated with the items mentioned above, visit our menu item labeled “Your Brand: The Beginning” or visit this page.)
While most New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by February, this goal is one that can and should be done as early as possible at the start of the year.
Good luck . . . and keep thinking positive thoughts about 2021 and beyond.