Branding is not a once-and-done activity. Rather, branding is a process that is constantly enhanced, refined, monitored, and adjusted. Previously, we provided an article entitled: Perform an Annual 5-Step Brand Wellness Checkup. We suggested making this activity a New Year’s Resolution . . . and we still believe such ongoing monitoring is useful. That said, we are now suggesting a second fairly simple activity that can help keep you on-track.
Specifically, we have found periodic side-by-side comparisons to your nearest/greatest competitor to be very useful in identifying your strengths for future branding efforts and self-promotion while simultaneously enabling you to spot weaknesses for necessary remedial attention.
For instance, we suggest that you, several members of your staff, and perhaps even a few key influencers from your local audience complete a simple 14-point checklist.
Obviously, honesty and objectivity are essential in conducting a meaningful exercise. Once done, count up the number of “x’s” in the Your column compared to those in the Competitor column to see how well you fared. Frankly, a properly conducted exercise should go a long way in telling you the reason you landed in the #1 vs. the #2 position.
Then, use the categories in which you excelled to build your list of strengths and plan to feature those qualities in future promotional efforts. Similarly, use the categories in which your competition defeated you to identify items requiring attention and develop strategies aimed at improvement.
We think you will find this Branding Self-Check exercise helpful in keeping your efforts on target.
However, we do want to add a cautionary note. After completing such an exercise, you might be tempted to build advertising and promotional material that does a direct comparison between you and your named competition. We strongly advise AGAINST giving into the temptation. (As Christopher Columbus was once warned before sailing to the edge of the map – Here be dragons!!) The potential risks of this ad strategy far outweigh the potential rewards. In addition to encountering the possibility of being sued, numerous laws exist that govern the handling of such comparisons. Furthermore, these ads can easily create an unfavorable impression of the party offering the advice unless handled properly. Doing such a task well (i.e., getting your point across without appearing to complain or protesteth too much) is extremely tricky and requires expert market research as part of the process. That said, perhaps we will dedicate a future article to this very subject. Until then, we hope you find this current suggested activity to be useful. If so, use the comment section below to let us know.
Free Template: Want to access a copy of our checklist template to customize to your needs? Click this link.
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