The Good Brand Checklist
Good brands take time. They need a strong foundation, a single focus and a consistent message repeated again and again and again. Here's a simple checklist of what you need to ensure your brand grows strong, stays focused and is consistently communicated.
As time goes by, it's easy to lose sight of the fundamentals.
So it's also worth revisiting this checklist from time to time.
Even if you are a well established brand.
(1) Our brand is focused on a single differentiated idea.
This is really important. While your brand may deliver many actual products or services, your brand will not succeed if it stands for many things. You are battling for limited real estate in the mind of a prospect. You need to stand for something that customers care about and that they can recall. Try and be all things to all people and your message will be muddled and indistinct. The best brands are focused on a single proposition.
(2) We have a written brand mission that clearly states our purpose.
It answers the question of why I exist for customers. What do you want to accomplish for your customers? How are your customers better off by doing business with you? It must be authentic and it should come from the inside. Don't use generic words or obvious things like; saving money, good quality or excellent service. Those things are baseline requirements and they don't resonate with customers. Your brand mission is not necessarily for public consumption, it's primarily for internal use, but share it publicly if you wish.
(3) We have a written brand promise.
This is where you convert your brand mission into a brand promise that you can communicate and that your customers will value. What does your brand promise to customers above and beyond the products/services you provide? Why do/will customers do business with you? Remember brands are never about the product or service but always about the promise. Don't use generic words or obvious things like; saving money, good quality or excellent service. Those things are baseline requirements and they don't resonate with customers.
(4) We have a clearly defined brand personality.
Think of this as the humanized attributes of your brand. What's your brands' personality? Cool, Hip, Stylish, Professional, Loud, Quite, Scary, Empathetic, Funny, Charitable, Creative, Young, Mature, etc. How do people describe your brand? Your brand promise delivered with personality is what makes your brand truly unique. This should include the expected behaviour of the people that deliver your brand at all touch points.
Here's a list of positive and negative personality adjectives to get you started.
(5) We have a good logo that represents our brand and use it consistently.
Remember a logo is not the brand, it's just an icon that represents it. Once established a customer sees the logo but the brain registers the brand behind it. Nevertheless, a good logo is important. It should be technically correct, as simple and iconic as possible, it should be easily reproducible on a range of different media but in particular on your product or wherever you deliver your service. The most important element of the logo is the logo text or "word". It must be legible and pronounceable. The overall logo lockup is typically a mix of letters, shapes and colours should be unique and distinct. Once you have a good logo, it's most important that you use it everywhere, consistently and that you resist the call to tweak and change it.
(6) We have a good sticky tagline that is memorable and meaningful.
A tagline is not absolutely mandatory. However, most great brands have one and it's often the sole bearer of the brands message. A good tagline communicates your brands' purpose in a simple and concise sentence (ideally in 7 words or less). It should be a little bit quirky and unusual (sticky) enough for customers to take notice. Examples include Nike - Just do it. Nissan - Enjoy the ride. Singapore Airlines - Singapore girl, you’re a great way to fly.
Need help with a tagline - check out TaglineGuru
(7) We have written brand standards.
Brand Standards (aka Brand Guidelines, Brand Specification, Brand Book, etc) set out in detail and in writing what my brands' foundation elements are and how my brand should be communicated and used. Whenever your staff, partners, resellers and any users of your brand identity are asked to reproduce or communicate your brand, a written Brand Standard must be available for reference. Your staff ( and ideally all parties) should also undergo brand standards training before being asked to deliver the brand.
(8) We have a formal brand management system in place.
Once you've created your brand assets (brand standards, logo artwork, marketing collateral) you need a formal system (or process) for controlled delivery and licensing of brand users. A brand management system is an application typically residing on a server or in the cloud on the internet.
It should include; secure storage for your brand asset files, a way to deliver files to trusted users (via self-service download or FTP or email), automatic delivery of your brand standards, a way to manage and license users, a way to notify brand users of changes and a way to report on use. It should also be independent of creative suppliers.
Learn about Brandkit - brand management system software.
(9) One more thing - The Golden Rule of good branding
The most important rule of all.
"All the branding in the world, won’t fix a bad product or service."
So before you spend time, effort and money on branding and marketing, please ensure your product or service is of an acceptable* quality to your customers and that you continue to deliver what you promise and what your customers expect.
How did you do?
If you can check all these items off, pat yourself on the back. You're well on your way to creating and maintaining a strong brand.
If not, then your brand needs more work. You should consider getting your team together, preferably away from your place of work to discuss and arrive at some conclusions. You need to be crystal clear and concise. Use simple, easy to understand language with no ambiguity.
Focus on the first 3 items in the checklist. Once they're firmly established everything else should flow more easily.