The (other) brand checklist

Engel Schmidl /

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that the constant discussion of brand from a marketing-centric standpoint drives me around the twist.

So in a small attempt to provide some balance, and show how brand can be a central operating principle, here are some questions you may not be thinking about when you think about your brand – but should be.

1. Do you know what your core values are (I mean the authentic ones that show up in how your organisation acts, not the all star list you use for show)?

2. Have you found your promise – that reason your company exists (beyond making money – which if you are a for-profit enterprise, is a given!)?

3. Does everyone in the company from the CEO to the person in shipping know what they are and what they mean for their jobs?

4. Do you know what the meaning of the words you use – what defines them (for your organisation not the Oxford dictionary)? A short selection: quality, service, innovation…

5. Is your brand represented in the way you hire (beyond the words in your ad)?

6. Do your human resources policies and procedures incorporate and reinforce your brand in the way they are structured and implemented?

7. Does your employee training reinforce your brand in the way it is structured and implemented?

8. Do you outsource any part of your business operations? (If no skip to #11).

9. When and what do you outsource? How do you decide?

10. Do the people you outsource to know what your brand stands for and how it impacts what they do for you?

11. Is customer service positioned in the business as a cost or an information asset?

12. Do you include customer service in marketing discussions and decision-making?

13. Where is your customer service located?

14. Do you have a customer loyalty program?

15. Do you offer a guarantee? What is it and why?

16. What technologies do you choose to use? Do they support and reinforce the brand?

17. What methods and terms of payment do you offer? Why?

18. How do you handle billing disputes and returns?

19. Do you manufacture goods? (If no skip to # 21).

20. What drives your manufacturing choices? Does it align with your brand?

21. Do you want to grow your business or do you want to flip it?

22. How do you fund your business growth? Investors, bank, organically?

Some of these questions may not seem to be all that related to your brand. Over the coming weeks I will expand on them and show how everything on this list has the potential to strengthen your brand, undermine it or outright destroy it.

In the meantime, how does your company stand up against the list? Is your brand part of the discussion when you are considering these aspects of your business and organisation. Why not?

See you next week.

Michel is taking a break from her SmartCompany blog for a couple of weeks. This article first appeared on October 27, 2009 and was specially picked by Michel for republishing.

Michel is an independent adviser and advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.


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