leadership

The 20-point health check on building your brand

Michel Hogan /

I write about the topic of brand and marketing about once a year. I plan to keep doing this until the time I mention that I work with organisations to help them keep their promises and build their brands I stop getting “Oh, so you’re in marketing” as the rejoinder.

I will probably be waiting until hell freezes over, but I’m generally a tenacious kind of person, so you never know – it could happen.

Why does this particular bee stick in my bonnet? After all there are millions of books, blogs and marketing professionals who would beg to differ on my assertion that marketing is a function of brand not the other way around.

The short answer is because I’ve seen first-hand the wasted effort and resources, disengagement and broken promises that come from brand being approached as marketing. I also want to acknowledge that true marketing is almost wholly misunderstood and largely hijacked as “communications” – but that is a different blog.

So this is for all those leaders out there looking to grow their organisations, to get bigger or just get better.

Building a brand is work for the whole organisation, not one area. To be clear, I am not saying that marketing doesn’t have a role to play – it does, but it is only a part of what truly builds a brand (and a smaller part than you might imagine).

So while marketing gets all the publicity, the workhorses of brand building go comparatively unheralded. They fall loosely into four areas: purpose, people, products and processes. Here’s a checklist of things to check and do to get your brand humming:

1. Have something you care about.

2. Make it visible in the way you do things so others can care about it to.

3. Find people to hire who share that purpose.

4. Figure out your values mix and hire people who also share them.

5. Hire and fire people in ways that support and reinforce what you care about and your values.

6. Build what you care about into every nook and cranny of what you sell and how you sell it.

7. Sell products and services that people will want to buy from you (sounds obvious but really think about this one, especially the ‘from you’ part).

8. Finish off the sales process. It isn’t done until what you are selling – product or service, is shipped, delivered, billed, paid for and followed up.

9. Think about and design your whole selling process, not just the thing you’re selling, so it all aligns. In person, online, a shop, a market stall, mail order…

10. Make sure your terms and conditions aren’t just picked up from a template.

11. Start with plain English terms and conditions – what is your intent, then put them through legal, then retranslate so people can understand them.

12. Have policies that support and align with your purpose and values.

13. Eat your own dog food – use your own products and services where appropriate.

14. Have a person answer the phone (you’re an SME, this you can do).

15. Smile when someone comes in the door (unless being grumpy is what you care about, in which case don’t).

16. Acknowledge the things people do. Say thanks I got it. Good to meet you. Thanks for supporting us.

17. Connect the dots of your different operational processes and how they overlap and impact your customers. Sales. Finance. Production.

18. Set some key measures (not just metrics) that align around what you care about. Even if they are qualitative they will help you see how you’re doing.

19. Be consistent in whatever your “thing” is – this is the hardest thing on the list for any company.

20. Don’t let things slide. Show up every day on the little things as well as the big initiatives.

Now make your own list of all the things you do every day that aren’t directly related to marketing. Yep, that’s your brand being built.

You can do marketing without really thinking about any of the things in the list above – hell plenty of companies do. You can’t build a strong, resilient organisation and brand that keeps its promises without them.

See you next week.

Michel is an independent brand analyst 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 michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan

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Michel Hogan

Michel Hogan is an independent brand thinker and adviser dedicated to helping you make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make — with a strong, resilient organisation and brand as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com.

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