I’ve not been subtle in my assertions that branding is a journey, not a destination. And while it’s important to keep exploring, you shouldn’t forget to look back on your progress from time to time. Taking in what successes – and failures – you’ve had is crucial to your continued brand development and alignment. This is where the brand review comes in as such an important tool.
This particular Tolkein quote comes to mind:
‘The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet.’
Image you’re on an adventure – you may walk from morning to dusk, but if you do so without reprieve, you’re going to wear yourself out. And if you’re too tired, you can’t continue on or you’ll be slow to react to danger. You’re the hobbit, stepping from your door and onto a grand adventure. But if you don’t rest once in while, you’ll never appreciate how far you’ve come.
Similarly, a brand review lets you take stock of everything you’ve done so far – to notice potential dangers, plan the next steps forward and to spend time to congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made.
What is a Brand Review?
Much like everything in branding, a brand review is significantly deeper than it may first appear. Although there is an element of ensuring the brand’s assets (such as logos, social posts, website etc) are still visually suitable and consistent, there is a lot more to it. These surface level elements are important, but there is an even more vital role that a brand review fulfils.
The key purpose is to look at the brand itself as an entity and make sure that everything still fits. Is the messaging still correct? What’s worked and what hasn’t? It looks at the integration of the brand across all levels of the organisation. The main aim of a brand review is to ensure that every aspect of the brand is operating as well as can be and to find any weak links so they can be fixed.
A brand review is setting up camp after a day’s travelling. It’s a chance to take stock, identify problems, and plan for the next day’s travel.
How Does it Work?
The brand review is designed to find strengths and weaknesses in a brand, then address them. The best reviews look at past and present, as well as future. The importance of understanding where you’ve come from to get where you are cannot be understated. A plan based off past data will always be better. So it looks at your journey since the last review. It will search for inconsistencies in the brand’s message or identity. It will look at the company culture and interactions. Additionally, it will look at the brand’s presence and engagement. Basically, anything to do with the brand is fair game under the review.
But, it can’t do much without a framework. A journey without a destination is just wandering. Therefore, it will look to understand choices made through the lens of the target market. Understanding how your audience perceives the brand is critical to it’s health. The review looks at your market and how they’re engaging with the brand. You’ll be able to form a much better plan if you understand what your customers like about you!
As such, it’s important to know how your brand is perceived. So a brand review is both internal and external. The brand shouldn’t be looked at in a vacuum. Instead, it should be reviewed in relation to it’s eco system. This means competitors, suppliers and partners as well! Over time, your brand will change and evolve – and so will theirs! This means it’s important to look at how the brand is perceived in relation to other businesses.
Your brand vs competitors
You can understand where you may be open to attack through understanding your competition. Looking at who is currently in the market, how they’ve changed and if any new players have entered helps to make sure you keep your offering unique and fresh. It also helps you identify any areas your brand could move into that were previously occupied. Has another brand shifted their position and left a key market open? This could mean potential opportunity for your brand. It can also help you notice threats, such as new businesses who may be looking to step onto your territory!
Your brand and your suppliers
You can also take this opportunity to look at your suppliers. They may no longer be the best option of your own offering has changed. It’s worth thinking about what your needs are going to be and if they can still supply what you need. You should look at what they are offering and see how it fits into your plans going forward. It may be that they have new products or services that are an even better fit for your needs.
Your brand and your partners
Your brand will change and evolve, and so will your partners’. An audience may turn on your brand by it’s association with a brand they dislike. As such, it’s important to review your partnerships and make sure your values still line up. If your partners have changed, you’ll look different by association, and this will have an effect on the brand’s image.
It’s probably pretty clear what the benefits are. A brand review will uncover strengths and weaknesses, then form a plan going forward. By understanding your weaknesses you can form a plan to fix them. It can also let you play to your strengths – if a particular campaign worked well, you’ll know where to put more money in the future. You’ll also be a more attractive proposition to your clients by creating consistency and aligning your brand to what they want to see. This has the obvious effects of increasing revenue, and additionally helps you make easier decisions.
Solidifying your place in the market is another benefit. The review will uncover a lot about your position and let you act accordingly. This may mean changing suppliers to a more cost effective option. If a partner’s brand has negative a image, it may help you avoid negative PR by association. You may just find that your values no longer match your partner’s. Or, you could discover the potential for even closer collaboration. Crucially, it may provide early warning that your customers are unhappy with a particular direction, and let you change course accordingly.
And all of this information comes through the review.
A brand review may feel like a bit of a luxury, but it’s a vital part of continued success. You can’t go at 100% all the time, and it’s a great way to stop and evaluate what’s going on. It gives you time and space to review, discuss and strategise. It can justify your actions or change your entire direction.
Taking the time to set up camp is an important part of any adventure – as it is in your brand journey.
Need to think about a review? Book in for discussion here.
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