Brand Evolution – The Equity Study: Chapter 2
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Brand Equity Study
This may sound overwhelming – after all, you just wanted to come up with a cool name for your product, not conduct research.
A brand equity study reveals the heart of the real customer experience and your status as a relevant thing in their lives. It will act as a trusted roadmap for your next move. If you don’t have any customers yet, adjust to a Competitor Brand Study and include potential customers based on your product offerings.
Customers: Customers cannot be only the people who buy your product or service
Anyone who interacts with your company – employees, affiliates or partners, resellers, direct customers, reseller-customers, prospects and leads — are all customers. Without people making, selling, marketing, supporting or buying your product, a company has little purpose, and therefore the brand has no equity.
Every group brings valuable insights you can use to build a better brand or steer you in the right direction for a product name that will resonate. Most of all, don’t be afraid of the truth. Some of the company’s biggest critics are going to provide the most useful information, and often become its biggest allies. It all depends on how you receive, and what you choose to do, with the information they give you.
Surveys: Sugarcoating the truth leads to brand cavities
Be brave. Good brand pros have effective questions designed to get answers about your brand. You could write the questions yourself, but every word in each question is critically important, not to mention the order in which they are asked. Anytime you feel yourself wanting to step in and control the process is usually the exact time to leave it to the pros. Something as simple as the difference between ‘would’ and ‘could’ or ‘is’ and ‘are’ make a striking difference in the outcome and shading of the answer. The last thing you want to do is coach a desired answer. People have a natural tendency to want to please, but remember, you are looking for the truth. Never pay or offer a reward to participants beyond improvements to your offerings.
It’s important how you perform the outreach to each of the groups, and even who asks the questions and what they say and what tone they use. All the answers need to be carefully recorded, segmented and served up truthfully and in a way that compels action.
Comparison: Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride
After the survey, go back to the original values. Look back at the stated intention of the company and current positioning of the product(s) or service(s). If no brand strategy was ever developed, chances are there isn’t a written brand promise, but find it you must. It lurks somewhere – perhaps in the product itself, or it’s original inspiration. It’s there somewhere.
You need a “before” and “now” view – the company or founder’s aspiration compared to customer reality. Don’t be shocked by the disparity between the two, this is common for most companies embarking on their first or even second brand equity study. Be confident there will be points of failure, but be equally confident that armed with the data, you are empowered to make the right next move.
Roadmap: Next Rest Area 80 miles
Your brand professional should present the findings to the senior management team, preferably offsite with phones and laptops off. This is a time for processing, brainstorming and laser focus. Ensure the brainpower around the table gives their best, full attention to the issue at hand. Your brand professional should provide the information without filters and lead an interactive, productive meeting. It should result in a plan of action adopted by the team. This requires disciplined follow up otherwise it will die on the table.
Healing a broken brand promise is a serious undertaking and requires investment, perseverance and most of all, care.
Often, an adjustment of stated core values and the brand promise are necessary. Sometimes a company rebrand is necessary. It also means coming up with a realistic plan to meet the values and promise. Resist the urge to shape or control the study to make the truth more comfortable. This is a critical time of responsibility for every senior leader.
Ok, now that the basics are covered, let’s move on to the fun stuff. Chapter 3, The Magic Hour