It’s the most wonderful time of the year—nope, not the holidays. Those are over and it’s time for my favorite New Year’s tradition: resolutions.
As you look through the ups and downs of last year, think about the business goals you have for this year. How are you going to get there? What tools are you going to need? Who will be on your team to help support you and keep you accountable to those goals?
Where is branding on that list? Is it at the top?
Without knowing your brand, you risk not creating clear and consistent messaging. More importantly, that messaging needs to be targeted and in line with your desired audience. It also needs to ring true, not just to customers but also to those within your organization.
Here are three reasons why a new or refined brand strategy must be at the top of your business’s resolutions this year:
- Research: You need to create a list of questions and have someone, preferably an agency or objective third party, sit down with customers, former customers, employees and other stakeholders to ask for their frank, confidential opinion on all the issues you hope to tackle this year.Without research, you have no feedback on how your customers, former customers and employees feel about your business. Why does this matter? You might end up rolling out a new product that promotes a feature that your customers don’t care about. Or you might unveil new company values that fall flat for employees who are struggling with larger workplace issues.
- Reality: Sometimes, the evidence isn’t pretty. Customers and employees have information or opinions that are difficult to swallow, or they have issues you may not have realized. There will also be positive information, and this may not be where you expect it either! Listen to the feedback with an open mind, and help it shape your brand to be rooted in truth and integrity.This step is where the third party really comes into play. Once you have all the answers from stakeholders, you’ll need to synthesize that information into something that is not only digestible, but also inspirational. It helps to have someone who can be objective do this work, as you may not like everything you hear. In some cases, the brand strategist is the detective. They have to weave a coherent (and provable) story out of a mountain of evidence. They have to listen to the evidence first—instead of using the evidence to back up a presumption or guess.
- Response: A solid brand is also important when response comes in the form of a crisis, and you need to provide an answer or solution to the media and the public. When your audience trusts you and knows what you stand for, it’s much easier to weather a crisis storm. If you say one thing but the company really does another, your brand and that crisis are in for a lot of late nights.You will likely find that your renewed understanding of your brand has given you the insight you need to easily draft messages that aren’t pulled out of the air. When you know what your customers and employees want, you can more easily communicate what you have or even why you don’t have it, in a way that speaks directly to them.
Response comes into play when you are planning your public relations strategy. Understanding what your audience thinks, and how they perceive your strengths and challenges are essential when you begin to write messaging, website copy and even pitch the media.
- Repeat: Repeat! It’s just what you think. Just as your company is slowly evolving and growing, so is your brand. Keep in mind that consistency is key, and continue to check the pulse of the exterior and interior stakeholders in your company.
Now that you’re done with your business resolutions, it’s time to get on to the fun stuff. What are your personal New Year’s Resolutions? Let us know in the comments below!