The first thing I ask when I meet a client is whether they have a brand document I can read. If they do have one, it’s usually located after a lengthy search around their office and of their computer. After blowing the dust away, I open it and almost always find a perfectly rational document, using lofty and beautiful words that, taken together, are meaningless, uninspiring, and incapable of being acted upon.
The realization I’ve come to over the years is that these brand documents are intellectual exercises that fail to excite the heart, and, as a result, are a waste of time. We know a better way. It’s called Brand Activism™.
The simple fact is that a brand document has to get the heart pumping, and the reason we developed Brand Activism™. It’s intent is to give life to your brand by identifying and then leveraging that core spark that ignites passion within both the company and your consumers. Brand Activism™ brings your vision to life, because it’s your vision – the reason you started the company in the first place– where the true power of the brand resides. And the final brand document – what we call the Brand Platform – serves as a fuse that, when lit, is the strategic foundation that powers your brand to long-term success.
Here is a Brand Activism™ checklist that will ensure you create that spark:
Key Benefit. Too often, the benefit is something like ‘highest quality’ or ‘most effective’ but research shows these generic statements don’t have meaning to consumers. You must be specific, and often companies are afraid of that because they believe being specific somehow limits the true potential of the brand. We’ve learned that is simply not true because a clearly articulated benefit is the root of brand meaning.
Reason(s) for the key benefit. These are the things you offer or do that provide the proof points to your key benefit and make it believable. In truth, collectively, these reasons are the storyline for your brand and provide directional strategy for your marketing efforts.
Brand Attributes. Research shows that the best – and worst – brands take on a human persona that becomes the emotional link to your customers. Our recommendation is to develop a list of the 5 key personality traits that you want people to associate with your brand. And then prioritize them. Your marketing team will then translate these attributes into both visual and verbal touch points that will provide the emotional centerpiece for your brand.
Internal alignment. This is essential to any company in bringing to life what you stand for. Too often, the internal executives and those in the field representing your brand have different interpretations of what you stand for. So the Brand Activism process must ensure every key staff member is on the same page. This means ensuring all voices are heard and feel a part of the process as you reach alignment on the key brand issues.
External alignment. And finally, the ultimate judge of your brand is the consumer, so be sure you talk to them to ensure they truly want and identify with what you stand for. Find out what they’re missing in the category and determine how your brand best meets these needs and market opportunities. Then, if you find you need to revise your internal statement to better reflect the consumer reality, be certain it’s authentic to who you are, what you do and the product or service you offer.
We believe that, if you follow this brief but essential Brand Activism™ checklist, you’ll set in motion the full power of your brand and build long-term success. Good luck!