5 questions to help you determine if you really have a brand

In the last couple of weeks, I have had a lot of conversations with fellow marketing consultants and small business owners about “branding”.  In these conversations, a recurring theme has come up:  not everyone is really clear about what a brand is, and if they really have one.  So in this blog, I have decided to help define what a brand is, and then list 5 key questions you can ask yourself to determine if you really do have a brand.

First of all, there are many definitions of a brand that are attributed to many thought leaders in marketing.  I should not claim that this is my definition in any way.  But here is a take on a brand:  It is an idea that resides in the mind of your consumers, that is based on their experiences with the benefit that your product or service provides.   This idea should give your consumers an emotional connection to your product or service.  If they have this positive emotional connection, this is an important asset to you — and your first clue that you have a brand on your hands!

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself that will help you determine if you have a brand.  There are a few more questions you should consider beyond this, but it is a start.

  1. Can you really describe the target consumer for your brand?  (What I mean by this is do you know the demographics, psycho-graphics, and behaviors of your target consumer so that you know how your brand fits into their life?)
  2. What core benefit does your brand provide to your consumer?  (This benefit should be stable and unchanging.  For instance, Tide’s benefit is all about cleaning your clothes so that they can be the best they can be.  Starbuck’s benefit is all about providing a great coffee experience).
  3. If you asked your consumers what your brand’s core benefit is, would they answer the same answer as #2?
  4. How is your brand’s core benefit different from your competitors’ brands?
  5. If consumers are asked to provide a few words that describe your brand’s personality, or how they feel when they think of your brand, do these words match what you would say?

(Note:  I can think of  about 8 more questions that should go on this list — but I think that these are the most important.  If you think there is a question that should be in the top 5, please send me a comment and let me know.  I would love to hear from you!)

If you can confidently answer questions 1-4, and can answer “yes” to #5, it looks like you might have a brand on your hands!  Congrats!  It is one of the most important assets your business has.  If you struggle to answer some of these, then maybe your brand isn’t as strong as it could be.  Talking to your employees and some of your consumers about their ideas to these questions can help you start to figure out how to make your brand stronger.


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