Your own best critic: How to evaluate your brand for the better
Running your own business is sort of like having a baby. It’s exhausting, exhilarating, it sometimes keeps you up all night, and you get pretty defensive if someone criticizes it.
But, unlike a baby, brands actually need some criticism once in a while. And because you know your own brand best, you can be the best person to do it (you just have to put your feelings aside for half an hour).
Taking a good, hard look at your brand and your business can unearth minor inconsistencies or major flaws – either way, it’s better to find them, and fix them, before someone else does.
Here’s how to do a mini brand evaluation next time you have a free half hour (or even if you don’t):
1: Voice your values
Get a piece of paper or open a document, and jot down your top five brand values. Since you’ve already established your brand, you should know these already, but it can’t hurt to refresh your memory.
Some examples of brand values:
- Eco friendly
- Value for money
2: Customer connections
Next, have a look at your brand touchpoints – all the places customers connect with your brand. Jot down your list on a piece of paper. Touchpoints could include your website, your shop (if you have one), signage, any emails or newsletters, advertising or marketing, even little things like letterhead and business cards.
3: Check consistency
This is a tricky one. Have a look at your brand touchpoints – or at least the most important ones – with a critical, honest eye. You’re looking for consistency – or lack of it.
- Are my fonts consistent? – consider size and colour here too.
- Are my colours consistent?
- Is my imagery consistent? Do your photos or graphics all have a similar style and feel?
- Is my logo presented consistently – is it the same shape, size, colour and location everywhere?
- Is my language style consistent?
- Note any inconsistencies you find so you can go back and change them (if possible).
4: The big brand value question
It’s easy to pick up on objective inconsistencies like font and colour, not so easy to think about brand values. Which is what makes this question a bit trickier.
Have a look at your touchpoints and ask yourself: Are my brand values reflected?
Brand values come across in everything you do – your choice of colours, imagery, fonts, your language style. If something doesn’t mesh with your brand values it should strike a sour note or look a bit off – it might be something as simple as using a bright, modern photo in an ad when your brand values are more artistic and creative. Or it could be something harder to solve – like your store front looking tired and old fashioned when your brand represents modernity and freshness.
Either way, it’s better to identify these off notes now, so you can figure out how to avoid them in the future.
5: Channel your Customers
This step requires a bit of imagination – but if you’re an entrepreneur, you should already have that in spades.
Pretend you’re a customer looking at all your brand touchpoints and ask yourself – would you choose to do business with you? Be honest. Did you get a positive, friendly, professional impression or was it incoherent and uninspiring?
Again, if there is a problem here, it might not be easy to solve. But if your brand is giving your customers the wrong impression – it’s most definitely better to know now.
Putting your audit into practice
Once you’ve had a good overall look at your brand, you’ll probably have some ideas about improving it. These might be things you can do yourself, or you might need to get other professionals on board – your developer, a graphic designer, a copywriter.
Whatever you need to do, do it now. If you don’t make changes while the issue is top of mind, you’re likely to get caught up with other things and let it slide.
So there you have it – a quick, brutally honest look at your brand. It might have made you feel a bit defensive (you love your baby, after all) but could end up being one of the most useful half hours you’ve spent in a long time.