New Year Brand Resolutions

A confession: I am not a big fan of New Year resolutions.  For me, April 25 or September 9 or December 12 is as good a day as January 1 to make a change.  But since so many people fixate on January 1 to rededicate themselves to improvement, why not add brand resolutions to the eat-less, exercise-more, watch-less-TV, get-organized list you’re compiling?

Brand improvements probably have not been high on many New Year resolution lists the past few years.  Many companies have been in survival mode, trying to make it through another year without erosion of sales and profits.  Maybe 2012 is the year to move the focus from survival to growth.  If so, here are a few brand resolutions to help get your company growing:

Research how your brand is viewed – How you feel about your brand is irrelevant.  How your customers and prospects feel about your brand is the most important issue because it impacts if they buy from you or consider buying from you.  As a first step, speak with some of your best customers and ask them why they buy and, more specifically, why they buy from you.  You may be surprised by some of the answers.  With this information, survey a wider group of customers and prospects to learn if the feelings unveiled in the interviews hold true.  You may discover a profitably niche over which you can claim ownership.

Revisit your value proposition –  A lot has happened over the past four or five years.  Make sure your value proposition is still germane in today’s market.  If you do not have a written value proposition, 2012 is the time to create one.  The value proposition should be a paragraph or two that defines the market segments you serve and how you serve them better than any of your competitors.  The value proposition should provide a quick answer to the question: Why should I buy from your company?  Combine the value proposition exercise with research noted in the section above to make sure the value proposition reflects how customers view your company.

Audit your marketing – Do the prices your company charges for products and services convey the value customers receive?  Does your messaging consistently communicate the key points of your value proposition?  Are the communications vehicles you use in sync with your brand and how your target markets prefer to get their information?  You should audit all your marketing to find any disconnects between your value proposition and your marketing so you maximize the value of your marketing spend and avoid confusion in the marketplace.

Align your brand and operations –  Marketing is not the only place a disconnect can happen.  The brand may not be “lived” by the sales group, customer service, finance and other parts of the company that can impact the brand.  Every person in the company should have part of their performance tied to brand performance.  In co-developing performance objectives with your employees ask each of them how their job impacts the company brand.  Then build an appropriate objective into the employee’s goals for 2012 and provide timely feedback during the year on how well he/she is meeting the objective.  Also, the brand should be as important as financial results when considering budgets, capital expenditures, new products, acquisitions, mergers, personnel changes, etc.  Someone considering these changes should ask: How does this change impact our brand?

There is a lot on the plate coming back after the holidays.  If you don’t think you can dedicate the resources to your brand resolutions in January, that’s understandable.  You can diary them for March 5 or June 11 or whenever you think you can put the right resources behind the effort.  The important thing is making the commitment to do it and to dedicate the necessary time, funds and talents to do the job right because it will have a major impact on your company in the months and years ahead.

 

Wishing you all the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!

 

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