Rethinking brand health
A standard definition of a brand’s health might read like this:
Brand health can be defined as a measure of how well a company or brand delivers on certain attributes of a product or service that it promises its customers, especially how those attributes are perceived by customers in terms of quality and delight.
Brand managers often use primary research to track and assess brand performance. While this approach is good for understanding the external dimensions of brand performance, it overlooks an equally important aspect of a brand: the internal strength of a brand.
Internal health = Ability to scale
They say tall trees need deep roots. For a brand to be healthy externally, it must have key components in place to automate and scale its brand management approach. We recognize five ideas that are the roots that deliver the fruits for brand managers:
- Reimagined governance: For many, static PDFs and internally developed intranets are the tools that are available to deploy brand guidelines. Some are evolving to digitized guidelines. Fewer still have brand centers. Reimagination requires better technology and ideas on how to embed learning for active brand controls and use of AI and machine learning to deploy passive brand governance.
- Content management: Internal users of the brand are identical to external users of the brand in that they have unique needs for the problems they are trying to solve. Just as marketing would have a content calendar to create interest in the brand, brand leaders need content calendars to keep the internal audience engaged. Those needs are uncovered through research. Ideal programs include user-generated content and partner-developed content to ensure a broad flow of “best of” brand ideas.
- Executional capabilities: Collecting brand guidelines into central repositories is just the minimum to scale brand internally. Enhanced capabilities consist of integrations to content management systems. Speed and consistency are ensured while the security and data integrity needs of the internal IT group are met.
- Analytic guidance: A brand that is properly scaled internally will deliver externally. Most brand managers miss the opportunity to link the investment in brands to the market results tied to brand. Analytics guidance is optimized when the plans for the brand are linked to market research and usage analysis of the brand. Top performance emerges when consistent reporting on these measures are tied to programs that ensure all stakeholders of the brand understand the principles of the human problem the brand solves.
- Engagement principles: Like an app or a website, the brand lives in an ecosystem of people, process, and technology. Not only do brand managers need good definition of the brand’s single-minded idea and the artifacts around it, but there must also be an approach that reinforces those ideas by engaging with colleagues. It is not enough to set the rules– there must be a set of ever-evolving principles and a system that trains users on the brand and recognizes employees who adhere to the brand. It’s not like a cop who enforces the laws. It’s a community of brand nerds geeking out together on brand governance through the leadership of their brand concierge.
Healthy over time
It takes a bonsai tree no less than five and no more than 10 years of foundational management before it is ready for pruning (see article here). Brand managers would be well-served to think along the same lines. It’s not that progress will not be made, but the way in which progress occurs will vary. We note 5 modes of brand delivery:
- Impromptu: reactive teams as challenges emerge
- Planned: cycles of planning are centralized and top down
- Functional: cycles of planning are distributed down throughout the organization
- Progressive: delivery of brand ideas is empowered from the bottom up
- Best-in-Class: resilient organizations that harness all modes of delivery.
Brand scorecards inside out
A brand’s health starts on the inside. It combines components of governance and the evolution capabilities over time to scale brand. Seeing the landscape of brand governance from an internal perspective helps brand managers lobby for budgets, build long term plans, and address short term issues.
If you have questions on how to score your internal brand, please contact Greg Silverman, our Executive Director of Digital at email@example.com.
Stay tuned for Your Brand Scorecard: Part 2, in which we will dive into more ways to measure your brand’s health and the steps to improve it.