Branding Questionnaire

WHAT IS A BRAND?

The Dictionary of Business and Management defines a brand as:

“a name, sign or symbol used to identify items or services of the seller(s) and to differentiate them from goods of competitors.”

Signs and symbols are part of what a brand is, but to us this is a very incomplete defnition. Walter Landor, one of the greats of the advertising industry, said:

“simply put, a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality.”

In his book, ‘Building Strong Brands’ David Aaker suggests the brand is a ‘mental box’ and gives a definition of brand equity as:

“a set of assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand’s name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service…”

This is an important point, brands are not necessarily positive! Building from this idea of a ‘mental box’ a more poetic definition might be:

“A brand is the most valuable real-estate in the world, a corner of the consumer’s mind”.

These are all great definitions, but we believe the best is this:

“A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer”.

Why is it best? Well, first of all it is easy to remember, which is always useful! But it is also best because it works to remind us of some key points:

  • This definition makes it absolutely clear that a brand is very different from a product or service. A brand is intangible and exists in the mind of the consumer.
  • This definition helps us understand the idea of brand loyalty and the ‘loyalty ladder’. Different people have different perceptions of a product or service, which places them at different points on the loyalty ladder.
  • This definition helps us to understand how advertising works. Advertising has to sell, and it achieves this by positively influencing people’s perceptions of the product or service thus “Creating a First Impression to be a lasting Impression.” Is a vital part of the branding process.

Every interaction the customer has with you, influences their perceptions. The product experience, customer service, slogans, ads, and even product manuals all contribute to the customer perception of your company or product. Your job is to cultivate, guard, and maintain a strong brand – the rewards, of which, are consistently loyal customers and a continual increase in customer preference.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD BRAND?

A good brand communicates a clear message about what it stands for and how it differs from competitors. It stems from your product positioning and customers understand and internalize the brand through its consistent use. Each touch point within your customers’ experience should seek to reinforce this same message. With a well-crafted strategy, a good brand begins to look more like a belief system than anything else.

It takes on a vibrant life of its own, and customers will stand behind the brand, adopting its claims and evangelizing it to others. Major national brands know this and use it to great effect. Coke has us believing it is “The real thing”. BMW owners believe they have the ‘Ultimate driving machine’, rather than just an ordinary, stuffy luxury car. These brands and their promises have grown beyond mere slogans, evolving into living icons for the company and their believers.

PURPOSE OF THIS QUESTIONNAIRE

This analysis is designed to help us understand your current brand and the context surrounding it. This process may reveal a strong and vibrant brand – or it may illuminate missing areas and lack of focus. If the latter is the case, it opens the door for discussion on these.

  • Understanding how a brand started can be an important aspect to its story. Where did it come from? Who was behind it? Has it changed or evolved?
  • Product(s)? Services? Record of growth.
  • How would you describe the personality/ philosophy of the company? What is the leadership like? How does the culture effect how you relate to customers?
  • Describe the industry and the market your products or services are in. What makes this group unique?
  • What are the most important issues to them as a whole? What do they value above all else in a purchasing decision? What are the unique advantages of the product?
  • What are the values they look for in products such as yours? What are the "top of mind questions" when you are first contacted? What concerns do they have before purchasing? What problem does the product solve for the consumer?
  • List the key decision points in sequential order. Is it price then quality? Do they choose product integration over price?
  • How do customers perceive you? Who are you to them? Are you the industry leader or are you the up and coming innovator? How do they relate to you as opposed to your competition?
  • How does the above question differ from your competitors? Given your both selling a similar product, what makes yours worth the customer's money and not theirs?
  • What is your products competition and who are the competitors? How does the product stand in relation to the competitors? Which competitors pose the greatest threat? Are there important differences between your product and the competition?
  • Ads, Pricing, etc.?
  • Demographics. Who influences the buying? Household Income? Daily purchasing habits– e.g. Starbucks or McDonnell's, Walmart or HomeGoods?
  • What type of emotional sell would help motivate them to buy your product?
  • (i.e., price, lack or awareness)
  • Help us understand the character and interpersonal dynamics of the relationship between the company and its customers. Consider what attributes best describe your company and an animal that represents them. Then explain those attributes and describe how the animal you chose best represents your business.