Twenty-three questions to help small businesses build their brand

SmartCompany, July 25, 2017

It will be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that the incessant discussion of the brand as a subset of marketing sends me round the twist. So, here are some questions to ask that will help expand your horizons when thinking about your brand.

  1. Do you know what your organisation’s identity is? That’s the combination of core values (the real ones that show up in how people act, not the all star list), and purpose — the reason your company exists (somewhere between making money and world peace).
  2. Does everyone from the chief executive to the person in shipping know what the purpose and values are, and most importantly, how they relate to their jobs?
  3. Do you know what you mean by the words you use and what defines them (for you, not the Oxford dictionary)? Here’s a short selection: quality, service, innovation, respect …
  4. Do your policies and procedures reflect what you care about and how you do things?
  5. Do you use your identity to frame the way you hire people (beyond the words in your ad)?
  6. How does the way you carry out training reinforce your brand?

To learn more about hiring for the best fit click here.

  1. Do you think about the customer’s experience from end to end and know where the black holes and barriers are that lead to broken promises?
  2. Is providing customer service calculated as a cost or seen as an information asset?
  3. Does the information collected by customer service get looped back into the rest of the business to influence change?
  4. Do you have a customer rewards program? Why not?
  5. When designing new products and services do you actively refer to your identity of purpose and values?
  6. Do your communications make promises you can keep?
  7. Does the way your marketing looks (image and logo) support what you care about?
  8. When and what do you outsource? How do you decide?
  9. Do the people you outsource to know what you stand for and how what they do for you is important?
  10. If it’s manufacturing you outsource, is it here or overseas? Does the choice align with your purpose?
  11. Do you offer a guarantee? What is it and why? Is it worth talking about or aligned with the industry standard?
  12. What technologies do you choose to use? Do they help you do what you care about or get in the way?
  13. What methods and terms of payment do you offer? Why?
  14. If you offer customer accounts, how do you decide who gets one? Do people applying know the criteria?
  15. How do you handle billing disputes, service failures or product returns?
  16. Do you want to stay and grow your business or do you want to flip it and move on?
  17. How do you fund growth? Bootstrap, investors or a bank? Does the choice align with your purpose?

The list could easily be twice as long, however, given your brand is the ongoing result of all the actions and decisions of the organisation, everything on this list has the potential to strengthen, undermine or outright destroy it.

So how does your organisation stack up against the list? Do you bring a deliberate and conscious mindset aligned to what you care about to all parts of your organisation? What would you add?