As we move forward into 2019, this is a great time to make sure your brand’s vitals are in order. Being fit and ready for primetime is more than just having a great product or story; a business health check ensures that everything is in working order, that the right goals are set, warning signs are mitigated, and your company or product is ready for primetime.
Here is a 6-step health check to ensure your company success in 2019.
1. Trade Dress – Trade dress is the totality of a product’s look and feel, and includes logos, fonts, colors, and design. A product’s trade dress appears on all consumer-facing platforms, as a critical component of how your brand communicates. By way of example, there was a famous case in 1999 where a company created a computer called the EONE. The “emachines” looked exactly like the Apple iMac, but it wasn’t an Apple product. From the design and pantones, to even the keyboard, the EONE was capitalizing on the Apple iMac trade dress with their copycat version. The product was ultimately pulled from the market, yet stands to this day as a great example of how important trade dress. The consumer goodwill that Apple had created with the iMac was so powerful that unknowing consumers were buying the EONE., either not realizing it was not an Apple iMac, or thinking it was as good as an Apple iMac.
Some things to review: make sure your logo is being used identically on every platform (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and website). Ask the questions: do the materials feel unified; is everything consistent?
2. Messaging and Positioning – How you speak about your brand is critical to its health and must be consistent on all consumer-facing properties. Your brand must have a positioning document, with the following questions answered:
What does your company do? (this is one clear sentence)
What is your company’s USP (unique selling proposition)
What are your brand’s top 3-5 attributes?
Who are your competitors?
In addition, make sure your USP is clearly communicated across all consumer-facing properties and keep track of how your company and competitors are being discussed in the media with tools like Meltwater’s Media Intelligence Solution. The dashboard is great for reporting and tracking, and analytics like message penetration and sentiment.
3. 6-Month Strategy – Look at the year ahead with goals and metrics. To achieve this you want to identify your business goals, align the PR goals by identifying how your media goals will contribute to achieving these goals, and plan to do more of what is working and eliminate what is not. You must understand who your audience is and how you can either build a better relationship with them or course correct. Use the numbers, insights, and correlations linked to customer retention; awareness in marketplace, which includes online editorial content and social listening; audience growth, which can be broken down by region, frequency and demographics; impressions and engagements, which includes who owns the share of voice in the media; and new business. One great way to use research platforms for new business is to show the data. You might need to shift the perception a client has about their own brand with data from a monitoring solution.
4. Brand Spokespeople – Who is the face of your brand? Who speaks on behalf of the company? Who does your audience associate with your brand most strongly? Brand spokespeople can include company leaders, such as the President or CEO; internal experts; customers; partners; external influencers; and even paid actors or characters (i.e. Ronald McDonald). A brand spokesperson must be trained and meet the following criteria:
A spokesperson must be trained in all messaging and positioning
A spokesperson must be able to cross all applicable platforms such as broadcast/television, radio, podcasts, print and live interviews/speaking engagements.
A spokesperson must be camera savvy and media-presentable.
A spokesperson must have their own social media profiles in order and ready for primetime.
Identifying a good brand spokesperson can be tricky, but with some careful planning and research, such as measuring effectiveness, this can be easily accomplished.
5. Intellectual Property – This may surprise you but many companies fail to properly secure their own IP. If you don’t, there’s a chance that someone else will, stealing consumer goodwill and competitive advantage. Here is an IP checklist:
Secure necessary trademarks, including logos
Secure necessary copyrights
Secure patents for any relevant technologies or processes
The proper use of a trademark use notice includes the ™, which means a common law trademark, that the company is using the term as a trademark; and the ® , which means that the mark owner possesses a federal registration for the mark.
6. Crisis Management – How your company responds to a crisis will either give it the much-needed boost it needs or significantly damage the brand. Some examples include product liability, when a product fails and someone is hurt; employee issues, such as a disgruntled worker taking serious action against the brand; and natural disasters that are out of our control. Last year the company Build-A-Bear launched a promotion called “pay your age” where you could build your own bear based on how old you were. Children everywhere loved the campaign and there was a huge turnout at Build-A-Bear locations nationwide. Unfortunately, the company did not anticipate such a positive turnout and did not have enough bears to fulfill the promise. This was a massive PR disaster for Build-A-Bear and the CEO of the brand was forced to go on national television to address it. The CEO did the right thing and admitted that they were not prepared, which was a good thing but did not have an immediate remedy for the thousands of children who were unable to get bears. Here is a checklist for ultimate crisis management:
Create a crisis management committee to make decisions and review outgoing messaging during and after the crisis.
Designate a system for identifying a crisis quickly
Designate personnel to interact with the media and public
Create systems to post updated information and messaging as quickly as possible
Create backup and duplicate systems in the case of errors or system failures
Guest post by Paula Conway President and Founder, Astonish Media Group