most companies don’t do what great brands do:  brand assessment results

Only 6% of surveyed companies are doing what great brands do.  This and other results were gleaned from participation in the brand assessment that I recently invited my blog readers and newsletter community to take.girl taking test

The brand assessment asked people to rate their companies on the following measures using a scale of 1 and 10 between the “1” and “2” options:

  1. The gap between our brand promise and what we actually deliver
    1. Can be quite significant at times – we’re good at saying what we believe but less consistent in actually doing it
    2. Is practically non-existent – we pretty much always do what we say
  2. We use our brand primarily as…
    1. An awareness generator and goodwill producer
    2. A driver and compass for everything the company does
  3. Spending on the brand is viewed as…
    1. A cost of doing business that tends to get cut when budgets are tight
    2. An investment to sustain the core of the business
  4. Key brand stakeholders…
    1. Tend to disagree about what’s “on brand” and what’s not
    2. Share one common understanding of the brand and how to interpret and reinforce it
  5. To build our brand…
    1. The marketing department promotes the brand in creative campaigns
    2. Everyone in the company nurtures and reinforces the brand on a daily basis, at every touchpoint
  6. The leaders of our organization…
    1. Communicate about our brand usually only when we launch new marketing campaigns
    2. Talk with stakeholders regularly and consistently about what our brand stands for and everyone’s roles in delivering it
  7. When it comes to human resources, we use our brand…
    1. To bring excitement to employee rallies and corporate meetings
    2. As a filter for recruitment, as a tool for training, and as a motivator for retention
  8. We deliver customer experiences that are…
    1. Based on general customer service principles
    2. Designed down to the details to convey our brand identity and personality
  9. Inside our organization, our brand identity and positioning…
    1. Is mostly understood intuitively – we haven’t clearly articulated it to our people
    2. Has been clearly defined and described for all our stakeholders
  10. Decision-making about our business tends to…
    1. Be based on producing short-term business results
    2. Reflect a commitment to doing what’s right for our brand in the long-term

Here’s a recap of the results:

  • 71% of participants did not rate their companies highly (rating 8 out of 10) on any of these measures
  • 19% rated their companies highly on 1-4 of the measures
  • 6% rated their companies highly on 5-7 of the measures
  • Only 6% rated their companies highly on 8 or more of the measures

The areas that were most frequently rated highly were:

  • #1 – the size of the gap between the brand promise and what is actually delivered — the gap isn’t that big
  • #6 – the nature and frequency of communication by leaders of the organization about the brand — they’re talking regularly and consistently about what their brand stands for and everyone’s roles in delivering it

The areas that received the fewest high ratings were:

  • #2 – how the brand is used externally – mostly it’s for awareness and goodwill
  • #5 – how the brand is built — marketing campaigns are more common than organization-wide efforts
  • #7 – how the brand is used internally — primarily for creating excitement among employees
  • #8 – how customer experiences are designed – they’re not specifically designed to be on-brand

Of course, given the way the assessment is offered (including a limited and biased sample pool), these results cannot be considered representative of the general business community.  The value of these results, therefore, is primarily comparative and directional.

As such, the general conclusion is that most companies are still using their brands for creating an image or promoting a message externally.  Very few conceive of and use their brands as management tools to fuel, align, and guide their organizations – building their brands from the inside out.

I think we see these results because most company leaders do not understand their role in operationalizing their brands.  They may communicate that each person in the organization plays a role in delivering the brand, but they themselves might not be leading their organizations with that mindset.  Perhaps they and their executive teams are not aligning their business strategies and operations (e.g., decisions about which customer segments to target, which new product ideas to pursue, etc.) with the brand identity, values, and attributes.  They may expect front line employees to represent the brand appropriately on the sales floor, for example, without recognizing that as company’s leaders, they must first design on-brand customer experiences through product development and selection strategies, service policies and training strategies, pricing decisions, store environment investments, etc. before they can expect their employees to deliver those experiences.

I wrote What Great Brands Do to explain the management principles that have been used by companies to build powerful, profitable brands and become industry icons.  It discusses the brand-building leadership opportunity.  If you find your organization among the many that haven’t yet adopted your brand as the driver of your culture, core operations, and customer experience, I hope you will check it out and share it among your executive team.

(Thanks to all who have taken the assessment so far!  I’d love to continue to collect results – you can participate here.)


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