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About The Author Martin Lindstrom is the founder and chairman of Lindstrom Company, the world’s leading brand & culture transformation group, operating across five continents and more than 30 countries. TIME Magazine has named Lindstrom one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People.” Lindstrom is a high profile speaker and author of 7 New York Times best-selling books.

In many ways, brands are like people. They are 100% dependent on humans and, just like you go to the doctor for your annual physical, your brand needs a yearly check-up to make sure it’s still healthy. Most brands rarely, if ever, get a checkup.

It’s frightening to how many startups, small companies and mega brands assume immortality, when they should constantly be aware of the loose grip that they have on their consumer base. How do you conduct a brand checkup? Here’s my suggested 3-part method.

First, make it physical by inviting everyone in your team, including senior management, into a large conference room. In advance of your session, you’ll need to prepare three exercises: I assume you’re monitoring the social media sphere already – if not, you’d better get started – but here’s the question: how well are you performing compared with your competition?

Pick your top 2 competitors and then ask the participating teams to review your brands and the competing brand consumer posts. Discuss them in break-out groups and then ask them to categorize their feedback into 5 buckets:

Their degree of emotional attachment to the brand

Their respect for the brand

The values they associate with the brand

Their respect for the brand

The negative sides of the brand, according to the customers

As you sort the feedback, add a score of 1-10 to each item, based on importance. Then, hang them all on the wall in order to create a full overview. Ask everyone in the room to discuss the overall trend. Write down the top 10 conclusions you’re able to draw from the feedback.

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While everyone is in the room, your second mission is to assess the degree your brand stands out from the competition. Get access to all the ads, banner ads, images, posts etc. you and your competing brands have run in the past year. Then, cover up everyone’s logos. Ask the team to quickly match a brand name with the ads they see. Does your brand hold a distinctive tone-of-voice, or is it all just bland?

Finally, write your brand’s values on a large sign on the back wall of your room. Place your branding communications under the value that best fits it. Then, step back and look at the full picture. Are certain values overcrowded with pieces? Are others completely blank?

By the end of this session, which should take no longer than 3 hours, you’ll have a fairly good idea about the condition of your brand. As is the case with any short check-up, you’ll certainly have a good indication if your brand is healthy and enough information for you to determine if more tests are needed.

hc_author_1This article is authored by Martin Lindstrom, one of the world’s leading brand expert and author of several New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books, including Buyology (Doubleday, New York, 2008) and Brandwashed (Crown, New York, 2011).

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