Warning: The 4 Blind Spots of Your Brand

Did you know that your brand has natural blind spots?

Without intentionally considering these blind spots, leadership tends to let their brand simply drift forward unaware of opportunities and threats in their industry. This is where strategy suffers and why metrics never seem to rise. Because you want to see your brand from a 360-degree view, your prerogative is to work hard to understand these 4 blind spots.

Be strategic and gather insights from every key stakeholder

At any institution, there are several pockets of influence that tend to haunt brands. Sometimes these are department heads who have nothing to do with marketing or branding but don’t hesitate to share their disdain for the new company direction or initiative. In the healthcare industry, this is an influential doctor who is still upset his wisdom wasn’t considered during a rebrand that happened in the late ’80s. These ghosts love to mock progress at every turn, essentially haunting the brand, all to nurse a bruised ego.

But to be fair, many brand efforts are thrown together hastily and influential staff are overlooked. Meaningful branding initiatives include both quantitative data and qualitative data. This requires you to interview everyone at the top, which means lengthy, recorded meetings with board members, department heads, significant donors, directors, etc.

Gathering leadership input will do three things:

1. Make everyone feel involved, which builds momentum and is good office politics.
2. Genuinely enrich, confirm and validate your strategy.
3. Cause you, the brand steward, to reflect and gain brand clarity.

At first blush, gathering leadership’s input is your political safeguard, but doing the hard work of meeting with potential brand ghosts will provide you a clearer view of the brand.

Doing so will eliminate your first brand blind spot: a lack of clarity.

Consider your culture: employees are your internal customers

Picture this: A young admissions counselor travels to various high schools in her designated territory. She is tasked with raising recruitment in her area by 10%, which to her seems daunting.

Her booth is expertly designed, and like any quality recruiter she stands right in front of it at events, excitedly greeting students and handing out the best pens, pamphlets . . . swag. She knows which students will be there and where they are at in the recruitment cycle. Because she checks all the boxes, she should hit her 10% goal right?

But there is a major problem.

She doesn’t genuinely believe in her organization. Her pamphlets espouse the school values of character, honesty, respect and knowledge, but her team leader back in admissions doesn’t have a clue what she’s passionate about in her free time and hasn’t inquired about her career goals. Come to think of it, he only ever asks about her latest benchmarks anyway. Around the office her coworkers look taxed and the office culture appears to be eroding.

How long before this recruiter starts to slip in her performance?

The leadership’s intentions for the brand are noble, and they’ve created sophisticated marketing material for staff to use. Yet they are ignoring the internal aspects of the brand, mainly the employees who embody the brand to the market.

(Sidenote: This is not an issue for you to shuffle over to HR, this belongs in your marketing department. Employees are walking brand touchpoints, both to the public and each other.)

Keeping this in mind will ensure you prioritize the second brand blind spot: internal culture.

Conduct an honest customer analysis, then position your brand accordingly

Brands exist in two places:

1. Your head
2. In the minds of everyone else

The feelings you have about your brand matter, but best intentions don’t count.

Consider the latest advertising strategy of banks. No consumer actively seeks a distant, cold, greedy bank, which unfortunately is the default image of a bank at the moment. Instead, the consumer wants a “local bank” they can trust or an app that makes understanding financial information simpler. The problem is that every bank board thinks it is in charge of the good bank, not the criminal bank.

A wise brand leader realizes it doesn’t matter what she thinks about the brand; it only matters what others say about the brand when she isn’t in the room. To change public opinion requires a high level of intentionality.

This is an ongoing battle for the third blind spot: a lack of credibility with the customer.

To get credibility, collect and evaluate all marketing collateral (both past and present) and determined what you will redesign. Next conduct genuine research to actually hear public opinion and demand.

Obtain a real competitive advantage in the market

Chances are, your office is filled with strong opinions about your main competitor. Your team talks about that one school across town, or the manufacturer infiltrating the market with inferior products (but better packaging), or the new restaurant group who seems to follow you city to city.

These easily spotted rivals can crowd your vision. They seem to mirror your every move. Are they following your social media accounts? Reading your inbox?

But while you were busy in the annual arms race, a much larger player vertically integrated itself into your market. Their catalog is mediocre, but their impressive distribution capabilities enable them to produce a product at a much lower price point, diluting your differentiation strategy.

You woke up today thinking about how to foil your adversary’s plans, but now you’re contemplating a merger!

The final brand blind spot is competition. Not fully understanding the competitive landscape leaves every school, hospital, bank, nonprofit, restaurant, manufacturer and taco truck vulnerable to the tides of the market.

Now what?

Because your organization has four core blind spots (clarity, culture, credibility and competition), the team at Daake developed a diagnostic process for leaders to engage called the 4 C’s of Brand Audit.

This audit provides a 360-degree view of your company that you were looking for — a true foundation for leaders to build an informed strategy.

About Daake

We are brand design experts who deliver transformative ideas to the nation’s marketing professionals and CEOs as they seek guidance, clarity and excitement for their brand.

We would love to hear more about what you have in mind for your next project. Call Greg Daake at 402.933.1094.

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