Does Your Brand Need a Makeover? Here are 5-Ways to Tell

Do you remember New Coke?

It was the unofficial name for the new formulation of Coca-Cola back in 1985.

Then, in 1992, they renamed it Coke II.

And in 2002, it was off the market.

Product names, design elements even taglines evolve and change over time. What stays the same, is the heart of the brand.

Coca-Cola has held firm to it’s brand values, vision and place in the market despite playing around with a few product names.

But if you’re not a Coca-Cola, how do you know if you’ve over experimented, over designed and have generally over done it and created brand confusion?

Take any one of these tests and find out:

  1. Does it pass the T-Shirt test?       
    If the essence of your brand can easily translate onto a t-shirt, you’re golden. If however, your brand is consumed with abstract or over generalized statements like “women that crave a life of abundance” then you may need to sit in the makeover chair. Who do you need to become in order to have that abundant life?  How can you translate your brand purpose into an actionable phrase or expression? Whittle down your umbrella statement - like life of abundance - into an umbrella spoke like “hear me roar.” I don’t know about you but I’d wear that t-shirt any day of the week!

  2. Does it pass the “that one!” test
    If your website were featured on a screen alongside two similar brands - like a visual taste test - would people point to yours and say, that one? From a design perspective, too many bells and whistles create strain on the eye making it difficult to engage and connect with. The same is true of copy. Too much rambling, not enough clear instruction, zero personalization and your site visitor is clicking the back button faster than a contestant hitting the buzzer on Family Feud.

  3. Does it work on a mug?
    Like the t-shirt test, the mug test is a test of clarity. Inspirational, motivational or humorous your brand must hit an emotional note that’s so succinct it can fit onto a mug and so relatable people will eagerly want to share photos of it on their social media feed. The mug test works for brand messages or even product messages. A couple years ago, I created a digital course called Ditch the Pitch. It was a course about selling without pitching. When I came up with the course name, I wanted something people could proudly show-off, in mug form, because it spoke to a value they cared about, selling without being obnoxious.

  4. Can a small child buy-in?
    I used to think communicating at a 10-year old level meant dumbing down my message, and my intelligence, until I realized two things: 1) most people are on information overload and 2) we’re usually too close to our own message to see it through the eyes of a beginner. By adjusting your brand message so that it’s clear to a child, you make it easy for your people to understand at first read. And nothing is easier, and more clear to understand and take notice of than a well told story. The language of story is universal because it’s an ageless and timeless form of communication.

  5. Does it pass the cocktail-party test?
    It’s been proven that even in a crowded bar, our ears perk up at the sound of our own name. Keep that in mind when you talk about what you do because people will perk up to your introduction, your personal story and your presentation when they hear themselves in it - this is why the best sales and marketing pros give shout outs on webinars. A similar principle applies if you’re telling a story that sounds like you’re talking about one person when you’re actually talking about a group of people (your people).

T-shirts, mugs, taste tests, cocktail parties, your brand is a celebration. Design it that way! Go inside your brand (logos, color palettes and mood boards are wonderful but the real magic happens on the inside) and create a reason for people to show you off and raise their glasses in your honor.

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