A Brand Health Check, Part 2

Last week, I discussed five aspects of your brand’s online presence with the objective of ensuring that you’re not on the way to committing online brand suicide. This week, I offer you five more questions for this online self-analysis. If you manage to answer yes to all the questions, your brand is well on its way to being able to sustain, and hopefully increase, its level of health.

But don’t feel too desperate if you can’t respond affirmatively to all five of these questions. Most companies are likely to fail this test, even though, as was the case last time, the questions are really very simple.

1. Match Consumer Expectations

What do your users expect from your site when they visit? Do they expect to gain more knowledge? To be able to purchase your product at a discount? To gain access to a wider range of products or certain information? To be entertained? You might know what you would expect from the site, but I would bet that your expectation is different from your audience’s. My question is two-fold: Have you investigated what your consumer actually wants from your site, and, if you have, was your site at least 75 percent on point in meeting those expectations?

2. Give Them a Reason to Return

Amazon.com expects its customers to stay with it for at least 10 years. What is your expectation of your consumer lifespan? Are you delivering enough to re-attract your visitors time after time? Are you offering enough exceptional offers? Enough news? Enough exclusive data? Enough? Yes, it’s important to attract new customers. But it’s even more important to retain them, especially since retention costs about one-tenth of acquisition. What is your customer retention rate? Is it about 80 percent? If so, you pass.

3. Surprise Customers Positively

Imagine you were able to predict everything you saw on television today, everything you read in the paper, every movie’s denouement. Would that not be boring? Now, after visiting your site once, would I be able to predict what it would offer me on my next visit? Or would I be positively surprised not only during my first visit but also on each subsequent visit? Surprising your customers in a positive way builds your brand by creating excitement and loyalty. Would you be able to surprise 50 percent of your audience every time they visit your site?

4. Keep Your Brand’s Promise — and Add a Bit More

If you promise to deliver within 48 hours, deliver within 47 hours. If you promise to accept product returns without any questions asked, return the money without asking a single question. If you promise to update your news section every day, update it every day. If you promise to answer any email inquiries within 24 hours, do it in 20 hours. Now, do you keep your promises at least 95 percent of the time?

5. Remove the Logo

In my latest book, “Clicks, Bricks & Brands,” I discuss one of Coca-Cola’s great marketing legends: its bottle. That famous bottle was designed so that no matter how many pieces it might be smashed into, each piece would be recognizable as having once been part of a Coca-Cola bottle. Keeping this principle in mind, remove all your logos from your site, remove all brand names, and then ask the consumer to visit your site and guess to which brand it belongs. If 70 percent of your visitors mention your brand, your Web site is on track. It means that you have managed to involve every communications element in your brand message, that you’ve translated every design detail, text inclusion, color scheme, and so on as meaningful contributors to your brand’s consistent message. In theory, your logo should no longer be necessary to identify the brand.

So, how did you fare with the two-part test? If you’ve been able to respond affirmatively to all 10 questions, yours is among the 5 percent of Web sites that demonstrate a clear knowledge of branding. If you fared poorly in the test, my advice is that you urgently adjust your strategy — restore your brand to health by getting your site on track. Why? Because your competitor is likely to have completed this self-examination, too.

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