Vision Over Validation: Measuring Brand Value
By JT Grauke
Instead of focusing on website traffic, increased engagement, and repeat purchases, put your customer at the forefront of your rebrand strategy. Place their identity and the improvement of their life first and your rebrand will create a lasting impact.
Rebranding a company is scary. As a leader in your organization, you’re probably asking some tough questions. Is a rebrand worth it? Will I get a return on this investment? Can we be sure that the final product is going to be right? These are all normal thoughts that should be running through your head. And the answer hinges on your need for validation.
Now, hang with me for a second, and let's look at parenting as a metaphor for branding. As a dad, I make decisions every day that affect my kids’ future. The food they eat, the clothes they wear, and the friends they play with are all experiences that shape who they will become.
Sometimes I make choices that are met with disagreement but are ultimately for their benefit. Because I love my kids, I’m willing to make them do something they don’t like, so that they can learn and grow. I’m willing to put them out of their comfort zone now, so they can be well prepared when they’re older.
Their character is more important to me than their performance. This doesn’t mean I don’t care how they perform. I do. But my goal is to pursue their hearts, so that their performance springs from a place of strong character.
Stepping back into the world of branding, there are two principles here that I want to unpack. The first has to do with having a point of view, and the second has to do with playing the long game.
But first, what even is a brand?
Let's start by defining what a brand is not, because most people misunderstand this aspect.
A brand is not your name or your logo or any of your visuals. It’s not your tagline or your value prop or the way you speak. It’s not even your product or service.
The best word I can think of to define a brand is "reputation." My “brand” as a dad lives inside my kids’ heads. The way that I act has a massive impact on them and will shape how they view me for the rest of their lives.
Your brand is your reputation.
In the same way, a brand exists outside of the company walls and in the minds of your customers. Everything from your product or service to the stories you tell, the visuals you use, and the way you act will inform and shape that brand over time. It’s the connection someone has when they interact with any part of your company.
What are they being connected to? They're being connected to the future. Brands are the vessels through which we invite the future into our lives.
A Hot Take
A lot of companies today are in the mode of reacting, as opposed to responding. Given the nature of our global economy, how quickly news spreads, social media, and the like, there’s a heightened pressure to give a hot take.
Brands that don’t stand for something eventually fall over.
By this, I mean they must have a worldview and a vision of the future that they want to make a reality. What’s wrong with the world today? What would the world look like if you accomplished your mission? Without the answers to these questions, there’s no way to provide constructive feedback on your rebrand.
This is the first principle that protects against a rebrand gone sour. Without a shared understanding of the future you’re hoping to build, you will seek to validate through other means. Someone will have a cousin who is “creative,” and he didn’t like that version of the logo. And because he didn’t like it, everyone’s now questioning whether we’ve made a huge mistake.
Most of the time, however, the problem isn’t sharing the rebrand process outside of the company. The problem starts when everyone on the team reacts to the work, based on their personal tastes, as opposed to responding to the work as measured by the goals in brand strategy.
Vision over Validation
Playing the long game is hard. It’s difficult to act on a vision as opposed to getting immediate feedback that something is working. Wouldn’t it be easier to rely on short-term strategies like user testing or focus groups to mitigate risk? With so much on the line, it’s natural to want to look for validation and quell any fear.
However, consider this: When you focus on short term metrics that measure increased engagement or interaction from customers, there’s no accountability towards an end goal for them. While having success metrics is important, they are often short-sighted and set a low bar.
I might be able to get my son to think I’m awesome by giving him junk food all the time. Dad rating would be through the roof—but, it would not be for his benefit. This isn’t to say that most companies are giving their customers the equivalent of junk food. But they could and their measurements of success wouldn’t sound any alarms.
Your focus should be on your customers’ identity. Your focus should be on who they become as a result of interacting with your brand. What is the best thing that could happen to this person?
Instead of focusing on things like website traffic, increased engagement, and repeat purchases, place their betterment at the forefront of your rebrand strategy. This approach sets the bar much higher than customer satisfaction and empowers them to charismatically champion your brand to their peers.
A Few Takeaways
Have a point of view. Develop a vision of the future and fight to make it a reality. This does two things. One, it makes it easier to make decisions about your rebrand. It acts as a ruler against which decisions can be measured. Second, it creates a space where others can join you along the way and champion for the same future.
Make your customers’ identity the measure of success. This will enable you to move beyond short-term metrics to create a lasting impact.
So, is a rebrand worth it? Will you get a return on your investment? While the answer isn’t inherently yes, if you follow these principles outlined above, you will be on your way to a successful rebrand. You will be building your reputation as a brand that builds and improves the lives of others. And when this happens, you will be able to trust that it’s right.