How relatable is your brand? Answer these three questions.

Brands are established and evolve for a variety of reasons. Some logical, others not. It’s imperative to step back regularly and evaluate whether your brand is relatable. Is it connecting with the people it targets? Is it connecting the way you want it to? Ultimately, do your constituents relate to the brand enough to take ownership of it? If the answers to these questions is yes, keep going. Reinforce and try to anticipate needs by assessing and involving customers. If the honest answer is not a 100% yes to any of these questions, there’s work to be done. And that’s okay.

Is your brand connecting with the people it targets?

It can’t be presumed. Even if you’ve done an excellent job in focusing outreach, that doesn’t assure adoption. You might be in the right pond, but that doesn’t mean you’re attracting the fish. It comes down to being relevant. Are you telling your audience what you want them to hear, or are you communicating information that they are looking to know? In the cases where education is necessary, it’s important to hook the audience with a relatable starting point. Why should they care? Why, out of all the messages they are bombarded with every day, should they pay attention to your brand? This is also where credibility is critical. Not only do you need to be able to fulfill what you are promising, but messaging to get the audience to the point of taking action must be believable. Sometimes this can be augmented with peer-to-peer testimonial content where brand champions support the argument for the brand and demonstrate how it fulfills a real need. Sometimes this can be amplified by photography of real people who support the brand. The goal is to match compelling messaging with visuals that your audience can relate to and/or wants to emulate. Meaningful conceptual execution, accurate targeting and efficient outreach are all important too, but if the message doesn’t matter, it’s challenging if not impossible for the brand to matter.

Is your brand connecting the way you want it to?

Assume nothing. Internally, you can have the most devoted brand champions with the very best intentions, but the only way to understand how your brand is resonating with its intended audience is through research. Sure, sales numbers can serve as a helpful barometer of whether some degree of success is happening, but those figures are limited. They don’t necessarily shed light on what is motivating the purchase or adoption. Nor do sales numbers capture what messages are really connecting and why, or whether there are other influences in the market that could have an impact on your brand. Research does not have to always be quantitative. Qualitative research can be extremely valuable in assessing the brand on an annual basis. Other means of connecting could include advisory boards where you really have an opportunity to solidify relationships and learn firsthand from constituents. Act on what you learn. Use the insights to strengthen what’s working and understand what is not. You have to be able to evaluate in order to effectively evolve.

Do your constituents relate to your brand enough to take ownership of it?

The measure of true brand success is when your constituents take ownership of the brand. Sometimes brands go viral with adoption because they answer a market or societal need. Sometimes brands represent significant jumps forward in technology or the way we work or live our lives. When this happens, it’s not simply because of scientific advancement. It’s, in part, because the brands were made to matter. For branding to be effective, it must be deliberate. It must meet real needs of constituents. And moreover, it must be relevant so people will care about it enough to take notice and then take action.

Healthcare brands, whether they’re corporate, technology, product or service, almost always have multiple audiences. Internally and externally. All with different perspectives. All approaching the brand from a context that is unique to them. No brand can be all things to all people. But you can make your brand relevant. Identify what makes your brand truly unique and why this matters. Establish a single position for your brand that’s based on external need, what you can fulfill and the competitive landscape. And then cultivate audience-specific messaging that supports the overall brand position. Don’t enable audiences to be dismissive of your brand. Don’t just capture their attention—capture their interest. Only when you have made your brand relevant, will it be truly relatable.

by Jonathan D. Katz