What are your new year resolutions for your brand?

A new year represents the chance for a fresh beginning. A time when you can take stock of your brand and commit to ways of making it stronger, more compelling and relevant. These objectives should always be at the forefront, but too often day-to-day demands, politics and even complacency can squelch initiative. As you enter the New Year, challenge yourself and your brand to achieve specific objectives. The goals you set can be quantitative, qualitative or both – what matters is that they are relevant benchmarks. Here are five resolutions to consider.

Reinforce the foundation

Take an objective retrospective look at the brand. Have you stayed on message? Has the brand been communicated in a consistent manner? Is the brand resonating with your primary audiences? Have you expanded your base of internal and external brand champions? You know what’s at the heart of your brand – what makes it different and why it matters. Remember to reinforce the core differentiator and supportive attributes. Remember to hold how you bring the brand to life against your brand promise. Brands weaken when they are diluted and lose their focus. This is why it is vital to double down on the established brand foundation – it ultimately must support the weight of its reason to be.

Be open-minded

Nothing is stagnant. Industry is in a constant state of flux, technology offers new means of communicating, your customers are bombarded by an ever-increasing number of messages and your brand’s voice must be heard through tremendous market commotion. Although it is paramount to make sure your brand foundation is in tact, it is equally important to be open-minded to taking advantage, or even better, leading change. How can you most effectively communicate the brand in light of current market dynamics, competition and potentially shifting customer mindsets? Don’t break the mold just for the sake of breaking the mold. Instead, identify new and proven ways of communicating the brand and fostering a positive brand experience.

Don’t make assumptions

Involve your customers. Learn from their expectations, experience and insights. From advisory boards to formal market research, there are myriad ways to obtain input and feedback (both of these are important to seek). Interacting with customers provides an opportunity to build or reinforce relationships. It enables you to hear, firsthand, positive and negative perspectives. And it provides a necessary reality check that can be instrumental in keeping your brand on course.

Value qualitative findings

Great brands are built over time, not overnight. Many times qualitative data is pushed aside as less meaningful than quantitative findings. As you shape and reinforce the brand, however, qualitative feedback can reveal valuable customer insights. It can shed light on trends to follow, provide early indictors of success or warnings of missteps, and gauge progress in raising awareness or influencing perspectives.

Really commit

It sounds obvious, but making a commitment to your customers through the brand is everything. You are setting expectations, and so much of your brand’s success or failure depends on follow-through. Remember your brand encompasses all touch points – presale, interaction with the company/product/service, available support, ongoing customer relationship building. It’s the whole package that matters, and every step along your customer’s journey with the brand represents the chance to earn and solidify loyalty. This takes time, budget and an ongoing commitment. It’s not a question of taking on everything at once, but doing the very best as you continually support your customers. Better to do fewer things well, than more things that might check the boxes, but are not really as robust as they should be. Be realistic about setting expectations, place yourself in your customers’ shoes and be sure that you always follow-through.

Approach the New Year with enthusiasm. Embrace it as an opportunity to reiterate what makes your brand matter, reinforce positive brand experiences, reinvigorate relationships, reexamine means of communicating and ultimately reaffirm your brand in the minds of your customers.

by Jonathan D. Katz