Monday, September 28, 2015

Have You Conducted A Brand Audit Lately?

While you may hope that your customers embrace your brand, the truth is, most consumers make purchases without even thinking about your brand. Of course, everyone recognizes the famous brand names, such as, Coca-Cola, Nike, Amazon, etc., but they aren’t your corner five and dime. They aren’t even most midsize businesses. So what can YOU do? You, as the business leader, marketing team, and yes, even the human resources team, must conduct a brand audit on a regular basis.

A brand audit “describes and evaluates the current state of a brand and its effectiveness in achieving a company’s business objectives. This assessment is the first step in brand strategy development and is used as a diagnostic tool for determining where the brand strengths lie and for identifying its potential vulnerabilities or shortcomings. It is the foundation on which the other steps depend,” as defined by Brandamplitude.

Here are my "Top 10" questions to include in your brand audit:

[1] Does your brand currently have a brand promise? If yes, what is it?
[2] What differentiates your product or service from the competition?
[3] How do you offer superior value to your customers?
[4] What words, phrases, or feelings come to mind when you think of your brand?
[5] Who are your brand’s current and future customers?
[6] What is the brand’s positioning statement?
[7] Where does the company fit among the competition?
[8] How is the brand perceived among the competition?
[9] How is the company perceived by employees?
[10] How would you like to see the company perceived?

There are many benefits from conducting a brand audit:

[1] Creating a consistent marketing message across all media.
[2] Strengthening your brand’s positioning vs. the competition.
[3] Improving the communication vehicles between customers and your brand.
[4] Clarifying the core attributes of the brand.
[5] Refocusing internal brand advocates (remember, all employees are brand ambassadors).

Above all, a brand audit allows you to evaluate your marketing strategy. Is it working? Does it need to be refined? Does everyone from the CEO on down to the marketing, public relations, website, IT, finance, and HR teams understand the nuances and key strengths of your brand?

Memorize these two timeless quotes as you re-energize your brand marketing efforts. “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” from customer engagement expert Vala Afshar. And “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind,” from advertising guru Walter Landor.

Don't you think it’s time to learn exactly what customers are thinking about your brand?

Image Credit: Stuart Miles via

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Floating Art Exhibit Awakens Interest in Philanthropy and Restores Brand Awareness to a Los Angeles Park

Near Downtown Los Angeles, there’s a park called MacArthur Park with an eight-acre lake. Built in the 1880’s, the park became a vacation destination surrounded by luxury hotels. In the early part of the 20th century, the MacArthur park area became known as the Champs-Élysées of Los Angeles. While not as large as one of Michigan’s Great Lakes, MacArthur Park’s lake recently became famous due to a unique floating art exhibit.

An estimated 2,500 vinyl colorful spheres were hand-painted by roughly 10,000 volunteers around the Los Angeles area and placed in the lake at MacArthur Park. Each inflatable sphere was hand-painted in floral or aquatic designs, and measured between four and six feet in diameter.

This unique art exhibition was orchestrated by the Los Angeles-based arts nonprofit Portraits of Hope, known for conceiving and developing one-of-a-kind motivational art projects. Portraits of Hope projects have transformed airplanes, buildings, and the New York City taxi fleet to blimps, tugboats, and NASCAR race cars. More than 800 hospitals, schools, after-school programs, and social service agencies have participated in Portraits of Hope projects and programmatic activities in addition to an array of adult community groups.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti attended the exhibit’s opening ceremony and remarked, “This project involves everything that’s good about Los Angeles…Great weather, open space, creativity, and social conscience.”

The founders of Portraits of Hope are brothers who were raised near MacArthur Park. One explained that the park was once a destination with its lake and paddle boats. The two brothers, Ed and Bernie Massey, wanted to revitalize the park and recreate its “Wow” factor. The “Spheres of MacArthur Park” will be on display for four weeks, and then, the spheres will be donated to local schools and hospitals.

The larger-than-life, multi-colored spheres were produced by volunteers from around Los Angeles – many of them schoolchildren and youth from the Braille Institute, Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, and the Shriners Hospital for Children, among others. In addition, a variety of businesses supplied all materials and transportation free of charge. Portraits of Hope co-founder Bernie Massey explained that the cost of the project would have been around $1.5 million if the community had not mobilized together.

There is no doubt that the art exhibit is colorful, memorable, and unique, but the most important take-away is that “through [children’s] participation, the youngsters learn about important social and community issues, the power of teamwork, and their ability to achieve.”

As a Los Angeles native, thanks to everyone who contributed to this amazing project because it truly gave MacArthur Park the Wow Factor and restored some much-needed brand awareness to MacArthur Park!

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Originally Posted on Nonprofit Quarterly. Reprinted with Permission.