Happy New Year, everyone!  Naturally, my first post of 2018 is a goals post, but I’ll be covering something that too few people discuss.  How to set goals for, and assess the effectiveness of, your brand.

As a graphic designer, I know exactly how hard it can be to set concrete goals for something as intangible as your brand. After all, ask 100 different people what branding is and you’ll have 100 different answers. Well… maybe 95 different answers and 5 people will say “your logo.” But we do all want an effective brand, don’t we?

So What IS Your Brand?

Here’s my quick and dirty summary: a brand starts with its target audience. You think about who you want to appeal to, what they need, and what they like. Then you think about what differentiates you from the competition. What special personality quirks can you bring to your brand? Only then, after deciding how you want your business/organization to “feel” to your target market, do you start talking color swatches and fonts.

After doing all this brainstorming and researching, your brand should consist of:

  • Logo
  • Consistent style elements (fonts/colors/graphics)
  • Grammar/vocabulary (what types of words will you use?)
  • Content you provide to your audience (what will you communicate with/to them?)
  • Preferred mediums (video/blogging/tweets/photos)

Click here for a more comprehensive description of branding.

Now, these things aren’t set in stone. You can try things, rework your brand, even start from scratch! But you do need to build some kind of recognizable identity if you want to evoke a response from your target audience.

Moving on.

How to Measure Your Brand’s Effectiveness

I’ll be really, really honest. I struggled with this for the better part of a year before I figured this out. A logo isn’t really supposed to DO anything, right? I just design it, it’s beautiful, everyone loves you, and you get bajillions of clients. Done.

So let’s take a step back. Why do we want a brand in the first place? I know, I know, I just said “if you want to evoke a response from your target audience” but let’s break that into more manageable chunks.

A brand should:

  • Be recognizable
  • Appeal to its target audience
  • Communicate what you do
  • Add credibility

Brand Effectiveness Metric #1: User Testing

So your first step might be to do some user testing. There are tons of sites that do user testing for websites and interactive materials. For branding… not so much.

So for this you’ll need to connect with your audience. Either you’ve got a good-sized following on social media and you can post logo design options, poll to see what people are interested in hearing about, their favorite formats for your content and so on. If you don’t yet have a collection of followers, then you’ll need to figure out where they hang out and ask those already-established groups the same questions.

The goal part is trickier, since the S.M.A.R.T. goal format doesn’t necessarily work here. But you can focus on the things your brand is supposed to accomplish. For a logo, I’d ask your audience:

  • What do you think this brand is about?
  • Would you be interested in buying from or learning more about this brand?

Brand Effectiveness Metric #2: Client Surveys

Naturally, the people who know you the best are the people you’ve worked with already! Create a survey to get feedback from previous clients or to give clients at the end of each project. Figure out which pieces of information are most key for you to know and keep the survey short.

Side note: it can be extremely difficult to get responses from past clients. Many businesses use some form of incentive – giveaways or discounts on future projects – to get clients to fill these out. I haven’t figured out a great strategy for myself just yet, but I’ll let you know when I do!

Again, with a logo or initial branding, statistics might not be the best goals to set. However, focusing on how your clients felt about your brand before and after is very informative! Questions to ask:

  • Were your expectations for our organization met?
  • If the experience differed from what you expected based on our brand, how did it differ?

Consistency or Setting Your Brand Up for Success

Certain things are near impossible to measure. Is your brand recognizable across all mediums? You could technically ask your audience, but if you’re asking, then they already know to look for your brand. What you really want to know is whether they recognize your brand when they run across your content somewhere else on the Internet or in person. Nationwide brands with huge marketing budgets can check to see how many people are searching for their brands, but local brands are unlikely to be receiving that kind of following.

In this case, the next best thing to getting verification from your audience is to follow a few guidelines on your own to ensure consistency.

  • Use the same avatar/profile picture on all social media sites. It could be your logo, or it could be a headshot. But it needs to be exactly the same.
  • Design one cover photo and then adapt it to each social media sizing guidelines. Whatever your primary goal or message is, you want to share that everywhere, including on the home page of your site.
  • Voice – you might adapt this a little bit per social network. I definitely get a little more informal on Instagram and Twitter than I do on LinkedIn, BUT the truth is that people are people, regardless of what social network you’re connecting on. If you’ve defined your target market, then you know who you’re talking to, so you don’t want to talk to them in 5 different voices.
  • Branding guide – have one, reference it every time you design graphics for your organization. Use the same fonts, the same colors, and the same type of graphics. It can feel boring (I know! I struggle with it, too.) but it provides a cohesive, unified experience for your audience. You never want to confuse them. Ever.

Do you set goals for your branding or marketing? What metrics do you use?