Since branding is an emotional subject, it gets hard to manage. Specifically, it gets hard to measure. Cue Marty Neumeier (again). In his book The Brand Flip he lays out a structure for measuring the effectiveness of building a brand in what has been called the Brand Ladder. The goal of the Brand Ladder is to see how well you are elevating a customer's experience with your company. If you score low, it means you're a commodity, easily capable of being replaced. If you score high, customers are likely to become repeat buyers, evangelists, and feel like they can't live without you.
Here is an outline of the scorecard (from your customer's point of view):
Satisfied Grade 1-5
__ The company/product has met my expectations.
__ The company charges a fair price for the product.
__ TOTAL (highest score of 10)
Delighted Grade 1-5 and multiply by 2
__ I've been pleasantly surprised by the company/product.
__ I would happily recommend it to others.
__ TOTAL x 2 (highest score of 20)
Engaged Grade 1-5 and multiply by 3
__ I identify well with the other customers of this company/product.
__ I would go out of my way for the company and its customers.
__ TOTAL x 3 (highest score of 30)
Empowered Grade 1-5 and multiply by 4
__ The company/product is essential to my life.
__ I would be very sorry if it went out of business.
__ TOTAL x 4 (highest score of 40)
__ Grand Total (Highest Score of 100)
But it doesn't end there. Like any other assessment, you have to dive deeper and unearth the reasons behind them. What is it about your company that affects these scores? Is it design? Is it your messaging? Is it the product? You can measure the effects of branding all day, but if you are not willing to check on the factors contributing to its success, you might as well not even bother. Sounds like something I should write about tomorrow...
An email from Jonathan Stark came through my inbox today and brought up a good analogy. One worth sharing with all of you on this lovely Friday.
The gist of it is as follows:
When you buy a sandwich, the person making the sandwich doesn't say, "this might cost $5, we won't know until we're done making it."
What's the difference between that and saying a logo and a website might cost $20,000, but we won't know until we're done?
Geez, that sounds like a pain in the ass and disconcerting for the client on the other side of the transaction. This is the trap that hourly billing gets people in, both clients and service providers, a journey through the fog of unknowns that is costly and annoying.
The alternative? Diagnose for a set price (roughly 10% of the anticipated budget) and come up with three, tiered options at set prices. This might not be the best solution, but it's better than keeping a running clock and an hourly rate that never seems to stay under budget. At least a set price is predictable for both the client and the designer.
Why don't I bill hourly? Because I don't like leaving clients in a state of uncertainty.
Creative minds, though responsible for new ideas and solving big problems, have a huge shadow: the inability to give those new ideas time. This is especially true in branding. It's almost inevitable that after going through a new brand identity, strategy, etc, the desire to change will pop up. A new idea will strike and it must manifest or it will go away.
But int he context of branding, assuming you do a good job, you have to resist. Branding is something that should remain consistent and be given its due before making massive overhauls.
Commons areas where this desire arises:
Look, these things might need to change, but if you have to let them settle before you can make an informed decision as to whether or not they need to change. This doesn't mean you can't change small things, like experimenting with new ads, altering your layouts, running A/B tests, but it should all cohere to the strategy you are trying to implement.
Point being: resist your creative impulses to start something new before your previous task has been finished and given time to rest.