You may not know what a “Brand Triangle™” is, but I guarantee you already have one. The Brand Triangle™ – a model I created – is an approach for how to think about your brand, whether you’re focused on growing a brand for a company, a product, or a service, or whether you’re building your own individual personal brand. While it may not sound quite as exciting as a “romantic triangle,” if you don’t get your Brand Triangle™ right, your brand may very well end up in the Bermuda Triangle – disappearing into thin air, never to be heard from again.
What is a “Brand Triangle™” Anyway?
The Brand Triangle™ is a simple but effective way of finding out how well your brand is doing from three different angles (every pun intended). As the visual here demonstrates, it compares (a) the brand you believe you have now, with (b) the brand you want (your desired brand), with (c) your brand as others see it. If a corporate or personal brand is a great success, you can bet that all three points of its triangle are exactly the same.
Why is that important? Because unless you’re absolutely certain about your brand’s current and ongoing health, you won’t be able to reap the benefits of building a strong brand. In fact, you could be coming down with a bad case of “brand denial.”
Are You Floating Down the River of ‘Brand Denial?’
I’ve worked with many companies and individuals over the years, helping them to build their brands, and I’ve run across many who were under the mistaken impression that their brand was just fine or at least doing better than it actually was. This is what I call “brand denial,” a syndrome that can keep your brand from growing or even surviving. If you think you may have brand denial, don’t feel bad – it’s a bit like the common cold; almost everybody comes down with it at some point.
But brand denial needs quick medicine, and the Brand Triangle is one of the best diagnostic tools to help. Luckily, there are some easy, quick – and inexpensive – ways to find out exactly how your brand is doing.
Company Brand Strategies
If you’re building on a company, product, or service brand:
- Do an inexpensive online survey, asking your customers pointed questions about what they think of your brand. (See the “Five Words Exercise” below – it works for companies, too!) Online survey services like SurveyMonkey.com make it easy, low-cost, and even fun – you can watch the tallies come in one at a time!
- Conduct low-cost, in-person focus groups with key clients to find out what you’re doing well and what could be improved. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Just get a small group of your most trusted customers together, and take them out for lunch or dinner with the express intention of talking about their impressions – the good, the bad, and the ugly of your brand.
- Make sure your customers/clients have easy ways to complain. This doesn’t cost a thing, and it will tell you very quickly – and no holds barred – which aspects of your brand you need to improve.
Interested in more low-cost ideas to get clear on the health of your brand? Check out Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank.
Personal Brand Strategies
If you’re working on clarifying your personal brand:
Try the “Five Words Exercise.” Here’s how it works: Choose someone you trust as your “Brand Investigator.” Give that person the names of 5 to 10 people – direct reports, peers, your boss, or friends. Ask your Brand Investigator to contact these people individually and pose the following question: “When you think of _______ [insert your name], what are the first five words that come to mind?”
The responders should be asked to give the first five words they think of – a “gut” response without overthinking it. Make sure they know their responses will stay confidential; you won’t be told who said what.
Ask the Brand Investigator to write down the exact words that are said and, then, mix them up. How consistent are the responses? Do you see any trends?
– If the same words continue to show up, this is a good indication that you’re very consistent in how you act, react, look, sound, and think – e.g., the way you communicate your individual brand.
– If the words are all over the map, ask yourself: How am I acting differently with those various groups of people?
Remember: The secret to successful branding – whether for a company or an individual – is consistency. What can you do to become more consistent in how you’re perceived?
Once you uncover the points on your Brand Triangle™ that are mismatched, you can begin to make changes so that all three aspects of your brand are the same. That’s how you build a powerful brand.