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Small Business Digest


How to Discover a Brand's Truth

Branding is at best an art and at worse, a difficult task that leaves many companies with questions.

For many companies, finding the right position within the marketplace is also a time-consuming and frustrating task.

If companies want to position their brand, they need to find out where it presently sits in consumers' psyches. They need to discover their Brand's Truth.

"Knowing a Brand's Truth means discovering the "edges" of a brand--what it is and what it can never be," according to Isabelle Albanese, a nationally known brand consultant.

"While there are a handful of well-known examples of Brand Truths that have evolved, in general a Brand Truth "is what it is. The sooner companies learn it and work with it, the better their  marketing messages will become," argues Albanese.

She is the author of The 4Cs of Truth in Communications: How to Identify, Discuss, Evaluate, and Present Stand-out, Effective Communication (Paramount Market Publishing).

For readers, Albanese suggests using the exercise below which she completes in almost every project she does with clients.

It is simple and straightforward, and takes less than 15 minutes. It may be the smartest use of 15 minutes a marketing team ever spent.

Brand Truth Discovery Exercise

Question One: What is the brand, and what is it not? This tells right away what the "edges" of the brand are within the category, and the limits of consumer acceptance. It also provides a kind of roadmap for where the brand can credibly be taken. For example, when Albanese did this exercise with Dunkin' Donuts, they discovered: It is: a simply consistent, quickly delivered, high-quality cup of coffee at a reasonable
price. It is not: a pretentious, overly expensive latte that is enjoyed over a long period of time.

Question Two: What does the brand stand for, and what does it stand against in the minds of consumers? This begins to get at emotional connections, underpinnings of loyalty, and longstanding beliefs and their origins. This touches on a brand's iconic status, potential toward status, or lack thereof. Using the Dunkin' Donuts example again: It stands for: the everyday hardworking man or woman who makes this country tick. It stands against: phoniness, fluff, and being idle and self-indulgent.

Question Three: What is the brand an expert in and what does it know nothing about? This tells the true brand equity as well as inherent lack of credibility. It also begins to get at brand differentiation and elements of ownability. In the case of Dunkin' Donuts: It's an expert in: coffee and donuts. It knows nothing about: skinny soy lattes.

There are other polarities teams can create to find out more about their brand, but with these three sets of information at their fingertips, they can begin to create honest marketing messages that will connect with customers--because they reflect the Brand's Truth. When marketers develop credible messages, consumers listen.


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