10 questions to ask yourself to determine whether a brand makeover or change is in your near future.

Before we dive into the “do you need a brand makeover” checklist, let’s all get on the same page with what the brand is and the brand means today.

The definition of a brand has exploded from a very simple concept to an extremely complex and critical part of economies and life. The brand is no longer limited to the mark, tagline or latest marketing campaign. The brand is the spirit, soul, purpose and promise of any entity. Operational or buried on the History Channel®, the brand is, as I called it in my first book, metaphorically a brain tattoo—a mental impression that the buyer allows into their head. The brand is the sum of tangible and intangible assets and liabilities, every touch point, every experience and every memory. It is what the markets, stakeholders, influencers and consumers think and feel, and what they expect when they choose one (brand) offering over another.

By now, most business leaders figured out the basic brand game. We were on our merry way, marketing, advertising, promoting and publicizing and then came the most monumental change to life and business as we all knew it. The Internet entered the planet. Brands and branding morphed from being a pure premium identity choice to an any-price-point offering with a story and a promise. We could now conduct business, building our brand messaging 24/7 and with no limits on geographical boundaries. For many, the Internet represented endless opportunities and reach, efficiencies, low production costs and a new sense of control for their brands. That didn’t last too long.

Then, technology got cheaper; Web engagement and functionality spawned like weeds and open source applications became the new oxygen, welcoming Web 2.0. The branding platform expanded too. We were no longer just buying our way into consumers’ worlds, pushing strategically crafted messages on them with hard selling tactics. We were instead having two-way conversations, listening, helping and educating. A new marketing mindset moved in. Brands everywhere went beyond brick-and-mortar, offline business environments to now earning new relationships and stronger brand loyalty thanks to the new army of digital branding tools at their and the market’s fingertips.

And what a difference five years makes. As the Internet continued to power economies and businesses, a new dimension of activity and media sprouted. It is called social media. Pioneered by companies like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook, user-generated content fueled this technology-driven, but century-old behavior better known as socializing. Blogs, wikis, micro blogging and podcasts are just a few options in the buffet of communication choices and tools. At the start, many skeptics were convinced this was purely a social pastime; a not for business movement and was a trend isolated for teenagers and techno-geeks. Today businesses, governments, religious groups and even grandmothers are active participants in social media. So did branding get a new friend, or is it a loose-cannon foe? It’s all in how you navigate the ever-changing terrain, manage the utilities and stay with or ahead of technology.

If a modern-day brand is the sum of an entity’s actions, a collection of emotions, attributes and delivered promises, then social media seems like a surefire way to provide businesses and organizations with many more branches to grow their brands. That could work in the perfect fantasy, a great dream or candy-land novel, but in our world, it’s not so easy.

And that puts new light on the the question of does your brand need a facelift, makeover or radial change?

My list starts here. I’d love to learn about your thoughts too concerning the question, is it time for change?

If you answer YES to more than 5 of these questions, I’d say its time.

  1. Does your brand (the look, feel, language, mental image) represent and reflect your current customer base or does it appeal to a dying base of used-to-be buyers?
  2. Has your core business model changed and does your brand reflect what it was?
  3. Does your brand blend into the landscape of competitors (a sea of sameness) and if you covered your logo, could your business be mistaken for anyone else?
  4. Do the graphic elements of your brand’s identity look dated, like a light blue leisure suit?
  5. Do your brand touch-points tell a story? And is the story compelling and distinct?
  6. Is your brand just plain, unexciting, boring and unremarkable?
  7. Is there a disconnect? Does your messaging imply one thing, but you are someone completely different?
  8. Do your brand identity and graphics work well in the digital communications world?
  9. Is your brand memorable?
  10. Do your current brand identity and story have legs to travel in a multitude of touch-points?

Brand makeovers can be scary and expensive. Often change will not be accepted by everyone including your employees and some customers.  And there is cost related to the execution of a new brand. But, there is is a lot of upside too. Leadership needs to look forward and understand that the brand is who you are, your voice and connection to the market. A new brand can be momentous and newsworthy. It can also send a strong message to the market that your company is progressive, innovative and relevant. Even the biggest companies like Xerox®, UPS® and WalMart® have had brand makeovers.

If it looks like it might be time for a brand change or makeover for your organization, Oddpodz, my community of creative-minded entrepreneurs, and my team of branding professionals at Brain Tattoo Branding are launching a very cool Win a Brand Makeover contest.

The lucky company or individual will be awarded over $10,000 work of branding services. And every applicant will get a gift just for registering. We hope to make this an annual contest. Contest details just went up. In a few days we will have a voting tool by each post as the winning company scores extra for popularity along with 6 other criteria.

Please help spread the word. We will be chronicling the brand makeover throughout the process too.