Healthy brands need a balanced diet

Building a healthy brand isn’t about chasing trends or joining in on the current craze. Healthy brands can’t cleanse their way to top-of-mind awareness. There’s no crash diet for building a customer pipeline, and no superfood that promises a higher conversion rate. The only regimen that guarantees long-term brand health is a balanced diet and regular exercise. Here are three steps you can take to ensure that your brand gets fit and stays healthy.

Curb the sugar addiction.

We all love sweets. However, consider this: If you’re measuring success only in the form of likes, shares, and #noms, then you’re just giving the people what they want. It’s like brand candy. But what’s that doing for the long-term health of the brand?

Make sure your sugary content is balanced with wholesome nutrition. Inspirational quotes and National Pizza Day posts are great, but you should pair them with a few servings of company culture, innovative practices, staff profiles, or product features. Remember: Passive metrics aren’t the truest indicators of nutritious content. (More on that here.

Exercise regularly.

For so many organizations, their core message gets lost amid all the important things that need to be said. But when you hit the gym, how many machines do you actually use?

Your marketing activity is like exercise. Is it working toward the best version of your brand? Is it focused in a way that highlights the right parts, and in the right order? Your brand will be at peak performance when it has definition, flexibility, rest at the right times, and a clear goal.

So many times, it’s a matter of focusing the workout. When is the last time you took a step back and evaluated every activity your brand participates in? Are all the pieces working together in a smart way to tell the same story? Are there pieces that need some new thinking or that should be cut from the routine? (Are you still using the equivalent of “8-Minute Buns” on VHS?) Those one-off postcards and Facebook posts are like extra reps on a machine that doesn’t work. They only fatigue your brand.

Know what you’re shopping for.

Let’s say, on Sunday you plan for a week of wholesome, nutritious dinners. That’s your big idea. Now you can hit the market with a list of ingredients. Those are your messages, personality traits, and creative assets that all support the big idea.

With all the ingredients now in your kitchen, Thursday night dinner prep becomes much more efficient because you know exactly what to do — you’ve already made the tough decisions. Now, you can focus on the little details, like deciding between a velvety red wine or a crisp white.

With a clearly defined brand strategy, marketing decisions become easier, more efficient, and more effective. In our experience in higher education, the three things universities market toward —enrollment, advancement, and reputation — vie for institutional attention. It’s like deciding between cross-fit, running, and yoga. All three are crucial for your institution’s health, but only one can take the lead at any given time. Knowing which your brand is focused on will significantly impact your marketing strategy and the way the brand story is shared.

 

This article originally appeared on AMA’s Marketing Blog.