The Most Important Question To Determine If Your Business Brand Is Effective In 20 Seconds… And What To Do About It If You Suck.

July 3, 2018

Quick, you have only 20 seconds…

What’s one question you can ask to confirm your brand is working for you?


Time’s up! What did you come up with?

Ready for my answer, or rather my question? 

“In 25 words or less who are you and why do you matter to the world?”

If you’re a CEO you need to be able to do this, and if you do it well everyone in the company should be able to answer quickly and with certainty too. The challenge was to ask the question in 20 seconds but you don’t have to answer in 20 seconds. You can take a minute or two. But if you find yourself thinking about this question for the first time, you probably have serious issues with your brand.

Here is an eye-opening interview that sheds more light on the topic: Tony Robbins on brand identity 

Your favourite brands

Think of the brands you love. You can probably answer this question for them.

Who is Qantas?

They’re Australia’s leading airline, and one of the top-rated airlines.

Why do they matter to the world?

They connect Australia to the world, and the world to Australia.

Now try it yourself for Bunnings, Telstra, YouTube, Coles, or whatever brands you patronise.

For more info on Australia’s top brands head here.


Start with your team

But the real test is whether your employees can answer this. If your customers and prospects can answer it.

In one recent example where this question was not answered, a publicly listed internet company expanded its business model, but didn’t explain why it mattered. Their corporate affairs department didn’t communicate clearly. They simply commissioned an ad campaign with no attempt at context and no internal comms to bring everyone onboard. They simply said, ‘Here are the new ads, what do you think?’

The ads did what a mass market advertising campaign is supposed to do­—create high awareness. But the company needed brand perception to change as well, and this they didn’t do. They didn’t understand that the task of changing customer perception required internal changes, such as getting the call centre team adequately trained.

In fact, they didn’t do any training at all. They didn’t do the foundational work that starts with the leadership, continues with staff, and extends to customers.

As a result the CEO had to resign.


Awareness and perception

The key dimensions to this are awareness and perception.

Do people know your brand? If they do, do they perceive it the way you want them to?

A lot of brand communication is done through people, so it’s a strong foundation if you have this right, and if you don’t it’s a missed opportunity. This doesn’t have to be tricky or sophisticated but comes back to bare basics. If you don’t get the basics right you’re not really leveraging it.

You’ve got to employ your people consistently and assertively. The alternative is an ad-hoc way that, over time will dilute your brand, and it won’t matter how much you are investing in social media or billboards.

You’re paying your employees. You might as well get them working the brand.

Leaders often say to me their brand’s not working, so they need to redo their website. But in most cases that’s not what they need, at least not straight-away.

What they need is to make sure that they and everyone in their company, including the CEO and board (if there is one) can answer the questions:

Who are you?

Why do you matter to the world?

If you can’t answer these questions succinctly, don’t throw good money away with an expensive ad campaign or website update.

Instead, start by answering why you come to work in the morning. Talk to your team. Lay a foundation of awareness and perception, and know that branding is an inside-out job so communicate to your team and watch the ripple effect take place.

Picture of Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor

MD & Head of Strategy and Research

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