Why an outsider’s eye on your brand matters, and how you can use it.

We are often talking to our clients about the importance of getting a range of opinions throughout their business when we are working with them. Building a strong internal steering group on larger projects can be a great way to make sure that any changes implemented work across the company. However, what we also find is that listening to people’s opinions from outside of your company can be equally as valuable. I interviewed our strategy director Michelle to find out why she thinks this is.

So I think it would be best to start with the basics, what would you say we mean by an ‘outsider’s’ perspective? Who are we talking about, whose voices should we be considering?

You should consider not just your internal stakeholders but your external stakeholders – I’m talking about your customers, clients, suppliers and any investors or board members. As much of your wider community as possible.

 

What do you think the issue is with not considering these people’s perspectives on your brand or business?

These people experience your brand; they have a great insight into the level of your customer service, marketing, products and/or service you provide. The danger is that you make essential brand or business decisions based on assumptions rather than finding out from the people experiencing your brand. These can lead to not identifying your blind spots or areas of weakness within the business, that could be improved on to ultimately provide a better brand experience.

 

…and following on from that, can you go into what value lies in getting an outsider’s perspective?

It provides you with a holistic view of your business and allows you to identify areas for improvement and areas that are working well. It also lets you learn about your customers’ motivations and behaviours to make them loyal. As well as identify what is important to them in their life so that you can tap into valuable trends driving your customers.

 

Have there been moments in your own journey as a business owner where an outsider’s perspective opened up new opportunities for you?

Yes, definitely, I’ve always found asking our clients regularly for general feedback on the overall service (as well as project-based) has provided invaluable feedback. It has enabled us to identify areas of weakness; for example, as we grew, we didn’t initially inform all of our clients about the new services we could offer. This led to building out marketing specifically targeted at our existing clients. I’ve also found having a business coach incredibly useful, as they look at the business from a step back and don’t have an emotional connection. This has been helpful in getting another perspective and a person to bounce ideas off.

 

How do you think this idea of gaining outside perspective relates more specifically to brand strategy?

When changing your strategy, you want to bring everyone along the journey with you so that when your brand does change, they feel on board with the change. It also plays into building out target audience personas that are based on qualitative data rather than assumptions, all helping to build a more robust and targeted brand.

 

What are the most effective ways for getting an outsider’s perspective? Is there anything to watch out for?

A mix of surveys, 1-1 interviews, and focus groups can provide an excellent data source. I would watch out for doing just surveys as this doesn’t allow you to dig deeper into their answers. You want to find out their motivations and rationale for providing the answer. Ensure to include a diverse group, not just existing customers who know your brand. Look for people who haven’t experienced your brand before.

 

Are there particular times in a brand’s development that you think it would be important to purposefully look for these outsider opinions?

Based on your findings at the kick-off stage, as part of an immersion stage, you may need to adjust the project brief. Another potential point throughout the project would be after the design has been developed; this gives you a chance to gain customer feedback and make tweaks where needed. It is crucial to develop a change management plan for any large project like a rebrand, change in strategy or new website. This way you can ensure you are clear on the stakeholders at the start and how you will manage the process and the launch.

 

Flipping this around, what do you think makes for good constructive feedback and insights?

I often find that explaining your reason behind the feedback and how you reached that decision is really important.

 

Do you have any closing words of wisdom to share on the importance of an outsider opinion?

The more you can do face-to-face interviews or focus groups to discuss the feedback, the better; this is a valuable opportunity to dig into their reasons and understand their main drivers. For involving investors and board members, running workshops can be a great way to tease out challenges and define what is important to them.

 

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