Every once in a while a company needs to take a close, critical look at itself. Brand managers invest countless hours in developing an honest image to represent their product or company. Stamping the brand all over company correspondence and product launches at this stage, however, is an indicator of mediocrity. A good manager will take a moment to test their work before releasing it.

Pull yourself back from your work – or find someone completely unaffiliated with it. Take a walk in your customers’ shoes and look at not just the brand, but the product or business it represents. Do they fit, or is there inconsistency between the brand image you want to convey and the one the customer actually sees? If you work every day in a suit and tie but represent an edgy athletic brand, then you have a serious problem.

Customers value honesty. If your brand fails to honestly represent your product or business, then you might consider changing one of two things:

  1. New company, new brand – If both your business and product are brand new, then chances are your corporate culture is still in a state of flux. Focus on making the business fit the brand you want to achieve. If your brand is a clean-cut professional computer software label for Fortune 100 companies, then you should probably toss the Birkenstocks and t-shirts for more conservative attire. Conduct business in the office as if you were in a meeting with your clients.
  2. Old company, new brand – After corporate culture is established, it is next to impossible to change. If you brand is at all inconsistent with the way you have done business in the past you either need to design a new brand or find a way to separate it into a new business model. Look at recent Apple commercials and the difference between “Mac” and “PC.” Both images fit their respective corporate culture – no one would take “PC” seriously if he tried to sell an iPod.

You have spent a lot of money, time, energy, and emotion creating your brand. Take a minute to guarantee you are still heading in the right direction before losing more by investing in a faulty messenger. There will always be something you can salvage if you need to start over – don’t ever consider your branding work to be a failure. At the same time, don’t make the mistake of being so devoted to your idea that it stalls before even leaving the boardroom.

Looking in the mirror is something marketers need to do over and over again to ensure they stay on target. How often do you take time to evaluate your work from the outside?