What is your brand strategy and where does the equity lie for your customers is often the starting point for our events, even if the clients don't fully realise it.

On the one hand, it seems like a really obvious question but when you drill down a bit, it turns out that most of us think it's only important to other companies. Everyone knows who their business is and what it stands for don't they? Don't they?

The fact is that neither the world nor your marketplace stands still, which means the smart money is constantly evolving & adapting to change. But if that's true, how do you develop a brand without also creating the Emperor's New Clothes? i.e. a Fiction without substance.

The bottom line is that the obligation to be clear about what you and your business stands for is yours. If you haven't the will and the commitment to making it clear what you're about, why should your customers make time to find out for themselves?

Fundamentally, it starts with you understanding the basics of branding, whether you are a multi-national, SME a B2B or a one person band. IBM may run slightly different adverts in Dubai to the ones that play in downtown Dallas but be absolutely sure, they have a single strategy when it comes to their brand. Likewise all other smart brands. The problem is, when your business is small and you are already running just to stand still, how do you find time to develop your own brand? Perhaps the more important question is; can you afford not to find time to understand & develop your brand?

A few years ago, a Stewardess accidentally spilled boiling hot coffee on me during a Virgin Airways flight from the Caribbean (ok, only slightly name-dropping here) and whilst the crew's response at the time was lovely, the corporate response afterwards initially totally contradicted my view of their Brand values. They came good in the end but because I love the Brand, I wasn't sure what hurt more; the burnt leg or the lost sense of who I thought they were. All of which begs the question of what would happen in your organisation in similar circumstances and what would it do to your carefully crafted Brand image if people were writing about it on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter?

A simple way of finding out what values your Brand has is to ask a bunch of your customers to sum up who they think you are - or what you offer - in just 3 words. What would they say? And would you recognise it as an accurate or desirable description? Is it what you'd like them to have said? If those two things are not one and the same, maybe its time you had a look at your brand and made some changes.