Marketing + Communications

Brand benchmarking – what colleagues and clients can’t say to your face

When you’re running a successful business, it’s easy to think you’re great. While that’s most likely true, it’s important to check that your perception is the reality.

Benchmarking. Market research. Client feedback. Whatever you call it, it’s the only way to find out what your clients really think, to understand how you stack up next to the competition, and how your employees feel about being part of your team.

But how do you go about it successfully, ensuring you get a true reflection of your strengths and flaws? In this short blog, we’re going to give you the low down on how to sniff out the problems in your business so you can go about fixing them.

Get someone else to ask the questions

Let’s create an imaginary family member and call her Aunt Ethel. Now, Ethel is a lovely old aunt who makes a belting cup of tea and always sent you off with some pocket money when you came to visit. One day Ethel comes back from the hairdressers with a new do… and it’s a real mess. She presents herself to you and asks with a grin, “What do you think?”

Now if you’re a heartless blighter you might give her the naked truth about her new hairdo come bird’s nest. Let’s be honest, this is what she needs to hear but it can be difficult to tell the truth to a woman so ardent of heart. What’s more likely, is you’ll tell her how lovely she looks and leave out any unflattering comparisons to Bob Geldoff.

Now imagine when you get home, your mum asks you if you’ve seen aunt Ethel’s hair. At this juncture, you’re free to describe the atrocity carried out on your poor aunt’s bonce without offending anyone.

When it comes to benchmarking for your business, you’re Aunt Ethel. Your colleagues and your clients are less likely to give you the cold hard truth because by and large people dislike being critical to your face.

That’s why it pays to bring in an outside agency to act as a buffer and to elicit what your stakeholders really think. Like your mum in the example, the outside agency is a safe entity to open up to as they’re far enough removed.

Ask your clients

Yes, you know your clients well and they give you feedback, good and bad. But do they really? What about those people that used to work with you and slowly disappeared? Or that big project that you would have expected to win, but didn’t? And that next piece of work that keeps on being delayed…?

As we’ve just demonstrated, a feedback conversation is always more open and honest with an unbiased person than it would be with you.

And that’s where an agency like Luma comes in. Introduce us to the people whose feedback you want – the good and the bad – and we’ll pick it up from there.

We like an open, natural conversation. We’ll find out what they love about you, what they wish you would do more of, moments when you shone and where they wish things had gone differently. You’ll never get proper insight from an online survey.

This approach delivers many more subtle things too, such as their view on key trends and professional challenges; other firms they use; what events and media they like and so much more. We always turn up something surprising, and an unexpected benefit of an exercise like this is enhanced client loyalty.

It takes courage to seek unadulterated, unbiased feedback and your clients – current and lapsed – will respect you for it.

Check out your competition

Yes, you know your competitors well and what they’re up to. But have you taken a good look at them recently with an unbiased eye?

What are their brand messages? Which industry challenges are they talking about? What flagship projects do they have? What are they talking about in the press and on social media? As industry specialists, we’ll also have our own intel to add.

With that knowledge in your pocket, you can work on standing out from the crowd.

Consult your colleagues

Let’s face it, recruiting and retaining the best minds is the biggest challenge we all face right now.

And you know your people, right? And how committed they are? They’d tell you if something was up and speak to you before considering another position… wouldn’t they?

Checking in on employee satisfaction should be an annual activity, regardless of if you need a routine health check or if you’re wondering if it’s time to rebrand.

Whether you’re led from the top or from the bottom, your company values and sense of purpose are all about the people: it’s their beliefs and behaviours that define who you are and form the foundation of the client experience.

You need to know when there’s a disconnect between you and your staff, when there is bad blood and when there is a discrepancy between the values written on your website and those embodied by your people. All of these will have negative repercussions further down the line with a trickledown effect on your customers. The first step to nipping these problems in the bud is knowing what the problems are.


Building an authentic brand relies on authentic feedback and a true understanding of your position in the market. We all know what assumptions make, so don’t make them. Instead, do the due diligence your clients and colleagues deserve, capitalise on your strengths and make the changes needed to fix your flaws.

For help with your benchmarking activities, contact Luma Marketing today for a free consultation.

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