There was a great article in Brand Strategy Insider recently that looked at how Starbucks retooled their stores several years ago when Howard Schultz took the reins of the company as it’s earnings slowed to a crawl. As a result of going back to its “coffee roots”, the company made some big decisions about letting go of the “killer breakfast sandwich” trend that was diluting their brand. When considering how to re-establish brand authority, author Mark Di Somma recommends 5 actions. I’m translating them here into questions for you to ask yourself:

1. What do you want to be the brand authority in? Make the decision then stay the course. In an effort to re-establish itself as “the coffee authority”, Starbucks shed the CDs, movies and breakfast sandwiches that were cluttering the stores. Coffee is to Starbucks as _______________ is to your company or organization.

2. What can you improve upon in order to foster that authority? Starbucks closed every North American store for an afternoon to retrain their baristas in how to properly pour espresso. So maybe you’ve gone off course — what actions can you take to reset, big and small?

3. What can you stop doing in order to retain that authority? Take a look at what might be diluting the focus of your brand at this moment — in all aspects of your business. What do you need to let go of?

4. Are you muddling toward the middle ground? The safe bet is not always the best bet. When you dilute and go for the comfortable choice — trying to be all things to all people — you quickly lose the distinction of being the authority. There are lots of places to hang out in a business meeting, but not all coffee shops have the quality roast that Starbucks has.

5. Is everyone on board with your pursuit of authority? Share the goal of being the authority with your whole staff. Brand should permeate every aspect of a company. “… make it clear to employees everywhere … that each tiny decision they make is just one more opportunity to passionately and obsessively move the company in the right direction, not the common direction.”

Hopefully this has inspired some ideas for you on how to refresh and rethink your brand authority. Writing this has reinforced my sense that I want to move more toward helping nonprofits and small business develop smart brands. We are on our way!