When we talk about branding, we aren’t just talking about a logo, colour palette and fonts. We are talking about how your business is perceived internally and externally, and which can be strategically developed in a way which aligns with business goals. It’s a soft skill in marketing that is often misunderstood and left incomplete after the visual aspects have been created – sometimes years old and out-of-date – much to the detriment of those businesses.
We’ve put together the three biggest mistakes we’ve observed during our collective marketing careers which we hope will help other businesses learn from.
Aspiration vs Reality
When taking part in a branding workshop, facilitators will often ask the group of key stakeholders to analogise their brand in different ways. For example: what brand of car is most similar to your company brand. The trouble with this approach in isolation is that most companies aspire to be successful within their industry, so technology companies will often answer “Apple” or “Microsoft” to a question around analogising their brand to those of other tech companies. Not because they compare themselves to Apple or Microsoft but because they aspire to be more like them. This aspiration is generally not the reality though. So even a top-notch new brand encompassing the best design, messaging and archetypes, and backed by a solid plan, won’t cut through because it’s misaligned and will often fail to execute well internally.
While easier said than done, businesses need to take an objective view of their brand or take steps to implement a comprehensive change management program which includes culture change – something which can take years to accomplish.
Broad Brush Brand Statements
If you try to sell to everyone, then you will likely sell to no-one. Market segments and the stakeholders who influence and make decisions within them have different problems and are at various stages of their buying journey. Knowing who is buying and what specific problem you are solving will set you miles apart from your competitors. Too often we see broad brush brand statements like “our solution saves time or money or creates efficiency” or a combination of the three. These are universal problems for businesses and are too general to really cut through.
Be clear about what it is you sell and the specific benefits it provides for each customer segment. A reliable formula for a statement is simply: <Company Name> does <solution> so that <customer segment> <solution to problem/benefit>.
Value and Commitment
The biggest mistake we see is that many of the financial decision-makers, particularly in B2B SMBs, don’t understand the value of branding as it’s hard to measure. Because of this, they either don’t invest in the first place or don’t commit to consistency. The saddest thing we observe time and time again is where businesses hire an inexperienced marketer on a low wage without any support from marketing experts, who is expected to plan and manage everything. 100% of the time this ends up a waste of money for the company and a bad experience for the employee who either learns the wrong techniques or is blamed for failures.
If you think your brand might not be complete or consistent, we offer a free assessment using a software application we have developed, and which is the first on the market. Reach out to us to find out more.