Top 10 Brand Building Blunders

1. No differentiators

If there is no difference between what you say about your company and what competitors say about their companies, you have a weak brand.

Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on your company's growth and profitability. High growth firms are 3X more likely to have a strong, easy-to-understand differentiator.

Here is a quick test to see if you have a true differentiator.

Think of some way you believe your company is different. Then ask if a potential competitor could ever say the opposite. If the answer is “no,” it is probably not a good differentiator. By the way, having great people and offering great client service don’t pass this test.

2. Trying to be everything to everyone This typically results in being nothing special to anyone.

Many firms head in this direction because they believe that offering more services creates more opportunities. In fact, they are making it much more difficult to attract new business. Having a clear focus or specialization is another attribute of high growth firms.

3. Failure to understand what a brand is

Your brand is not your name or logo or mission statement. It is more about how the outside world (especially potential customers or employees) sees you. Think of it as your reputation. Another dimension of brand is how visible you are in the marketplace. Together, these two elements — reputation and visibility — comprise the essence of your brand. As such it truly impacts just about everything you do. This leads directly to the next blunder.

4. Not realizing that your brand is your most important asset.

With a strong brand, a company can replace people, modify service offerings, or even change client segments with the full expectation that they can continue to enjoy success. Failing to invest in brand development is short sighted and costly in the long run.

The company can be bought and sold on the strength of its brand in the marketplace.

Failing to invest in brand development is short sighted and costly in the long run.

5. Branding in a blindfold

Let’s face it, we all think we understand our clients and competitors. But we’re usually wrong — dangerously wrong. In virtually every research study that is conduct, it is found that internal staff have a distorted view of what their clients really think.

6. Making brand development a battleground for other issues

Sadly, many companies turn brand development into a battleground over the future. For instance, a simple logo decision can become a protracted battle over unresolved issues.

Brand development is difficult enough in its own right. Don’t burden it with unresolved issues around firm direction or control.

7. Aiming too low

Good brands are both real and aspirational. They stand for something that people can get behind and support. Try to be the leader in something. Standing for something helps you build a strong brand.

8. Making a promise you can’t keep

The flip side of aiming too low is offering a brand promise that you can’t deliver on. Overpromising will cost you credibility and trust. There is a fine line between being aspirational and being unrealistic. People will forgive you for aiming high and falling short of perfection if you are better than others. But if you are aiming high but only deliver a mediocre product, don’t expect much understanding.

9. Forgetting online branding

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on traditional approaches to branding while ignoring online marketing’s growing role in brand development. The future of branding is digital, so plan for it in your strategy, brand building and rollout.

10. The “me too” mistake

Fitting in with the rest of your competitors is not a sound strategy: “They use blue, I’ll use blue.” “Every government contractor has a flag and a capitol dome, so I should too.” While adopting attributes of your competitors may feel safer, it is actually playing with fire. It’s hard enough to tell most businesses apart. If you can’t be completely different, at least look and sound a bit different. It won’t hurt, and it will probably make your company easier to recognize and remember.

For more information and tips, check out the branding and marketing resources in the Additional Resources section of this guide or visit the Hinge library on our website: www.hingemarketing.com/library.

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