Branding Victims Beware!

Branding acts like the few phrases listed in the dictionary to describe a word. These descriptions must be spot on in order to help the reader comprehend the definition. The same goes for branding. Branding must be consistent, accurate, and direct. Many don’t realize there are four main mistakes often made when it comes to branding. Are you victim to them? Here they are:

  • Lack of focus. Choose a few key qualities that make your brand unique. Trying to be all things to all people dilutes your brand, and you end up not standing for anything. Identify the most important traits or attributes to highlight, and focus your efforts on them.
  • Not understanding your audience. How well do you know your audience? Do you know their hopes and their dreams? Do you know the fears that keep them up at night? It’s critical that you understand your audience in a very comprehensive way so that you can tailor your brand accordingly.
  • Misleading/Untrue. Never, never make promises you can’t keep just to close a deal. While these tactics may be helpful in the short run, in time it will come back to haunt you. Be honest and upfront as you create your brand…that way you can be sure it is built on a solid foundation that won’t crumble over time.
  • Inconsistent brand message. Once you have developed a reputation for one thing, you can’t switch to another without damaging the relationship you already have with your customers. If they pick you for sophistication and you suddenly declare sophistication to be unimportant, that will have an impact on customer retention and future sales. It’s important to note that a consistent message delivered badly is often better than brilliant delivery of several inconsistent messages.

Here are examples of companies that have made some of the above branding mistakes:

  • Netflix/Qwikster: The separation of Netflix into two companies, Netflix and Qwikster showed a lack of focus. Qwikster represented the ultimate in unnecessary change. Netflix would be an Instant Play computer movie watching services, and Qwikster would handle the mail order DVDs. New logos were introduced, new login pages, and of course, increased prices. With a massive amount of subscriber cancellations, this rebrand didn’t last long. Netflix wizened up and went back to just being Netflix, one consistent brand under one umbrella.
  • Coke: Why change a classic? New Coke was supposed to be “smoother, rounder yet bolder” but Americans saw this as tampering with perfection. New Coke was failing to sell and consumers were selling black market cases of the classic Coca-Cola for as much as $30 dollars a case! It didn’t take long for Coca-Cola to realize its mistake and go back to doing what they did best.

Finally, one company that understands its audience and focus is:

  • Zappos: A great brand that understands its audience. They’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Complaints are just as important, if not more, than compliments. With free shipping and returns, Zappos provides unmatched customer service. You’re always guaranteed a great purchase – or ALL of your money back

Beware of how important branding is; it can define you!