Every business – even yours – has a brand. It’s not your logo, your website or the way you do your advertising. Your brand is the culmination of all these things and more. Even the way you and your staff answer the phone is part of your brand.
Over time a brand becomes one of the most valuable things a business can own. It stands for something and makes promises to customers. With a valuable asset such as this you need to look after it, nurture it, and ensure that you never do anything to damage it. Yet we see big businesses doing things to damage their brand every day.
It’s so easy to do damage that can take years to undo. As a business owner you can avoid this pain. Here are our five classic branding mistakes to avoid:
1. Branding on price, service or quality
The people who run pound shops have a problem. Apart from inflation damaging their proposition, the only reason they are giving people to pick their business is that they are cheaper than their competitors. This is a dangerous message and branding mistake.
If your customers have picked you only because you are cheaper than the competition, then when they are ready to buy again in six month’s time, they will happily switch to any competitor that is now beating you on price. The internet makes this easy for them.
You have a similar problem if your brand is built around having the best quality or service. Does any business admit to having the worst service or quality? Of course not. Yet when all businesses claim to have the best service and quality, it won’t work as a differentiator for any of them. The key is to build a brand that relies on something your competitors don’t have, such as you!
2. Not living your message
There’s no point claiming to be the most innovative business in your field if you don’t spend the most on research & development, and launch the best new products. Customers expect a consistency between what you say and the way you act. They will quickly discover if the two do not match, and you will lose their trust in a way that can never be regained. Trust buys a lot of business and needs to be protected. Avoid branding mistakes like this and make sure your business walks the talk.
3. Changing message too often
You also need consistency with the brand message you are sending out. It’s OK for a new business to play around with a few messages to find the one that sticks. But once you have developed a reputation for, say, innovation; you can’t switch to developing a reputation for “friendliness” without damaging the relationship you already have with your customers.
If they pick you for innovation and you suddenly declare innovation to be unimportant, that will have an impact on customer retention and future sales. A consistent message delivered badly is often better than brilliant delivery of several inconsistent messages.
4. Being the same as competitors
When you are starting your business it is very tempting to look at who else is in the marketplace and emulate them. In a way, it is the logical thing to do.
After all, if one company has succeeded in that way, then surely you will? Sadly you are unlikely to. You are telling the marketplace that you are a “me too” – a business that gets its ideas from others and doesn’t stand for anything on its own. Me too businesses tend to survive only by competing on price... and you now know what a risky game that is.
5. Trying to be all things to all people
A successful brand will repel as many people as it attracts. In fact, the less appealing your brand is to people outside of your target market, the more it is likely to appeal to those within. There is no such thing as a product or service that appeals to everyone. We are all different for a reason. So why would you try to appeal to everyone?
Ensure that your brand turns as many people off as it turns others on. When you hear some customers say “no thanks, it’s not for me” you know you’ve got something that other people should want.