5 Branding Techniques Companies Get Wrong and How To Do It Right
When you see remarkable brands, do you ever wonder:
How do they maintain a consistent image across all their channels?
How are they able to appeal to their audience so well?
How can they cut through the noise with such distinction?
Fortunately, it's not rocket science, but it is essential to standing apart from the crowd. Being remarkable is the goal of most businesses, and if successful, it demonstrates your success in the market.
Building a brand can be easier than you think, so long as you ensure you're using the right techniques.
Branding Techniques To Avoid For a Better Image
Branding is important to your business. If you get off on the wrong foot, there's a good chance you won't be able to shake the personality you develop. You could be stuck with a poorly strategized brand, especially if you use the wrong techniques to grow it naturally. But don't worry, we'll give you some examples, and the fix for each.
1. Trying To Be Everything to Everyone
Humans have an innate desire to please people. It's primal. If your fellow cavemen didn't want you around, you were on your own, and that meant a mostly-certain death.
While modern life isn't as savage, we still have that need to know we're liked. New brands make the same mistake.
You're never going to appeal to everyone. You'll waste time and money trying to accomplish the task. For example, even Google doesn't own 100% of the search market.
Trying to earn everyone's approval will pull your brand in too many directions and stop you from staying true to your values and purpose. It'll also cause you to dilute the promise of your solution. A service that focuses on taking photos of baby's from newborn to six-months-old only needs to target a very specific audience. If a brand were to photograph kids in general, they need to include copy for newborns, toddlers, teens, graduations, birthdays, etc. Would you rather hire the person who offers exactly what you need and is outstanding or someone who might be able to do it?
The Fix: Focus On The Audience That Matters
The benefit of focusing on the audience that matters is you can create content that's more targeted and you can focus on the nuances of their problems.
You also need to identify your attractive character. Now, the thing with attractive characters is that they're meant to be polarizing. The concept is that you can have a handful of people who are indifferent to you, or you can have a handful that have your back in every decision, even if you pick up a few haters along the way.
There's no need to be loved by everyone. If you can focus on those you're trying to help, you'll be able to provide a much better product and build brand loyalty with the people you're serving.
2. Lacking Consistency
There are multiple facets to the concept of trust, but on one level, it comes down to an If/Then statement. If they do this, then I will do this. If they ask a question about our product, then we'll answer it with a personalized messaged.
So long as these statements remain true, customers learn what to expect. It breeds familiarity. Many brands will do what feels right for each interaction, contradicting previous engagements and marking themselves as hypocrites. This is especially obvious in social campaigns that have multiple authors and no one editing to ensure they're consistent.
You may have also seen blogs use random images on a post that don't match the tone or feel of the content or overall site. This doesn't allow the reader to get comfortable with what's being shared. On a deep level, their mind is unable to mark you as trustworthy, and that hesitation can stop them from converting on your offers.
The Fix: Create A Brand Style Guide
Having a style guide is a simple way to ensure everyone knows what the expectations of the brand are at all times. For it to be effective, though, it needs to be comprehensive.
A writer should be able to pick it up and understand the parameters around copy and tone. A designer can find all the colors and sizing and shapes the brand wants to associate with. Everyone who creates something that will be viewed outside your organization can use this to ensure they're hitting the right marks and not presenting a conflicting product.
3. Focusing on the Moment
Some brands get too swept up in current affairs. And while this isn't a bad thing if you're a news agency or your company relies on the media, for the majority of the market, it's sure to lead to failure.
These companies aren't establishing branding for the long-term. They're looking for the quick wins to go viral and get noticed. News flash: going viral isn't easy. And when after something does go viral, capitalizing on it is more difficult because the people now interacting with your brand don't care about solving their problem with your product, they fear missing out on the content presented.
Your metrics may say one thing, but without quality leads converting, the story it tells is something completely different.
Your company's core competencies and expertise aren't supposed to be changing constantly. Along with your brand's values, they're supposed to define your personality and how you do business. Still, companies are quick to alter course, just because something that happened that day has given them a false-perspective.
The Fix: Hold True To Your Brand Strategy
Your brand's style guide should serve as a bible. With it, you can ensure every interaction or piece of content abides by your brand's values and purposing. This breeds consistency, but it also works to keep you rooted in your mission. When a potential opportunity for marketing arises, you can quickly decide if it adheres to your mission's guidelines, and then execute accordingly.
If you do use current affairs (since there's nothing wrong with capitalizing on industry-tied events), ensure you're telling your brand's story and shape the events to fit your narrative, not the other way around. The goal is to show people your good side during these events, and if you can position your brand and products because of it, you'll gain far greater traction.
4. Jumping Thoughtlessly on the Bandwagon
Let's preface with this: not all bandwagons should be avoided. Some people thought the internet was a fad and lost a chance to become early adopters of the medium.
The issue with bandwagons is that so many brands will follow the crowd simply because there are people headed in that direction. They don't take the time to see if the crowd is going to the same place they hope to get.
Just because others may be seeing success on the route doesn't mean they're headed to the same place either. More than likely, they've conducted an analysis and deciding what, how, and when they were going to execute. That bandwagon is only part of the journey.
For smaller brands, this is a larger issue. With a yearning for more traffic and engagement, they're more willing to follow what they "successful" brands doing. The problem is that larger brands often have more sway and more money to help do what they need to. Some of the trends and fads are only worthwhile if you have the resources to allocate, leading to many smaller brands wasting time and funds by trying to follow suit.
Gap tried to jump on the "modern, sexy, and cool" bandwagon when looking for a new logo. The graphic was poorly received and Gap ended up returning to their previous logo. The major issue, however, was that Gap crumbled under the criticism, rather than actually testing out how their logo performed. They wanted to be trendy, but didn't think through the actual execution.
The Fix: Create the Personality Your Audience Needs
If you are going to follow a bandwagon, there needs to be more thought than, "It worked for them." Brands should analyze how the trends can help them get to where they're going. It is perfectly acceptable to step away from the crowd. In fact, it may be a decision to skip a fad that differentiates your brand, making you more remarkable.
Better, would be to identify the best way to work with your specific audience so you can build a personality around that. Then, you can stick with it, not falling for design or content trends that don't support your brand's image.
5. Breaking Brand Promises
Whether you've planned it or not, your brand has a promise to keep. Just like with the If/Then statements we discussed, customers expect certain things from your brand. If you fail to deliver on these promises, prepare for a backlash.
Not upholding your end of the bargain kills the trust between you and the customer. Whether it's from a guarantee, bad guidance in content, or false benefits in your copy, customers see your brand as an expert to the problem you're addressing.
Often, brand's will take something that sounds good and run with it, even if it positions their brand as solving something it can't.
Take Airborne as an example. The company had made claims its product was backed by research. When it came out that the "research" was actually the founder's opinion as a second-grade teacher, the company was forced to pay out millions, losing customers in the process.
The Fix: Know Your Promise and Deliver
If you want to be able to deliver on your promises, the easiest way is to make it a more deliberate part of your planning. Rather than guessing at what you promise, creating a concrete list gives you the ability to ensure you're fulfilling your end of the bargain. We use the image above to plan everything out at once.
This list should include every product, service, and department within your business. What does customer service promise to do when consumers call with problems? How do your products solve your customer's problem?
If you take the time to decide what promises you're making, it will be significantly easier to deliver because you know how each promise drives your brand forward.
Build a Remarkable Brand
Building a remarkable brand is challenging, but if you can avoid what companies get wrong in their strategies, you can start a step ahead.
We've touched on it here, but the most important thing to your brand is trust. Breaking trust means losing credibility and with that goes customers and income. By prioritizing trust in your branding strategy, you'll remain consistent and deliver on the promises your audience expects, giving you an edge in the fight to becoming remarkable.
Chris is the CEO at Lean Labs. He enjoys strategizing and creating content that drives results. When not typing away, Chris is exploring nature with his two daughters, wife, and dogs.