Branding | Business

5 Branding Fails & how to fix ’em

You may recall Trevor’s declaration that your brand sucks (if you don’t do these 5 things). There are many ways to get branding wrong, though, so it’s worth revisiting as a reminder of how to correct when you’re struggling.

Mistake #1: No unique value proposition

A value proposition is both really easy to construct and really easy to screw up.

Do you sell shoes? Good for you! Sell ’em. But why should someone buy from you? They’re comfortable? They look good?

Those aren’t unique value props. They’re the table stakes to even sell shoes in the first place.

The fix: Ask “Why.”

You can make sure that your business’s value proposition is truly unique by asking one simple question, “Why did you start your business? And don’t just ask it one. Ask it 5 times. As it delves deeper, each answer will take you to the point where you’re discovering something unique about your brand.

Once you know that, go back to the start and shout the unique part loudest: we design loafers that make you look sexy like a Louboutin!

Mistake #2: No clear understanding of what Branding means

You know what branding is, right? Name, logos, fonts used, colors—your website!

Right?

…right?

No. Obviously no. It’s much more than that.

Branding is everything you communicate about your business. The way you talk. How you hire. What you tell yourself in the morning when you go to work.

Branding isn’t just what you say to your target customer—it’s how you and your company interact with each other and the world. Sure, logo and colors are part of it, but it’s also how kind or professional or mercantile you are in every interaction with you and your team.

The fix: From within, then without.

Branding starts inside your company. Every team member should know 2 or 3 key values that drive decision-making for the whole company. That’s your company, and that will become your brand. Only when everyone understands what and why branding is essential can you build a solid brand for your business.

Mistake #3: Afraid to look in the closet.

Of all the branding mistakes I’ll list here, this is what I consider is the most dangerous and the most common mistake. If your brand doesn’t make you distinct in the market, it’s a problem. If you refuse to consider that your positioning could be the source of a number of your marketing & growth challenges, it’s a critical problem.

Sticking to the data and facts when explaining that there is a problem with your branding can help. Many senior people would rather just focus on performance marketing or PR or events or whatever instead of addressing core positioning problems.

The fix: It’s just an experiment!

One of the keys to resolving this mistake lies in the way how you deliver the message.

Instead of saying, “We have a problem with our branding,” present the issue within the context of a growth experiment. “Let’s try a new market!” maybe, or, “Wouldn’t it be cool if people knew this about us?”

When your experiment gives you results—or doesn’t—you can make decisions about the brand as a whole afterward.

Mistake #4: Branding guidelines are not documented

One of the reasons why many businesses have inconsistent branding is that they don’t document their branding guidelines.

Documenting guidelines ensure that everyone knows and understands your branding as you scale your business gradually.

It also guides employees across all the departments so that all the campaign aligns with your branding.

The Fix: If you do it twice, write it down.

Anything your company uses twice—lockups, boilerplate text, voicemail messages—write it down. We love Notion for documenting and storing everything we do at CrowdTamers, and we have great success capturing key repeated data there.

Sometimes we discover that there’s text or logos or assets that we’re using that aren’t actually all that good or that are old. Keeping a central place for our key external branding docs makes it easy for anyone to find and update what we show and tell the world.

What do you store in your brand repo?

  • Logos
  • Visuals and imagery
  • Fonts and typography
  • Color schemes
  • Tone, voice, and messaging
  • Core Values and Principles
  • Mission and Vision statements

Mistake #5: Assuming that marketing and branding are the same

Branding and marketing share overarching goals and are often used together. It is in a way understandable why many business owners and even marketers assume that they’re the same.

Well, they’re not!

Brand positioning is the unique market segment that a company occupies. It’s a mix of audience, message, product, culture, and channel. Marketing is how you attract people to your company.

The Fix: Ask “who”

Who needs to know when you change a marketing campaign?

Probably the marketing team. Does your dev team or your finance team, or your office manager need to know? Probably not.

That’s clearly a marketing change, not a brand positioning one.

Who needs to know if you decide to go upmarket, charge 5x more for the product you’ve created, make your logo and your website look more upscale, and completely change your company’s perception by every lead and investor?

Likely everyone in the company & every current and future lead needs to know. That’s a much more foundational change, and it’s a change of your brand’s positioning.

Knowing who a campaign or change affects tells you whether you’re working on marketing or branding.

Need help with branding? Have a fail or a win you want to share? Hit us up @CrowdTamers on Twitter, and let’s chat about it! 🙂

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