According to the quote, unless your customer has an uplifting experience with your company and its brand, you can be sure that you are doing something wrong. The company’s brand is its identity and effective branding would therefore be necessary for any company to ensure that people associate your company with that ‘certain something’ and will remember you by it. Whether they remember you well or with anger really depends on the kind of branding. If you are careless while branding or have branding pitfalls as they are referred to could cause some serious damage to your company and probably even cost you the entire business. What is your company doing to avoid branding pitfalls and what do you consider to the most important criteria for branding?
The experience that your customers have with your brand will either make your brand larger than life or wipe it off the market completely. Many companies have been extremely successful in building an ‘image’ around their brand, such that every time there is a situation or event even remotely resembling this imaging, customers think of the brand. This is successful branding and also means that not only has the company avoided any branding pitfalls but also has been very insightful with its branding strategy.
One of most common branding pitfalls is when a company believes that they ‘know’ their customer despite not having made any real attempt to actually ‘know’ the customer. This leads them to assume that whatever they put ‘out there’ will be instantly appreciated and liked by their customers. However, this is one of the worst branding pitfalls – assumption. It is vital for companies to first reach out to their customers and target audience to gain their feedback and assess their preferences. Of course, soliciting feedback and receiving it is not always an easy job – you would know it as a customer too. How often do you respond to someone asking for feedback? But asking for and receiving feedback is absolutely crucial to your company’s success and also for avoiding branding pitfalls.
To gain feedback it is important that you convey to the target group that the pointers collected from the survey will be used to improve customer service and the products and brands offered. You could run the survey on your website, social media sites and email. If you consider employing a professional agency to help with the survey, you could also send out physical survey forms to your target audience. All these actions, you would argue, take up time, energy and attract a huge cost. Sure they do – but the benefits gained from actually knowing what your customer wants will far outweigh the costs and can be the difference between success and failure.
So now you have received feedback from your customers on what they expect from your brand. However, as a company do you know yourself well enough? What your employees think of you and what the current strengths and failings of your company are? This information too can be solicited from customers and also your employees. You cannot hope to avoid branding pitfalls and other crucial mistakes if you are unaware of these basic facts. In knowing what your employees feel about working with you, your company is actually building its competency and when it is strong internally, it would be able to provide enhanced service and also create branding that ‘sticks’ in the mind and memory of its customers and others.
Armed with this crucial data, it will much simpler to prepare a brand strategy minus the branding pitfalls and the identity your company creates for its brand will be more easily identifiable by customers. Ensure that you put together a core team with at least one person from the top leadership team to lead the brand campaign. This team must not only lead the branding strategy but also be able to represent your company’s values, culture and everything your company would like to be known for. Also the senior person must be someone with high credibility and must be known in the industry for being the epitome of trust, integrity and other values. Not putting together a well-planned and focused group for this exercise would constitute one of the branding pitfalls. The best strategy would fail if it is not conveyed right and is unable to leave a positive impression on its audience.
Of course, the brand strategy must convey what your company stands for but it must also reflect the feedback, opinions, preferences and ideals of your customers. This was the premise on which feedback and opinions were solicited from customers to start with. If the customers are unable to perceive a ‘fulfilment of promises’ made to them, you can be sure that the strategy will fail and will be one of the most detrimental branding pitfalls.
Some of the other crucial branding pitfalls are:
– Creating your brand in a silo means that you do not take buy-in from the people that work with you. They are the best people to tell you what will work and what won’t since they are involved with daily operations and also deal with customers directly on a day to day basis.
– Being focused only on creating an impressive tagline or logo for your brand. This is perhaps the most brain dead of the branding pitfalls. A brand may come to be known by the logo but it is not only the logo to start with. Your branding strategy must focus on what the brand will do for its customers and what they can expect from the brand. Once this image has been cemented only then will people look to your brand’s logo as being the symbol of all those positives.
– Don’t forget to assess the current strengths and weaknesses of your competitors while creating a brand strategy. There is a lot that any company can learn from those competing with them – not just best practices but also how to avoid branding pitfalls and other errors that could prove costly for the business.
– View your strategy and business and that of your competitors and customers and see what works better. Incorporate the good points and strip off the negatives. There could be one customer or competitor that is more active on one social media site or prefers a particular style of communication, an effective branding strategy would take this into account. It would be advisable to view the proposed strategy from the point of view of the customer before cementing it.
– One of the serious branding pitfalls is when what your company stands for is different to what the brand seems to be conveying. Inconsistency never bodes well for a company and its strategies.
– Even if you keep all the above branding pitfalls at bay but falter at the marketing or promotion stage, your branding strategy would fail. You should be able to convey the thoughts and image of your brand effectively at this stage such that the impact is lasting.
Just like a number of aspects connected with a company, a branding strategy is either effective or ineffective. There is no right or wrong and companies must analyse what will work best for them. Branding is serious business and must be seen as such and every effort must be made to avoid branding pitfalls – some of which could be obvious while others a bit more devious.