Marketing strategies, and much more, start with a firm understanding of—and plan for implementing—your company’s brand. Your brand is at the center of who you are and what you do.
But it can be tempting, in the rush to keep up with social media, and lead generation, and lead nurturing, and sales enablement, and conferences, and meetings, and the miscenally of daily duties to forget to take time to make sure that basic foundation is in place.
Whether you are launching a new company or product, or working to revitalize your existing brand, rushing the process or overlooking steps will only cost you results in the long run.
Don’t Make These Branding Mistakes
1. Settling for a logo or visual upgrade
A logo is not a brand. (I’ve said that before: When What You Want Is Brand Positioning, Don’t Settle for a Logo.)
A logo, along with slogans, colors, fonts and other visual elements, is an important part of a brand package, but just changing up the logo isn’t the same as rebranding.
When your team, with or without the help of a partner agency, sets out to truly create a new brand position or to rebrand your existing solutions, the complete package should go beyond cosmetic touches to address the core messages and language you will use, the benefits your company brings to its customers, the advantages of doing business with you, and even internal changes needed to better reflect that brand identity. (For example, if you brand identity focuses heavily on the quality of your customer service after the sale, such as training new customers to use your solution, internal changes may be needed to increasing training staff so you can follow through on that commitment.)
2. Not doing your research
Branding begins with research and discovery.
That means learning as much as you can about how your company is viewed by both internal and external audiences, and about how your competition has positioned itself in the market.
Internal research should include feedback from all departments and several levels of corporate hierarchy. Chances are there are different opinions about what your company does best based on different vantage points.
Externally, you need to look at what your competition is saying, what customers are saying about you and the competition, and what analysts are saying about your industry as a whole.
All of these will factor into your final decision on a brand identity and messaging.
3. Overlooking opportunities
As you seek out the specific messaging and identity that will set your marketing strategies for the future, be cautious not to fall back on the same benefits everyone in your industry can claim.
Fast food restaurants don’t build their brands around being fast; that is just expected. Instead, they build brands around the opportunities that others in their industry don’t offer, or at least don’t talk about.
For Subway, that means “Eat Fresh” — emphasizing the idea that their sandwiches have fresh ingredients and are made when you order. Burger King used the slogan “Have it your way” in the ‘80s, focused on ordering your burger with the condiments you wanted, not just being handed one with standard toppings.
In that research we talked about, don’t just gather what is being said, keep your eyes open and imagination turned on for what isn’t being talked about. Especially if it can be used to differentiate your brand from the rest. Create an authentic brand, not just a commodity.
4. Not getting buy-in
Just as it is important to get feedback from the C-suite and department heads, particularly in sales and public relations, before settling on a brand identity and approach, it is essential to get buy-in from those stakeholders before finalizing plans.
After all, they will be essential allies in bringing the brand identity to life, whether by authorizing expenditures for updated campaigns and strategies, or by carrying out the identity in communications to all of your company’s audiences. Remember, the brand is guiding your entire companywide communication and content strategy.
5. Failing to support the brand with content
Speaking of content, your new brand approach and identity isn’t going to garner awareness and develop a standing on it’s own. You need to do more than change letterhead, business cards and telephone hold recordings.
You need to back up that brand identity with content that supports it. From social media posts to blogs, website content and public relations outreach such as industry thought leadership articles, your brand’s message needs to be represented.
For example, Nike, known for its infamous swoosh and “Just Do It” slogan, along with its shoes, don’t just talk about how great its products are. Instead, the company builds up its brand identity of helping people achieve their personal fitness goals with content.
Nike’s Pinterest boards and Twitter feed are filled with content focused on what their customers can do, full of lifestyle and fitness advice.
Do the same for your brand. Create content that reaches your audience by helping them achieve their goals or solve their problems.
6. Thinking the job is done
So you’ve checked off all of the boxes in the Six Steps to Creating Enviable Brands, ensured you weren’t making any of the first five mistakes outlined in this blog post, and are ready to lean back and put your feet up on the desk. Job done!
Not so fast.
Sure, you can take a break from a total focus on branding for a while and turn your attention to the continuation of your inbound marketing and content creation efforts, but don’t think you can simply “set it and forget it” for the next few years after introducing a new brand identity.
Just as you monitor your click-through rates, conversion rates, and blog subscriber numbers, you need to continue to monitor your brand’s position in the minds of your audiences as well.
At regular intervals, consider conducting an audit to gather feedback on how your brand is doing. Our Audit Checklist outlines five types of audits for monitoring your success:
Media & Public Relations Audit
Messaging & Positioning Audit
Marketing Success Audit
Marketing Content Audit
Or find details in our Media, Messaging and Marketing Audits Case Study about how Zebra Technologies and QualComm identified additional opportunities for strengthening their brand identities through audits.
Have you seen a brand make one of these mistakes in the process of creating a new or improved brand identity? JONES takes a deliberate approach to creation of a true brand identity for its clients, not just a pretty logo or catchy slogan. Take a look inside a proven process in Six Steps to Creating Enviable Brands.