Establishing a powerful brand takes a lot of years and hard work. Sometimes businesses actually undermine their own branding efforts. Promotional Consultant Today passes along these must-avoid branding pitfalls, as shared by blogger Brad Shorr.
1. Give sales reps free reign. Giving sales reps free reign to articulate their own value propositions and produce their own sales collateral results in a reign of terror, at least as far as branding is concerned. Branding is all about consistency and repetition. But if left to their own devices, no two sales reps will portray their firm exactly the same way. Sales reps are powerful brand communicators, but the messaging must be orchestrated. Otherwise, the market will never get a clear understanding of what the brand represents.
2. Push too many benefits. The more things a business asks people to remember, the fewer things people will remember. Not many firms have the courage to let it all ride on the one or two benefits that really differentiate it. It feels a lot safer to work every conceivable benefit into the messaging, based on the idea that by doing so, something will appeal to somebody. But firms that promote too many benefits damage their brands in two ways. First, they undermine their credibility by overstating their case. Second, they convey a value proposition that’s too big to get your head around and too hard to remember.
3. Pursue too many market segments. Wal-Mart hasn’t gone after the country club crowd, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting their business. Many firms feel that focusing on a particular market segment is limiting, but in fact, the opposite is true. Focusing on a well-defined niche liberates a firm to speak purely and powerfully to an audience that cares about what the brand stands for. For most small and midsize firms, it’s far more practical and fruitful to be a big brand in a small pond than a tiny brand in an ocean.
4. Change focus too often. This is kind of the opposite of No. 2. Have you ever seen one of those companies that pushes low prices one month, great customer service the next month and innovative solutions the month after that? How can a brand like that have any meaning at all? A couple of things cause this type of tail-chasing. One is jumping on anecdotal evidence: We got a huge customer because of our service, so let’s push the hell out of service. Another is obsessing over market trends: Everybody is pushing innovation, so we had better push it, too. Yes, brands must adapt, but they must have rock-like qualities as well, or their meaning will disappear into the wind.
Source: Brad Shorr is director of content & social media for Straight North, a Chicago internet marketing agency. He has also worked as a freelancer and in-house for a middle market B2B firm, giving him a broad perspective on marketing and general business issues. His articles on social media, copywriting and marketing strategy have appeared on industry-leading sites including Smashing Magazine, Six Revisions and Search Engine Journal.