Sometimes a company will spend lots of time and money to get a brand established — they create a name, put a tag line with it that makes a great promise. They build the brand name awareness into their company culture and do the right things to ensure the fit with their core values. They do this to make sure they can honestly deliver what the brand promises. They even wrangle over the colors to make sure they are right and reinforce the name and tag line. They launch a big branding announcement with a flurry of advertising activities and soon it begins to work. The bottom line is going up. Time to relax right? Far from it. The best branding is an ongoing unified effort that should never stop.
Even the most popular brand in the world can be killed. It can be done deliberately or mistakenly. Below are the most common mistakes that kill brands. Memorize all ten and if you catch yourself doing any of them, turn it around fast.
1. INCONSISTENT CORPORATE IDENTITY
A company must use the same name, logo and tag line in every contact inside and outside the company. The company name on the sign out front must match what is on your business card and website. How the phone is answered is important and every way a customer might hear about you should be consistent. Consistent means go wide with your efforts. Branding won’t be achieved if you choose to use only one or two marketing avenues to get the word out (like only radio, or newspaper ads). Your customer must hear and see all your name, logo, tag line and colors consistently over and over and over in many different ways before you are imprinted on your customers mind map.
2. POOR VISUALS (or no visuals)
If you want your company name to pop into someone's mind be aware that pictures are more sticky than words. We think in pictures. Have a consistent visual picture and logo that comes to represent your company. For instance when you see the golden arches you know you can get that same consistent hamburger and fries. Create a strong company visual image (logo) and make it known.
3. NOT TRAINING EMPLOYEES
Think of your employees as potentially walking, talking billboards. Pump them up about the name, logo and tag line - train them to be community ambassadors in your marketing campaign. Reward them when you find them doing it right.
4. FAILURE TO TRACK BRANDING EFFORTS
Every time someone calls your company (or franchise, branch office, etc.), the person on the phone should gently probe for how they came call your company (saw your ad on TV or heard it on the radio, attended a seminar last fall, a friend said this was the best place, etc.). Record the answers and keep a master list. This data should direct future marketing.
5. NOT USING EXISTING CONSUMERS, CLIENTS, PATIENTS FOR BRANDING
The best marketing tool in your arsenal is WOM (word of mouth advertising). Ask your customers, clients or patients if they will join you in getting the word out — ask for their opinion about your ads or seminars; ask them what they think your company’s greatest strength is — and ask if you can quote them in brochure or ad.
6. LETTING MARKETING MATERIALS GET STALE
Many businesses make this marketing mistake but it’s particularly true for small businesses. They decide to have a company brochure and pay for design and then order 10,000 copies which takes them seven years to use up — but they refuse to get a new brochure until all those are gone! Order smaller amounts and re-do them more frequently (even if much of the same information is used with new graphics). Don't use the same television or radio ad for three years — when your materials are stale, people ignore them and tune out your message.
7. FAILING TO FOCUS BRANDING ON THE CORE SERVICE
If you want your branding to be successful, decide what your one core service is and target your marketing to that primarily. This is why Blockbuster stayed #1 in their field. Their core service is renting movie videos/DVD. They also rent video games, sell candy and have a line or merchandise that goes with the movies (Scoobie-Doo Video can be purchased and so can a stuffed Scoobie-Doo dog). But their marketing is mainly about renting movies -- not candy and popcorn sales.
8. NOT HAVE A TAG LINE THAT IS BELIEVABLE
If you go to J.C. Penny's three times and each time could not find what you are looking for, then you aren't going to believe their tag line: It's all inside. If the tag line doesn't match the reality for you consumer, they will not believe it and they will kill your marketing efforts with negative word-of-mouth comments.
9. FAILING TO "GRAB" THE PUBLIC WITH YOUR TAG LINE
Good tag lines are usually three to six believable words that match your core services AND has great appeal. When Avis came up with "We Try Harder" they were telling the world we know we aren't #1 in the business but man we are going to really try to beat those big guys out. It made American consumers smile because we have all been in the position of trying to beat someone out in one way or another and we support a hard charging underdog.
Wal-Mart came up with "Always lower prices. Always" they were telling us we were going to save money every time we shopped in their store … not just during a sale or blue light special ALWAYS. And then they made sure we did.
When Nike came up with "Just Do It" they were telling us to get off our lazy bums and get out there and just do it (in their shoes) — we all know we "should" get out there and do it — they prodded us nicely.
When Precision Intermedia came up with "Imagine No Limits" they were telling marketing consumers to think outside of the boundaries of money, location, history, or any barrier you might perceive in your marketing endeavors .. Because if you can imagine it — it can be done.
10. NOT KNOWING WHERE SUCCESSFUL BRANDING STARTS
Successful branding starts inside your company. Only you know your core service. Only you and your staff deliver the message. Talk to your consumers often. Only you can catch an employee being a good ambassador and reward them for it. Only you can insure consistency in use of name, logo, and tag line. Successful branding starts inside your company — it's nurtured there and you can take all the credit for it's success.