“It isn’t about the splash a brand makes, it’s about how long it keeps its head above water.”
At Sail Creative, we are presented with similar issues that clients have with branding. Here is an observation of the most common brand problems I have seen in recent projects:
1. Lacking consistent voice, brand vision and mission.
Consistency is key for success and growth. If you are inconsistent, you will lack trust and clarity for your audience (as well as internally). Mission and values is where every business should start. By aligning your mission and values, you will have strong foundations and confidence for your brand moving forward.
2. Internal lack of understanding of the brand’s audience and their needs.
If you don’t understand your audience you are missing valuable information that could turn into opportunity. Knowing your audience gives you insight into their values, lifestyle, needs, and how you what you offer benefits their life. What benefit do you give? Do you save them time? Money? Do you support growth of their business? Do you create fun? Finding and defining your audience will make business a whole lot easier going forward.
3. The brand does not stand for anything and it does not promise anything. It is just a name and a logo.
A brand is no longer only about a mark or a logo. Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. Audiences are more knowledgeable/brand savvy than ever, constantly surrounded by the noise of advertising and messaging (you have probably come across 65 brands in the last hour). They can see straight through brands that are trying to be something they are not, and that have no meaning. A brand is everything you and your company does, and needs to have substance. Substance comes from knowing your audience and their needs. Clear and concise messaging is key.
4. The brand has a clichéd, or meaningless point of difference: ’we are the leading tech company’ or ‘quality leader or the service leader or the innovation leader’ or, worst of all, just the leader).
Define your why, know this, and make sure everyone involved in your business know’s it. This is a rigorous process, but an important one.
5. There is little to no awareness of the brand in the marketplace.
You need to maximise every opportunity to raise awareness of what you do, online and offline. Marketing (in the right places for your audience) is key to getting your message out, over and above your competition. It takes an average of 7 times for a customer to connect with a brand before they buy-in.
6. Internal disagreement and lack of organisation lead to brand and customer service dysfunction.
Aligning your brand internally is a must. Everyone staff member/associate should know your why and your leadership team should support this. This increases staff motivation, as well as client confidence in your brand and service offering.
7. The brand and the organisation behind it have become complacent for far too long, not keeping up with consumer needs and industry.
The world is fast. We are all busy and it is easy to fall behind. If your brand falls behind, it is hard to catch up. Your industry will grow, markets will change, new competitors will arise and passionate start ups will be competing through their fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Your business may grow into new areas to respond to market demand, which can ‘blur’ the meaning of your brand. Having a regular brand check is key to analyse market growth and changes, so that everything you do goes back to your purpose. As Michael Beirut says ‘it isn’t about the splash a logo makes, it’s about how long it can keep it’s head above water’. It’s about longevity.
8. ‘Making do’ or ‘quick fix solutions’
Anyone can design a logo. A ‘quick fix’ solution is not a brand. You may get away with is for so long, but it will soon catch up with you as it will lack strategy. A rebrand is an opportunity to build a strong relationship with your designer/consultant, who will understand your business and define your goals and audience. Acting as an extension of your team in this way will create strong and bold visual results.
9. Marketing budgets are not always high, leaving the brand vulnerable.
Once you have your brand foundations, the output can be as expensive as you want it to be. Bigger budgets do not always mean bigger impact. People buy real, integrity, and passion. Brewdog are a great example. In the beginning they had major impact on minimal budget because they crafted their difference. Always take opportunities to share your knowledge with your audience. Online advertising is more accessible than ever. Have a clear strategy in place going forward that fits your budget.
10. The brand’s architecture is unorganised and confused.
It is inevitable that your business will change (although the purpose/core should always remain) a 6 monthly/yearly brand check will help maintain organisation, understand structure, analyse emerging competition and look for future growth opportunities.
Recap on what makes a strong brand
- A clear mission and purpose
- Understands and leverages its uniqueness
- Clear target market
- Consistent on-brand messaging
- Continues to build strong relationships
- Forward thinking and open to change
A brand is no longer only about a mark or a logo. It is everything you and your company does. A brand is about emotional reaction, and perception of your customers. People want genuine, they want quality, they want passionate, they want real and they want integrity. The perception of your business defines your brand.
By being consistent, engaging, open, honest and congruent, you can start to build a successful and trusted brand. Your business should live and breathe your mission, purpose and values, internally and externally. These are what set you apart. Aligning these will give you strong foundations and confidence for your brand moving forward.