Your organization's brand is more important than you might realize. Branding is not the "voodoo of marketers" but the total impression of everything you are as an organization. In a nutshell, it is the essence of who you are as an organization. It communicates your promise to those who engage with you, your attitude, and even your worldview.
Communicating your brand is essential to success; not doing so can be disastrous. Here are the most critical brand mistakes you should avoid:
Assume your target audience understands your brand promise.
Whether you manufacture guitars or lead a local nonprofit, you must always fight the insidious thought of familiarity. Just because you have been around for a while or just because you might have a large building, your target audience understands and even cares what you have to offer. Successful brands know they need to continually tell their story to an ever-growing population faced with an increasingly noisy and crowded world.
Assume that even those closest to you, your consumers or constituents, understand your brand promise.
This one is tough to swallow for leaders. Yet, we would like to believe that those who have "bought" into our vision understand what we do and offer.
Unfortunately, that's most often not true.
Even in my agency, I see brand confusion. The A Group has two divisions: marketing and technology. Some of our technology clients act surprised to learn we do high-end, research-driven marketing. In contrast, some of our marketing-only clients sometimes say, "I had no idea your company had such sophisticated digital tools." That's not on them. It's on us. We live with the day-to-day dynamics of our microcosm and fail to be intentional in communicating the complete scope of what we offer.
Fail to create transferable and memorable ways for your brand ambassadors to share your brand promise to their network.
This group loves your organization and its products, services, or experiences and is more than willing to let their network know about you. However, brands often fail to create simple and effective ways in which these ambassadors can be successful. Creating messaging around your offerings that are easy to remember and easily shared will give your brand messengers an easy way to share your message with their network. Left alone, people will focus only on what’s important to them and not necessarily on the heart and soul of your organization.
Create brand promises that are not fulfilled by your product or services.
This is not only a mistake but a mortal sin for brands. Making claims or promises you cannot deliver on is deadly. I learned this lesson the hard way in my early days of consulting, even before I started The A Group. I had designed a direct mail piece that made specific claims about the quality of experience and production for an event. Another organization putting on a similar type of production asked me to design something very similar and with the same claims. Since they were in different cities and several weeks apart, I obliged. Both pieces were successful in driving people to the event. However, the "copy-cat" event had the claims, but not the infrastructure to deliver on the promises.
It was a fiasco. I heard that people were not only disappointed, but they were also angry. So please don't look at someone else's design or claims and adopt it because you like it. In the real world, people expect to get what you promised them in your promotion.
If you want to read more on branding, Click here to understand some of the elements that make up a solid brand.
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