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GAP, the clothing brand, had decided to change its logo design from the classic blue square to a more contemporary look. What followed was a wave of brutal backlash. Customers were furious with the new logo since it did not have the same brand appeal as the previous logo had. Looking at the negative responses, the brand went back to its original design, costing them a lot more money.

To make sure that your brand doesn’t incur such unnecessary losses, here are ten branding mistakes you can NOT afford to make:

1. Inconsistency across different channels

The basic requirement for successful branding is consistency. The minute your brand appears to have an inconsistent theme, it will fail to deliver its purpose. It creates confusion for customers in understanding your brand offering.

An inconsistent theme affects your brand recall. The reason why Ferrari is associated with speed because it has been consistent with its theme. If you fail to create a strong brand recall, it will be very difficult for you to grab customer attention in an otherwise cluttered market.

Customers find it hard to trust you when your brand comes off as unorganized. It will be hard to gain traction since nobody wants to be associated with a brand that is unprofessional, disjointed and untrustworthy.

2. Attaching your brand to the wrong affiliations

Be careful when attaching your brand to something or someone. Having partners that have no relevance to your brand might backfire. When you try to forcibly mesh with another brand that has a different value system than you, the customer sees you as untrustworthy and inconsistent.

When choosing a brand affiliation, make sure that you do your background research. Look at how these cross promotional relationships will benefit your brand, at the same time, making sure your brand doesn’t lose its essence.

When Brad Pitt was chosen as the brand ambassador for Chanel No. 5 perfume, the brand came under huge scrutiny. Customers blazed their fury on the Hollywood actor because the brand had always been endorsed by female celebrities. This was a huge letdown, especially among the brand’s female audience.

3. Branding without a brand manual

A brand manual is a document that contains guidelines, plan of actions, deliverables, methodologies, and everything in the middle. Anything that’s part of your branding has to be a part of your manual. This document will assist you in making sure you are on the right track. Moreover, it helps to bring team members on the same page.

These are some of the elements your brand manual definitely should have:

  • Logo designs
  • Brand colors
  • Taglines
  • Brand objectives
  • Imagery
  • Positioning
  • Brand differentiators

4. Rolling out brand changes poorly

If you believe that rebranding is a gamble, you are swimming in dangerous waters. A lack of research and understanding of your current market can lead you to implement brand changes that do not resonate well with the core audience.

It takes just 10 seconds for customers to form the first impression of your new logo. That’s the bandwidth you have to work within. It will take only one glance for customers to reject your logo if they do not find it more enticing than the previous one.

Before officially launching the brand changes, do a demo run. Take a focus group and listen to them. Their reactions can highlight the elements that make the new changes less enticing.

5. Being scrooge-like

Many businesses try to penny-pinch when it comes to their branding. Yes, you should limit your overheads costs, but you cannot expect to cut down on integral elements of your branding. Small businesses try to limit their spending on their office space without realizing that it’s the first thing clients will judge them on.

If clients walk into your office and are made to sit on a broken chair, they would have serious doubts about your brand. In the effort to cut cost you just lost a client.

This doesn’t just limit to clients, it even goes for your employees. If you don’t properly invest in your workplace ergonomics, you tend to have a low brand equity among your organization itself.

Moreover, such work environments lead to 40% of injuries among employees. That means long leaves of employee absence, thereby leading to a higher cost, which has a direct impact on your branding budgets as well.

6. Too much focus on product/services

Often, brands try too hard to connect with customers by focusing on products. It’s very short-term approach, which hardly ever shows any desirable results. To make your brand more sustainable, engage your audience by telling them about the benefits, rather than the features.

Let customers know how your brand can help in satisfying their needs. This allows for a richer brand experience for customers. You can create content that addresses customer pain points and gives information on how your can possibly help solve these issues. The customer sees a higher utility in your brand.

As the customer queries change, so should your pitch. This helps you to reduce your churn rates and increase engagement. To keep tabs on retrieving genuine grievances, keep measuring customer satisfaction. This way you can customize your brand offering based on the current issues faced by customers.

7. Putting everything on auto response

Those out of context auto responses harm your brand more than you can imagine. The problem lies when brands try to disguise automation as a human activity. Such acts make you seem untrustworthy. This is one of the reasons why 60% of the implementation of automation fail, only because brands base their interactions on an auto response.

Brands become stronger through genuine engagement and weaker through bad perceptions. In both cases, the solution is striking up an interactive conversation. Your brand is able to build a strong relationship, at the same time, address any negative remarks. This requires the brand to be emphatic and have high emotional intelligence, both which an auto response cannot deliver.

8. Ignoring brand ageing signs

Some brands age like wine, while some are stuck in a time capsule. When your brand is busy reminiscing the old days, you tend to forget your present positioning. Unfortunately, it’s usually the brand owners who are the last to realize that the brand has gone past its time.

To keep your brand fresh and in tune with today’s time, monitor the brand through collecting feedback. The insights will help you make the changes, whether that be your product line, leadership, positioning or image.

9. Not understanding a brand’s capability

No one will be more passionate about your brand than you – agreed. But, you have to be realistic regarding your brand’s capability. A lack of perspective might lead you to make claims without taking reality into account.

Overpromising and under delivering can impact the survival of your brand. When Microsoft announced the launch of its operating system Vista, everyone was excited. The software company had made huge claims, positioning the OS as the next level in innovation.

Unfortunately, once it was rolled out, it started having compatibility issues, drawing harsh criticism, which eventually resulted in shutting down all operations relating to Vista.

10. Taking visuals casually

Brands often try to take the visuals very casually since they don’t have a direct relationship with sales. Though that might be true, visuals are very powerful elements to create perceptions and increase engagement. A study shows the input we get from our eyes, a sensory organ has a big role in shaping and breaking our perceptions.

A casual approach to visuals may lead to one or all of the following:

  • Low-quality images – In a world of HD, poor quality images will make you seem shady and incompetent.
  • Low brand recall value – Boring visuals will be not be retained by customers. This results in weak brand associations.
  • Wrong brand color – Each color has a meaning. If you are brand related to extreme sports, instead of using Red (represents adrenalin), you choose Green (represents calmness) – your brand will not have the same impact.

Winding up

These mistakes can really damage your brand from where there is no coming back. Learn from them to avoid these blunders in the future. As they say ‘Mistakes are meant for learning not repeating’.


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