When it comes to the world of branding, success is contingent upon your ability as a storyteller. But, you aren’t just delivering a narrative. You’re also writing, acting, producing, and publishing.
There’s a lot of work and diligence involved in maintaining any brand, and it’s easy to see how a brand can lose focus when the responsibilities are so manifold. If you’re serious about creating and maintaining a brand that offers your customers a compelling story, there are four pitfalls you have to know to avoid in order to achieve success.
Who Are You?
If you don’t know the answer to this question, I guarantee you that no one else does. Ask yourself this question before you launch your brand, after you launch your brand, and then every day afterwards. At the risk of sounding excessive, I want to encourage you to bring your team together on a weekly basis to discuss what the brand is.
Branding is a story. “Who” you are changes.
While you want to maintain a core, that core has to be susceptible to slight (and sometimes major) adjustments. Plenty of companies lose focus of who they are, and find themselves back at the drawing boards in order to re-brand.
One of the most obvious examples of this kind of re-branding is Apple. Have you seen the clothing line they used for promoting the company? ‘80s fashion aside, this company has undergone some serious re-branding since being on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1990s. And, it doesn’t happen without introspection.
You Lack Regularity.
One of the biggest hurdles of maintaining an effective brand is exercising your voice regularly. This can be especially tough for smaller businesses. While the Internet is abuzz about major companies like Delta and Barneys New York hiring professional Instagram photographers, you’re just trying to post to Twitter three times a day. As a small business, we get it.
However, when you don’t consistently make a statement about your brand, you aren’t setting yourself up for success. Pick your avenues, whether it’s a blog, newsletter, Twitter, or anything else, and stick with it.
You’re Trying to Do Too Much.
You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. Your company can’t either. When you try to do too much, you confuse your customer base, and your brand gets lost in all the muddled sound. This problem is largely two-fold.
Offering too many products or services.
Whether you have a small or large customer base, throwing too many options at them can be disorienting. It’s hard enough to buy a jar of mayonnaise at the grocery store. Don’t let your company’s products and services look like the mayonnaise aisle.
Just because you can offer more than the competition it does not follow that you are better than the competition. When your offerings are limited to a particular scope, you can give your brand more focus and attention, thereby strengthening it.
Trying to reach too wide a customer base.
The second issue in this category is when you focus on too large a customer base. These problems frequently go hand in hand though. When you limit your offerings, you can limit your audience. Once you have that target audience more precisely defined, you can work hard to get the best results from it.
Don’t let these suggestions scare you. Chances are, if your offerings or audience is too broad, one or a few of your categories dominate your sales. By nixing the areas that don’t align with your brand, you free yourself up to focus on the more profitable, brand-oriented aspects of your company.
You Talk To Your Customers. Not With Them.
Remember, your customers are central in helping you define your brand. After all, you aren’t defined just by who you are or what you sell; you’re largely defined by the people who buy your product. Without them, the show doesn’t go on. When you treat your customers like team members instead of mere objects or recipients, you’ll find two things.
One, you’ll find that you have a better idea of what your brand is. By engaging with customers, you participate in a story.
Two, you’ll find that you have more power in directing the course of that story. When you have an active presence with your brand, your voice becomes the guiding power.
How do you ensure that your brand stays focused? When you get off track, what methods help you bring focus back to the forefront?