Branding is what is different about two choices.
Branding is what helps people decide what to do or buy.
It’s part of our business and commercial life, but it’s also part of our personal lives as well. When we choose a spouse, for example, part of what we choose is their brand.
I’m a big believer that actions make the brand. What you do is how people perceive you in the long run. What you do allows people to decide whether to choose your or to choose another option.
Things like logos help people connect experiences and actions with the proper choice. But the logos and the names are much less important in branding than the actions of the people.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the common branding mistakes businesspeople make.
And I’ve certainly made some of them and will probably continue to make them…
1. Take Mindset
The take mindset is looking to take something from the other party. In the case of branding, it’s trying to take from customers most often. But could also be from sellers, employees, etc.
On social media you’ll often see the take mindset in the form of too much selling. Companies that only post information about what they’re selling on social media. They may try to disguise the information as helpful and their product may in fact me helpful, but it’s still selling and it’s a turn off in most cases.
Obviously selling is necessary in business. I’m a fan of it. I love it. But people are only in buying mode about 3% of the time. The rest of the time they are still looking for entertainment and education and companies can give that to them if they want to.
As a company, give 97% of the time without expecting anything in return.
2. Lack Of Self Awareness
If you don’t understand what your company represents it’s incredibly difficult if not impossible to effectively communicate what your brand is.
If you feel that your brand is damaged, for example, you can’t figure out how to fix it if you don’t understand what’s going on with the company and the actions of the people.
An important step in any branding process is figuring out who the company is and how that was created by its long-term actions.
The biggest brand blunders of all time almost always result from a form of deceit. People don’t like being let down, but they will forgive it. What they almost never forgive is deceit.
There is a golfer, Matt Kuchar, who has tried to deceit people into thinking he is the ultimate boy next door. The ultimate nice guy. Recently stories have come to light about things he has done that are petty, cheap, unkind and more.
Now, nobody is perfect. The key is to accept your true self and understand your negative tendencies.
The issue people have with Kuchar is not that he is cheap and petty. It’s that he tried to deceit golf fans into thinking he was the ultimate boy next door.
The better route to take would be to accept that he has some flaws and that he also is trying to improve as a human by being nice and kind in many situations.
If you’re trying to hide things it can be very dangerous. It can work for awhile, but almost always fails in the long-term and the longer a deceit goes on the bigger the blow up usually is.
4. Lack Of Feedback Regarding Perception
It’s difficult to understand your brand if you shut off all feedback. Now, you don’t have to take everything everybody says about you to heart. But you have to listen to it and understand why people feel that way and figure out how that fits into your overall brand perception.
Perception is reality. How people feel about your company is the reality whether it’s true or not. When you seek out feedback and understand the perception of your brand you can find ways to better communicate and act so that the perception meets the truth.
5. Putting Words Above Actions
In marketing and selling companies will often use fancy words. Even a word like “best” is virtually meaningless in the marketing world. People don’t even comprehend the word when they see it in sales situations. They know to look at the actions to figure out if they should make this choice.
Look at the actions of the people in your company. If something is wrong, fix it. Also use the actions to figure out wording for sales and marketing copy.
6. Misunderstanding The Entire Experience With Your Actions
The entire experience with your company is the branding experience. It’s customers, but also employees, influencers, etc. Every action you and the people at your company take forms what your brand is.
If you misunderstand any part of it there is potential for issues. Trying to gain a better understanding of the entire branding experience seems to be a key to successful organizations.
7. Creating Confusion
Companies often get in trouble when they try to come up with new names, logos, designs, catch phrases and that kind of thing. Those are important, but they’re only important when you understand what your brand is by understanding your actions.
And even if you understand what your brand is you can still cause confusion.
A recent example is from the golf world again. The PGA Tour recently came out with a new slogan that is Live Under Par. Golf fans don’t really know what it means. It’s just added more confusion to an already confusing brand.
In branding, marketing and sales, most often you’re better off simplifying things than adding things. Instead of adding a new slogan or logo, look to remove a slogan or logo. Make it more simple for the public to understand what you are.
8. Breaking Promises & Trust
One of the most basic human needs is trust. Kids often lose part of their innocence each time someone, usually their parents, break a promise.
As a company, it’s no different. Obviously breaking promises is inevitable. We’re all human after all. But be careful with the promises you make and when you make promises do everything you can to keep them.
9. Putting Short-Term Ahead Of Long-Term
This is broad. The general takeaway is that when you make a decision that leads to short-term gain and the potential long-term detriment, you’re hurting your brand reputation.
It’s basic life. The ability to put something off today in return for the possibility of a better tomorrow.
An example might be not giving a customer a refund. Keeping the money might be the best option in the short-term. But in the long-term, refunding the money could lead to employees making better decisions, attracting more of the right kind of customers and more.
From strategy to strategy, identity to identify. Many companies lurch and when you’re in a mode where you’re changing often it’s usually negative for your brand and also for your business in general.
Branding isn’t the most important thing in business, but it is important. Being aware of who you are and how others perceive you is a constant practice. But those that embrace it seem to be the ones that create the best brands over the long-term. And as a result, they attract the most customers.