This guest post was written by Carole Neal. Please see author bio at the end of the post.
What is branding?
Often, when we think of branding, a recognizable logo, slogan or even actor might quickly come to mind for our favorite product.
In fact, I bet you could still sing the theme song for your one of your favorite childhood treats. (Go ahead, hum along right now.)
Branding is a set of marketing strategy and tactics to help distinguish your company from your competitors in the eyes of customers. Branding can involve logos, slogans, advertising and social media.
Your company’s brand should reflect your company’s mission, values, and, most importantly, your brand should connect with your audience.
Just like how you know what to expect when you walk into your favorite coffee shop, your customers want to know what to expect from your brand at every interaction. Your brand reputation means everything!
But all too often, even the best brands commit these common, but devastating, “branding blunders.”
Here are 4 common branding blunders and tips on how to avoid them.
Change, Change, Change
Every time you change the branding, you risk losing traction with your customer base.
At the same time, companies evolve and, sometimes, you need to update your brand to reflect a new direction.
TIP: Ensure that branding updates remain aligned with your company’s mission and try to take into account any (known) future aspirations.Make sure any branding updates are aligned with your company's mission. Click To Tweet
Out of touch
Know your target audience!
What is their profile? What are their concerns? How do they use your product or service?
TIP: Use information about your target audience to help shape the messaging to communicate more effectively with your audience.Know your target audience and shape your messaging around them. Click To Tweet
Knowing what to expect from your brand helps build trust with your customers.
Ensure consistency in your branding across all communications–including online properties, and both external and internal communications.
Consistency refers to the brand voice that you use (ex. formal, playful, etc.), colors, fonts, imagery, and even how often you communicate with your customers.
TIP: Whatever you decide, be consistent so your customers can build that trust with your brand.Brand consistency = trust. Be consistent! Click To Tweet
Head in the sand
We’ve all seen it happen. Someone goes on a rant or does something inappropriate and it goes viral on social media–creating a public relations nightmare.
But now is not the time to “stick your head in the sand.”
TIP: Address the issue as quickly as possible to manage the potential damage to your brand. How your company handles the situation is as much a reflection on your brand as any logo or theme song.Don't stick your head in the sand. When it comes to PR nightmares, deal with it head on. Click To Tweet
While this post discusses branding for a company, many of these same branding strategies apply to your personal brand, as well.
Ensure that your professional and personal brands are aligned with your interests and values. Be thoughtful and deliberate in what you email, post, like or tweet under your public persona and make sure that settings on any private accounts are, in fact, private.
One of my favorite mantras is: “If I would be embarrassed to see my comments as tomorrow’s headlines, I don’t email, post, like, or tweet it.”
Branding is an evolutionary process where you adjust to the needs of your company, customers and marketplace. Your organization’s target audience, goals and aspirations help set your branding strategy and direction. As you prepare for the next step, take a moment to think about what you can learn from the brands doing it right and those that missed the mark.
In the words of one iconic brand, Just Do It!
Photo credit: © Zimmytws | Dreamstime.com
About the Author
Carole Neal has 15+ years marketing and branding experience with Fortune 500 companies. She currently manages the marketing and branding strategy for a $4 Billion product portfolio and has expertise in digital strategy, launching new products and customer relationship management (CRM). Carole is actively involved within the community and serves in a leadership role with several Los Angeles area non-profits. She recently was a featured speaker for CLU’s chapter of Net Impact, the first online chapter in the nation, exclusive to CLU students.