Your brand, while intangible, is one of the most important assets your business holds. The reputation of your business, and how widely this reputation can be spread amongst your target audience, will have a massive impact on your long-term profits, and certainly isn’t something you can afford to ignore.
Unfortunately, many businesses carry on struggling forward with a brand that’s much weaker than it could be. Like many things, this is almost always the business’s own fault! If you’re concerned about the strength of your brand, here are some of the ways you could be killing it.
Believing Your Work Speaks for Itself
Wouldn’t it be nice if all businesses were judged on the merits of their work, rather than anything else? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There are a couple of issues with this belief.
First of all, the bulk of your customers aren’t going to be experts in your industry, and won’t be able to make a fair judgment on the quality and integrity of the work you do. You don’t see consumers critiquing a given business in the same way that another business owner does.
Secondly, even if they take an active interest in everything your business does, this doesn’t mean that they’re going to be actively spreading the word, and stimulating visibility for your brand. This is your job, and needs to be achieved through well thought-out marketing campaigns. The quality of your work alone unfortunately isn’t enough to build a brand on.
Thinking Your Customers Are Different
It’s okay to love your existing customer base. After all, without these people, your business would have faltered in its first few months of trading, and you probably wouldn’t be reading this article!
However, believing that your customers are somehow unique for choosing your brand, and using this to justify waiving established marketing conventions, is a big mistake. Yes, we’re all unique, and our behaviors are influenced majorly by our individual backgrounds and personalities.
Having said that, the large majority of consumers have measurable behavioral trends that vary from industry to industry. Even if your product or service means you’ll be marketing to a very specific niche, there are going to be some patterns you can pick up on.
No matter what kind of values or qualities bind your customer base together, these people are always going to make emotional decisions, and back them up with hard, logical facts. If you overlook this, and treat your marketing strategy accordingly, it’s certainly going to come back to bite you.
“Anyone Can Use Our Product/Service”
Just like the quality standards you apply in your business’s work, you can’t rely on the versatility of your product or service to carry your brand. This is an extremely common and damaging belief that a lot of business owners tend to adopt. Yes, it may be technically true that everyone could use your product or service.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should be marketing to everyone under the sun. Talk to anyone at a premier digital marketing agency, and they’ll affirm that if you try to sell to everyone, you can easily wind up selling to no one. This mistake is especially prevalent amongst tech start-ups and B2B (business-to-business) accounting firms.
Don’t list countless demographics and buyer personas, and try to treat all of them as your company’s specialty. This is only going to dilute your efforts to strengthen your brand, and in some cases, blot out the various strengths that your business actually does have.
Decide on just one or two target demographics that you really excel at marketing to, and then devote more of your resources to these. You can’t be everyone’s go-to brand for a certain product or service, so don’t try!
Dividing Your Marketing Budget Equally Between Your Partners
An increasing number of small and medium businesses have several owners, usually known as partners, who will hold considerable influence over many of the decisions made by the business. With different people making big decisions, all with their own varying interests, you may be afraid of any kind of conflict.
This fear can often lead to CEOs dividing their available marketing resources between all the partners equally. In many cases, this simply leads to a chaotic and confusing mixture of messages, and ultimately, dilution of your brand.
Some firms will even find themselves in a position where they have more than one logo, more than one website, and no kind of consistent positioning or brand identity.
Modelling Your Marketing Strategy on Your Closest Competitor’s
Isn’t the reassurance of running with the pack nice? It seems that more and more business owners are allowing their branding materials to be dictated by their closest competitor’s. This is why you see so many websites that follow the same design sensibilities, and why so many brands try to use differentiators that are horribly ineffective.
There may be a certain comfort and reassurance in taking cues from your competitors, but you need to be wary of this. Fitting in with the other players in your niche can be an exceedingly risky marketing strategy.
If you do a little digging, you’ll find that it’s the businesses that use strong and clearly communicated differentiators are the ones that grow efficiently, and are able to maintain a strong, unique brand in the long run.
If you don’t make a point to separate all your branding materials from your closest competitor’s, you’ll quickly become one more drop in a vast ocean.
All business owners think about the strength of their brand, but it’s only the ones who really understand it that win. If you’ve been making any of these branding blunders, or you’re starting to see them on the horizon when you look at your marketing team’s work, it’s time to turn things around.
Build a strong brand, and you’ll be amazed at where it can take you!