Having done brand development for the past 20 years, it is a cause of amazement to find how frequently most companies use other creative or advertising avatars as stand-ins for a true brand. If you are a marketing consultant, odds are high you have heard these top excuses for branding.
Here are the top 10 Fallacies of Branding heard from clients, and a “tough love” (TL) response.
Fallacy #1: I’ve/we’ve been in business a long time – my customers know what we stand for.
TL: Please show us your data. Because we bet they don’t. If we talk to 10 customers about you, we will get 10 different answers. We will. We know this because we’ve never done a brand project where customers responded how executives thought they would respond. Some of the customer responses you won’t like. And most likely, what they actually think of you isn’t quite (or at all) what you’d like them to think of you.
Fallacy #2: We have a logo done (by the CEO’s nephew), and that is our brand.
TL: What is the meaning behind the logo? Is there a story? What is it meant to convey? What is your promise to your customers that they will experience each and every time they connect with you? Is your logo hinting at that promise? When your customers see that logo, do they immediately know what to expect? Do they even recognize the logo? Does the color of the logo convey meaning about your brand? Can customers name your company when they see the logo? Is the logo original and differentiated?
Fallacy #3: We have a website and that is our brand.
TL: How does your website operationalize your promise to your customers? Does what your website says match with what you are trying to deliver? Is the website an offshoot of your brand position, promise, personality and core messages? (And are those written down anywhere so you can leverage these across all your communications?) What kind of brand experience do you customers have when they visit?
Fallacy #4: We have an advertising campaign, and our brand is communicated through that.
TL: Oh, you have a brand campaign? How does this campaign move the needle on your customer’s brand experience? Is it building brand loyalty? Is it moving you higher in their consideration set? How does it communicate your brand promise? Are you resonating emotionally? How do you know? Or… is your campaign really a product campaign or leads generation campaign?
Fallacy #5: Our CEO has created our mission, vision and guiding principles, and that’s our brand.