It’s a tough world out there. Customers are demanding, competition is keen, stakes are high, Trump is president and Tamagotchis are now selling for $300.
Life as we know it is changing. Long gone are the days when customers would decide between two different bottles of water at the corner store. The marketplace is booming and choice seemingly exploding. Businesses are having to compete on entirely new levels of stardom — shipping hot meals to your doorstep in under ten minutes, lavishing random and extravagant freebies. Heck, I even saw a business the other day offering an open bar for all, complete with performers. Snazzy!
So what does this mean for your brand? You need a tight ship, my friend. To create a standout biz requires everything that you produce to clearly speak one key message with a succinct look, set against everything that you produce. As a brand, there are few things more important than clearly defining who you are, what your mission is, and why your brand matters to the consumer.
But what if your brand is tight, and you’re still sinking like the Titantic? Well, I hate to break it, but there are some things that branding just cannot simply fix.
Good design does not automatically equal good business. It can make your brand beautiful, give it credibility and increase interest, sure. However, it is but a band-aid if your deeper business issues are not swiftly resolved.
In the last fifteen years or so, the term ‘brand’ has evolved from simply differentiating types of toothpaste to being the imperative buzzword of business necessity it is today. A ‘brand’ is a whole lot more than the four options of paper towel at your local supermarket. And the stronger your brand, the better. But that doesn’t mean that re-branding your enterprise is a quick fix for all that ails.
The last thing you want is rattling your customers with empty promises — clever branding that isn’t backed by strong business foundations. Expectations are everything. And if you’re not meeting your customer’s expectations, you’re not creating loyal connections.
- A BORING PRODUCT
A $35 swoosh didn’t make the Nike brand worth billions. A corporate identity doesn’t mean jack until a brand makes it worth something. If what you’re offering under-performs, doesn’t solve real problems or doesn’t entertain your audience, it’s likely that sprucing up your branding won’t get you any inch closer to success.
- SKELETONS IN YOUR CLOSET
Businesses need to remember that just because they shout something loudly, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Your brand needs to be an honest, authentic representation of who you are, credibly informed by your inner essence. If you’re using branding to hide the skeletons in your closet or to misrepresent the true customer experience, you might need to think again. Fix what’s really broken, first, then worry about your facade.
- A POOR STRATEGY
Slapping a pretty new face on a business that lacks strategy, story and smarts does nothing.It actually makes things worse because you set your customers up with false expectations and they’ll only walk away feeling let down. Branding shouldn’t replace good strategy and smart planning — you need the trifecta!
- A WEAK WHY
Dave Ramsey said, ‘Without a mission statement, you may get to the top of the ladder and then realise it was leaning against the wrong building!’ People actually look at your visual branding; in fact, it’s the first thing they generally see. If they are planning on investing money in you, especially if you are selling a premium product or service, they also look at the way you do business and what values you exude. People want to do business with those aligned to the same causes they are passionate about. So make your ‘why’ extraordinarily clear.
- A CONFUSED OFFERING
We all know that a small business should not be all things to all people and only failed products try to please every man and his dog. It’s imperative to ensure that your brand meaning is 100% in sync with your organisation and its offerings. You wouldn’t sell Coke advertised are cold-pressed pineapple juice, so why would you confuse your audience by selling them something you’re not?