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5 Common Branding Mistakes & How To Avoid Them6 min read

6 min read

Brand messaging is the art of talking to your customers in a way that compels them to relate to your brand – and ultimately, buy your products or services.  Unfortunately, and despite good intentions, there are plenty of common mistakes companies make when it comes to their messaging. If you can diagnose your brand with one of these following problems, it’s never too late to make amends.

Neglecting your target audience

Despite the name, branding is just as much about your business as it is about your customers. Importantly, it’s about those customers that are most likely to engage with your brand and buy your products. If your message isn’t resonating as it should be, go back to basics: put your target audience first and find ways to show them that they are your main priority. 64% of people cite shared values as the main reason for supporting a brand, so it pays to understand what’s important to your audience.

When Coca-Cola ran its ‘share a coke’ campaign, it saw an increase of 2 percent in sales worldwide, taking daily consumption from 1.7 to 1.9 billion servings per day. That’s just one example of how a brand message can be wildly successful when it allows audiences to actively participate. While your brand might not be as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola, it’s always worth finding ways you can invite your customers to actively interact with your products or services.

It’s also important to ensure your brand advocates (those customers who really, really like you) are getting the attention they deserve. Feature them on your blog, reach out and shout them to lunch or a coffee, invite them to special business events or ask them to be the first to try your latest product. If they have an established social following of their own, even better: consider how they can be used as influencers for your brand and grow your audience ever further.

Force feeding your tagline and brand name

Most companies spend a considerable amount of time coming up with the perfect brand name and that impeccable tagline, so it’s no surprise that the first instinct might be to stuff it absolutely everywhere. Unfortunately, forcing those names and phrases down everyone’s throats won’t do you any favours.

Instead, talk with your audience rather than at them. Adopt a style that lets you approach your messaging as if you were mates with your customers, and create audience personas so you can replicate their natural language. There’s no need to abandon your tag line, but let it sit quietly where your audience can discover it for themselves after you’ve engaged them with a more natural style of communication.

Being overtly salesy

A McKinsey study shows that as many as 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. So how are you treating your customers?

If you’re being overly salesy you can just about guarantee your customers know it, and don’t appreciate it. People are switched on and hyper aware of when they’re being sold to, so assuming your audiences are anything but media savvy is a poor move that can make them feel like you don’t have much respect for them, and think of them only as streams of income.

They are also aware that you want to ultimately make a sale, so it’s all about treading that line between being cloyingly ‘buddy-buddy’ and pushing your sales too much. Allow their journey of brand discovery to be based on context and intent, giving them a chance to experience your company and its personality before giving them the option to make a purchase.

Being too safe

You can almost imagine the look on some faces when someone first came up with the idea to have a man in a gorilla suit playing the drums as a means to sell more chocolate bars. It was a gamble and one that paid off big time, with the now-famous Fallon London campaign reportedly resulting in a 5 percent revenue growth for Cadbury in 2007.

As the story goes, Cadbury wanted to take a step away from their usual brand messaging, and start to simply make people feel good. They went out on a limb and the payoff was huge.

The moral of the story here is to never be too safe. If you have an interesting proposition or USP, don’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops – digital or otherwise. In fact, having something special to make you stand out is critical to engagement and awareness.

Find the one main thing that makes you different from your competitors, and put it at the forefront of your brand messaging.

Trying to dictate what’s popular

There’s no point in flogging a dead horse – or trying to make ‘fetch’ happen – when your customers just don’t want a bar of it. If you have a new product or service that everyone is excited about internally but is shaping up to be a flop when introduced to the market, it’s most likely time to let it go.

Take the example of Google Glass. Business Insider predicted it would sell 3 million units in 2016 (and 21 million units by the end of 2018), but the product bombed. Unfortunately for Google, a mixture of poor aesthetics and ill-informed marketing decisions made their next big thing a spectacular failure. So, what did they do right? They accepted defeat and pulled them off the shelves well before 2016.

For any business, it’s crucial to use data to inform your decision making. When it comes to content marketing, start by using tools that help you measure popularity and engagement. For example, Buzzsumo analyses what content is performing best across any topic. Google Trends offers great insights into the popularity of search terms, and Hashtagify gives you information on trending hashtags. While these tools are most useful for content, they can also provide valuable insight into the broader needs of your customers.

Ultimately, brand messaging should be a lot of common sense. Put your audience first, don’t push your sales message too far, and don’t allow the fear of failure to stop you from showing your unique flair within the market. What’s more, remember that when the realities and pressures of day-to-day business set in, mistakes can and will happen. The key is to consciously identify and rectify them as soon as they arise, and you’ll be on the path to becoming your own branding success story.

For more advice on how to grow your brand, get in touch with the team at Croud.