Top Ten Branding Mistakes

Brad VanAuken The Blake ProjectSeptember 27, 20103 min

In our brand consulting work at The Blake Project we have identified the top ten branding mistakes. Have you witnessed any of these?

1. Not being consistent in what the brand stands for. Often, a brand’s management does not have the discipline to stick to one message over time. The message changes frequently depending on the audience, the issue of the moment and what competitors are saying.

2. Not standing for anything. Often, organizations grow through mergers and acquisitions. Sometimes, the acquired companies and brands have little in common.  They can vary significantly in quality and responsiveness and needs met. There is no common thread holding them together.

3. Not delivering a good value for the price paid. We have worked with more than one brand whose managers have gotten greedy and increased prices while decreasing quality and service levels. This is not the formula for long-term success.

4. The CEO just doesn’t get or support branding. We have interacted with CEOs that just don’t get branding. Some have said to us, “I don’t see why our brand has to be unique and differentiated if we produce quality products? Isn’t that enough?”

5. Focusing on product features and attributes rather than customer benefits and shared values.  It is more powerful and sustainable for brands to connect with their customers at the benefit and values level. Attributes and features are less emotionally compelling and much easier for competitors to match and exceed.

6. Thinking it is enough to say that “we are the quality, service or innovation leader. “ These are overused phrases that people disregard as being typical “chest beating.” Rather than claiming to be the leader in these, strive through your actions to be the definitive leader in these.

7.  Making a promise but then not delivering on it. Consider BP as an example. It is better to have not made the promise than to have made it and then clearly not delivered on it.

8.  Not understanding who your customer is or how your brand could appeal to him or her. Some organizations have not figured out who their target customers are or what really motivates them. They sell products but they really don’t have much customer insight. One cannot create a strong brand without deep customer insight.

9. Not innovating. We have encountered many brands that rest on their laurels. They offered revolutionary products at one time but the competition has long since surpassed them. In the long run, the strongest brands in the land can’t compensate for mediocre products that are not keeping up with competitive offerings.

10. Not supporting the brand with resources. We are amazed at how many organizations want strong brands but recently laid off their brand managers and slashed their marketing budgets.  How do they expect to build strong brands without adequate resources?

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Brad VanAuken The Blake Project


  • Christopher

    September 27, 2010 at 10:21 am

    #7 is on my hotlist at the moment. I think this tendency is at the heart of why branding, marketing, advertising, and all other related industries get such a bad rap.

  • Simon Gornick

    September 28, 2010 at 12:37 am

    #3 seems to be quite popular these days. Sadly, I’m not sure if it’s quite the brand killer it used to be. I suppose another way of looking at it would be to say that if people will pay exorbitant prices, it shows the brand’s true value.

  • Phill Barufkin

    September 28, 2010 at 9:58 am

    It sure does make sense that more indelible brands have stronger connections to consumers. However, it is up to the company to keep the brand up-to-date and to remain relevant. It takes a lot of effort to earn the respect of a consumer and very little to lose them.

  • Lauren Daitsh

    October 5, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Consistent focus and consistent action seperates winners from the not so winners. There is just no substitute for it. Brands will not just take off from day one. There is just not enough time and space here to discuss all the calescenics. But Focus is key.

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