Branding is a critical aspect of any business, and it is essential to establish a strong brand identity to achieve success. However, building a successful brand is not an easy task. Many challenges can arise, which may have significant impacts on a brand's success. In this blog, we will discuss the most common branding issues faced, and explore some effective solutions to overcome them.
Lack of Brand Differentiation
One of the biggest challenges facing businesses is creating a brand that stands out from the competition. With so many brands offering similar products or services, it can be challenging to differentiate your brand. Lack of differentiation can lead to customers overlooking your brand and opting for competitors.
To overcome this issue, businesses need to identify their unique selling points. At The Brand Management Company, we call these the brand pillars, a group of key attributes that, when grouped, create a unique brand.
I always use this conversation to explain further:
“Hey, I can’t remember the name of a singer. Help me out. She’s a powerhouse vocalist.”
“Ummm, Mariah? Whitney? Carrie Underwood?”
“No, no. She’s got this mod thing happening.”
There are many female singers. Many singers are described as powerhouse vocalists. But, there is only one singer with these identifiers alongside the British/Mod attributes. Together this specific grouping differentiates from the competition.
Secondly, they need to highlight the brand pillars in all branding efforts by incorporating each brand pillar into every narrative, every image, and every product released. What good are brand pillars if they are not used correctly? If even one press release goes out without hitting all the pillars, the business risks consumer confusion.
With these two strategies in place, the business can focus on creating a distinctive brand personality that sets them apart from the competition and allow future marketing campaigns to elevate their story and create brand loyalty.
Inconsistent branding can be a significant hindrance to building a strong brand. Inconsistencies can occur in various forms, such as using different logos or brand colors across multiple platforms or inconsistency in messaging. Consistency is crucial in building brand recognition and trust with customers. To address this issue, businesses need to create brand guidelines that outline how their brand should be represented across all channels. It is also essential to have a centralized system in place to manage all branding assets.
Unfortunately, inconsistent messaging is an easy trap due to the various platforms and outlets the brand must utilize during its marketing campaigns. Therefore, the brand guidelines must include limitations and direction on more than just the brand story like the voice and the tone of the brand personality.
And most importantly, when external issues arise in the marketplace, a business should be able to pivot its marketing strategies while staying on brand. For instance, when COVID changed almost every industry imaginable, certain companies lost their way. I recently heard of a sports massage company that initially had a robust following by specializing in sports injuries. However, when COVID hit, they expanded their services to include spa-like features like facials and calming massages. After this, they decided to make their storefront atmosphere more spa-like, which then eventually caused a complete business name change. A snowball effect caused a complete rebrand, and now they have no clear differentiation in the marketplace against all the other Massage Envy’s out there. Today, they are starting over with an entirely new target audience.
They would have maintained consistency if they had offered new services in-line with their brand. Some on-brand ideas could have been to partner with local physical therapy offices or gyms to offer package rates, create online or outdoor stretching classes 2x a week for their clients, or offer home services to the immune-compromised. They could have even created a fun sportswear merch line. All missed opportunities that probably could have saved a lot of money! Instead, they are practically starting over as a new business.
Failure to Connect with Target Audience
A brand's success depends on its ability to connect with its target audience. Failure to connect with the target audience can result in decreased brand loyalty and reduced sales. To overcome this issue, businesses need to understand their target audience's needs, preferences, and behaviors. Conducting market research can help identify the target audience and create messaging and branding efforts that resonate with them.
Two key reminders regarding the target audience to avoid branding problems:
A brand can not please everyone, so do not try. This policy will save loads of resources from money to time.
The brand should not forget its core audience. All business wants to grow and evolve, but if they forget the attributes and behaviors of the core audience, it becomes really easy to accidentally move forward with marketing campaigns that alienate the base to detrimental consequences.
Taylor Swift is a shining example of how a brand efficiently connects with its target audience. From Myspace to Easter eggs and everything in between, Taylor knows her audience and super-serves them to create sheer pandemonium.
Lack of Brand Awareness
Brand awareness refers to the extent to which customers are familiar with a brand. Building brand awareness is essential for businesses to gain a foothold in the market and attract new customers. Lack of brand awareness can be due to inadequate marketing efforts or insufficient investment in branding. To address this issue, businesses need to invest in marketing and advertising campaigns with a clear focus on building brand awareness. Social media marketing, influencer marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) are examples of effective strategies for building brand awareness.
While creating a brand awareness strategy, be sure to keep in mind what communication channels make sense for the brand itself. For instance, a marketing strategist may suggest a brand prioritize all social media platforms to increase impressions at a higher rate, whereas a brand strategist would dig in further to protect the brand’s growth. In reality, it may be a better decision for the brand to forgo certain platforms for several reasons. One example is a value conflict. If a brand publicly stands for one thing, and the platform and/or the leaders of the platform showcase the opposite, the brand should avoid the platform altogether to avoid the appearance of selling out.
So, make sure there is proper investment put into the long uphill battle to marketplace domination to avoid mishaps along the way. From hiring the right team, prioritizing the best channels, and spending an appropriate budget to target the correct audience, a business needs to invest heavily in brand awareness.
Negative Brand Perception
Negative brand perception can be detrimental to a brand's success. Negative perception can occur due to a range of factors, such as negative reviews, product failures, or unethical business practices. In today’s society, even a seemingly small infraction may result in a brand’s cancelation.
A recent example of this has impacted Bud Light. Often the marketing team may lose track of the core brand and its core audience thereby creating problems through marketing campaigns that are perceived as off-brand. It is imperative to hire marketing teams or employees who can continually identify the key traits and voice of the brand personality to effectively share it through their designed marketing strategies and avoid missteps.
To address these types of issues head-on, businesses need to be transparent and honest in their communications and take swift action to address any negative feedback or issues. We handle crisis management here at The Brand Management Company, so we often get tasked with sensitive messaging campaigns and they truly are as easy as circling back to the brand pillars and the values shared with the target audience.
You are not alone if you have experienced any one of these branding problems. These common problems can pose significant challenges for a business, but it can overcome them with the right brand strategies and tools. By identifying and addressing these issues, a business can build a strong brand empire that will resonate with customers, create brand loyalty, and set them apart from the competition.
If you are struggling with your brand identity or brand strategy...or if you just want to hear our opinion on public apologies, the most commonly implemented crisis management strategy... feel free to drop us an email to connect. We exist to provide clarity and confidence in your brand so you can concentrate on growing your empire. We look forward to hearing from you!