In our recent post To Build a Strong Brand Strategy, Start Here, we share with you advice from Lindsay Pedersen, brand strategist and author of Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide. Today, we’re going to share more of her insight, specifically the mistakes she’s seen during her years of working with businesses, ranging from brand-new start-ups to billion-dollar companies.
“Misunderstanding brand leads to costly mistakes,” she says. “Only by recognizing common missteps and avoiding them can you fully realize the power of a strong brand and put your business ahead of the competition.”
Here are six common mistakes she feels companies make — and what you should do instead:
Delaying on brand strategy
Pederson believes your brand strategy should serve as your North Star, guiding all your business decisions, no matter how small. The sooner you have a brand strategy, the sooner you will solidify your purpose and begin fulfilling your brand promise.
You can always revisit your brand strategy and refine it later as you learn more about your customer, the competitive space and your own strengths as a business.
Failing to claim a brand position — and letting the market do it for you
Position happens regardless, so make sure you are the one driving the message by stating in no uncertain terms what you do and who you serve. “Don’t be an accidental brand,” Pedersen warns.
Deciding not to focus
Don’t be scared to hone in on a specific promise and a target audience. Brand strategy includes choosing what you are NOT going to focus on as much as what you are going to focus on. Nail down your target audience, streamline your services and make your messaging razor sharp.
Believing brand is just a logo
Many different components and tactics make up your brand. It includes things like logos, advertising, TV and social media, the product itself, customer experience, tagline, SEO, font, your business’s personality, and even the color of your employees’ uniforms. But none of these are, by themselves, brand. Brand is the interconnected web of what your business means and how you deliver that meaning, says Pedersen.
Making it too hard for customers to know what you do
Customers engage with your business when they know you exist. However, Pedersen advises that the solution isn’t to bombard people with marketing and sales messages. Instead, she says it’s about sharing your message with bracing clarity, which most businesses fail to do. Be crystal clear about what your business is and why that matters to customers.
Selling a promise you don’t back up with proof
To make people believe in your brand, trust it and follow it, you must provide compelling proof that it will live up to its promise. Provide an attribute, a feature, a fact, a guarantee, an ingredient — any special thing the brand offers that meets that promise.
If you made some of these mistakes, Pederson says not to let them derail your future. “It’s never too late to brush up on brand and start making better choices for your business,” she concludes.
Lindsay Pedersen is the author of Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide. She is a brand strategist, board advisor, coach, speaker and teacher known for her scientific, growth-oriented approach to brand building.