By John Lofstock, Editor
Whether or not you realize it, your brand is tremendously important to every aspect of your business. A well-crafted and well-executed brand strategy can articulate your promise to customers, set you apart from the competition and establish you as a leader in the convenience channel.
Yet, many companies underestimate and neglect their brand. Even those who think they know their brand inside and out often have big misconceptions or serious flaws in their strategy. In fact, suppose you ask your frontline employees today, “What values does our brand represent?” How sure are you that their answers would be consistent?
Misunderstanding brand leads to costly mistakes. Forging an ‘ironclad brand’ lets you connect on a personal level with customers, which is important to younger generations.
On the other hand, a poorly crafted and executed brand position can seriously cost you. Pedersen offered five common branding mistakes companies must avoid.
You don’t claim your brand position. Instead, you let the market do it for you. Position happens whether or not you are driving it. If you allow yourself to be positioned by the market, it most likely will not be your optimal brand position for growth. The No. 1 mistake is to underestimate the importance of brand positioning by not intentionally claiming your brand position.
You fail to get the customer’s attention. Customers can engage with your business only when they know it exists. You must make it easy for them to notice you. The solution is to speak with bracing clarity, which most businesses fail to do. Be crystal clear about what your business is and why that matters to customers.
You focus on the category benefit of your product. The most common business pitfall is choosing a positioning idea that is not ownable and differentiated. For example, many retail businesses pin their company’s brand message on other products’ brands, a benefit that is not only not unique to the market, but is a must-have for all other retailers in the space.
Retailers can greatly increase sales by instead focusing on your brand message. If you sell potato chips, avoid relying on any one brand of potato chip. Instead, focus on something that only your stores can bring to the potato chip experience. Identify the things you are particularly good at, such as the best prices, the most convenient locations or the friendliest service. Then partner that message with all of the products you are selling.
You over-emphasize the vastness of your brand. Many people misunderstand brand because a lot of different components and tactics make up brand. It includes logos, social media and even the color of 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.
You try to reach all customers with one-size-fits-all messaging. There are five stages of a customer’s journey with your brand: Unaware, Aware, Consider, Purchase and Loyal. Your goal should be to craft a messaging hierarchy for customers at every stage. There is no one message that will connect with customers in each stage. Experts agree that it’s a mistake to mix messages — it will only confuse customers.
It’s never too late to brush up on brand strategies and start making better choices for your business.