Branding Mistakes Can Make or Break Your Growth Strategy
It is not always easy to live your brand promise. With the speed of social media, it is far too easy to make big and visible branding mistakes these days.
Top 10 Branding Mistakes that Companies Make
The most common branding pitfalls that our clients report include:
For example, on the TV Show, Shark Tank, entrepreneurs are often tripped up by the celebrity investors when their products are not perceived to be appreciably different. From Custom Chef Hats for women that can be replaced with shower caps to selling socks in sets of 3 in case you lose one, smart investors (and customers) know “different” when they see it.
For example, we recently took our car to a 10-minute oil change place. Once we gave them our car, it took 20 minutes to change our oil. Now that may be faster than our normal garage, but we left dissatisfied because they did not fulfill their brand promise.
For example, in the 1990s, Harley Davidson motorcycles had acquired a cult-like status. The brand stood for toughness, masculinity, freedom and power. In a bid to leverage the brand, Harley introduced wine coolers, aftershave, and perfumes. After robust criticism from loyal customers, Harley discontinued many inappropriate products.
More products do not always mean more sales.
For example, AdAge reported that as Samsung and Apple continue the fight for market share, Samsung’s marketing is clearly winning the battle for consumer love, with its cool selfies and earned media strategy. It’s a rivalry that would prompt any brand to change up its marketing approach and invest in digital marketing and social media support — an area in which Apple has been less aggressive than its competitors.
For example, a considerable portion of Blockbuster’s inability to survive occurred because it waited until 2004 to address the threat of Netflix, a more convenient DVD-by-mail service substitute that went public in 2002. Now Netflix is facing increased substitute competition form Hulu, Walmart, and YouTube.
For example, Comcast Cable advertised the new Xfinity1 platform in our area. We received weekly fliers and sales calls about the promotion. When we finally picked up the phone, they spent 15 minutes asking questions and running through our account. Then they told us it was not yet available in our area. They wasted our time and their time.
For example, after losing its way in the early 2000’s with customers, physicians and employees due to an overemphasis on profits and cost cutting, Aetna Health embarked on the “New Aetna.” They realized they needed to bring back the company’s core values of customer commitment, responding quickly to natural disasters, and company pride in everything they do.
For example, the last time I rented a car form Avis, their “We try harder” tagline seemed pretty ridiculous on the banner behind the customer service rep who appeared uninterested in helping the long and disgruntled line of customers who had reservations but no car. Then I learned that the company consistently rates poorly in J.D. Power customer satisfaction studies. Are they really trying harder?
Then there is AIG’s promise — “The strength to be there.” They wisely discontinued this campaign after the company had to be bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis.
For example, General Motors introduced the Chevrolet Nova into the Spanish-speaking market to disappointing sales. “Nova” translates as “doesn’t go” in Spanish. The embarrassed automobile giant changed the model name to the Caribe. Similarly, the Toyota Fiera, which means “ugly old woman” in Puerto Rico, was pulled from the market.
While some companies like Apple have successfully met “unknown” customer needs with innovative new products, most companies ignore their customers at their own peril. For example, think about the “New Coke” or Netflix’s famously failed attempt to split their DVD and streaming video business in two. Both resulted in a horrendous backlash and negative financial hit.
The Bottom Line
If you want to grow, you must align how you go to market with what matters most to your customers and your employees. Otherwise, you will fall behind.
To learn more about branding mistakes to avoid and how to align your go-to-market strategy, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Current Sales Strategy
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