Seven deadly sins of brand
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Seven deadly sins of brand

Every brand is susceptible to sowing the seeds of its own demise – but armed with knowledge of these seven deadly sins of brand management, you can ensure you never succumb to them.

Sin 1: Forgetting your audience

Kim Van Elkan, MD at branding consultancy Hornall Anderson, says: “One of the major deadly sins of brand is forgetting who your audience is. A brand thinks it wants a bigger audience, so it looks beyond its core, dedicated audience to pull in more punters.

“The brand wrongly assumes its core audience will be with it forever, and becomes so focused on the new group that the original customers start feeling neglected. These loyal followers know they aren’t being listened to anymore.

“Some brands can’t help themselves. They get greedy and then they fall on their face. But you should never forget or neglect your core audience – if you are aligned emotionally with your consumer, they will stay loyal to you forever.”

Takeaway – your core demographics should be the main focus of your research and, above all, your message.

Sin 2: Change for change’s sake

Neil Taylor, creative partner at The Writer, says: “The deadly sin that drives me mad is new marketing directors coming in and messing with a brand that’s been successful for years, just to make themselves feel like they’re revolutionaries. It actually takes more guts to say ‘this brand is pretty much working; I’d better not meddle too much’.”

Takeaway – when coming into a new role, analyse how well the marketing strategy is working before making changes, and have the courage to tell people that you can’t improve on perfection.

Sin 3: Ignoring users’ mobile experience

Fred Joseph, COO of S4M, says: “For both established and unknown brands, engaging with your customers in the mobile medium is intimate and inevitable. Brands tread a fine line between being shut out by users or welcomed with open arms. Cultivating a sustainable relationship with your customers begins with positive mobile digital experiences. In their efforts to raise more awareness brands too often serve ads to the end-user that are unsolicited with no added value.”

Takeaway – reach customers on mobile through targeted communications. Tools such as Google’s Micro-Moments could help.

Sin 4: Disconnecting brand experience from brand promise

Amanda Phillips, Millward Brown's UK head of marketing, says: “A brand’s promise, purpose and values must be reflected lucidly and consistently across every touchpoint, to create the full 360° experience that its customers expect. Often this doesn’t happen because thinking and operations across different departments aren’t joined up.”

Takeaway – use your central role in marketing to ensure brand promise is embedded throughout your entire organisation.

Sin 5: Jumping on the social bandwagon

Simon Glover, founder and managing director ODD, says: “In a bid to engage their target audience while being seen as topical, some brands jump on the latest social bandwagon without considering relevance, appropriateness and authenticity. It usually results in a backlash and brands quickly deleting tweets.”

Takeaway – stick to your key messages. Assess whether a pop culture/news event is entirely in line with your brand promise before getting involved, even if it’s something that your customers will definitely be paying attention to.

Sin 6: Not sticking to a coherent verbal identity

Ed Prichard, head of verbal identity at global brand consultancy Calling Brands, says: “We’re all used to brands tightly policing their visual identity. But what about their verbal identity? It’s not unusual for a brand to find itself engaging with customers, employees and stakeholders in places where visual identity is pushed into the background or even out of view. Think social media or a chat with customer services, for starters.”

Takeaway – draw up a set of guidelines on tone – or pay a professional copywriter to create one for you – and distribute it through your entire organisation. Try to get leaders in the organisation on board as early as possible.

Sin 7: Cross-border insensitivity

Greig Holbrook, founder of Oban Digital, says: “Brands that enter a new country online without understanding the culture, digital landscape, buying behaviours and current competition will struggle. You can’t simply replicate your UK or US website and expect to be successful.”

Takeaway – always use local knowledge when entering a new market, and be sure consider all aspects, from colours to naming conventions. There is government assistance available to help you successfully expand abroad.

Alex Blyth Freelance Journalist CPL
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