Branding. It sounds simple enough... what can go wrong? Lots.  Just to be clear, I'm not talking just about Visual Design here, I'm talking about the whole box and dice of brand particularly for service businesses. Lets looking at the most common mistakes in branding and importantly, how to avoid them.

Mistake #1. Branding is about a logo (and it's size)  ... isn't it?

I hesitate to put this mistake in for fear it will insult your intelligence. But still.... one of the #1 things  I hear from marketers when reviewing communication. "We need more branding".  When they're really asking for a big fat logo.

These logos are just visual shorthand for a whole suite of
 emotional associations choreographed over time.


What? Hello? The whole communication piece should be an expression of brand. And BTW just because a logo takes up half an ad doesn't mean anyone will actually 'see' it . Branding is holistic. The logo is just the brands' autograph - and only has meaning when the brand offer does.

So: Upfront define 'brand'. It helps to workshop the idea of brand with the team, review some popular and not so popular brands; decide what they mean and what they're doing right or wrong and agree a team 'definition'.

Mistake #2. Everyone involved in a branding exercise has a different concept of  'brand'.

Ask 10 people to define brand and you'll most likely get 10 different answers ranging from a promise, to a set of associations in consumers' minds and worst of all "just something marketing does". And while many are true - you can see how we can get tripped up. So: Upfront define 'brand'. It helps to workshop the idea of brand with the team, review some popular and not so popular brands; decide what they mean and what they're doing right or wrong and agree a team 'definition'.

Mistake #3: Thinking creating a brand is 'marketing's' job.

No.  The brand is the business and the business is the brand, this is especially true in service industries where your brand starts with business PURPOSE  -closely followed by cultural values, benefits, tone and a kick ass 'star' product. All of this must be championed and modelled by the leaders who serve their staff . Everyday, 100%.

Mistake #4: Thinking a rebrand is the solution for a sick brand.

Some businesses think by slapping a fresh coat of paint on their tired old brand they can spruce it up with a bit of visual iconography. While this might attract interest in the short term - it'll make matters worse in the long term. See point #3 . Fix the business, the people that run it or the people who work in it. Otherwise the old problems will remain and consumers /buyers will be more disenchanted than ever.

Mistake #5. Not getting emotionally involved.

Brands are built on emotions and people buy on emotion.  When they don't buy on emotion, guess what? They buy on price.   So how do you get to this intangible holy grail? The first thing to do is figure out what emotions you want people to experience (beyond trust and reassurance - they're given).  Deliver these positive vibes through the product experience first, then deliver and reinforce through use of advertising, ambassadors , social media, sponsorships, brand engagements ,  'likeminded brands ',  creating a character - etc. etc. etc.

Mistake #6. Hankering for a Mission & Vision statement as an outcome.

While these statements can be very important compasses - unfortunately they usually become at best, framed dust gatherers or at worst stimulus for 'behind closed door' laughs amongst co-workers. Why? Specialists in the area of Leadership and business performance 'Leading Teams' found in their recent survey...

40 per cent of workers couldn’t remember their organisation’s mission statement. The impact can be profound; those team members that didn’t know their business’ cultural values were more unhappy in their job and thought poorly of management practices.

See the full article here.  Whats the solution? Focus on a mission which lends day to day business purpose ' we exist to....' and decide how to live these things daily. Its great to be ambitious but ground that ambition in good behaviour.

The old paradigm rings true....(Remember your  Under 15 Netball or Footy coach?)... " Focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself.  "

Mistake #7. Using lazy words like Integrity, Quality and Honour.

Please. Ofcourse every brand and business wants this. But for heaven's sake define what you mean. If you want your brand to have integrity what are the commitments it is going to uphold?  What are the penalties if it doesn't? What at a leadership level does this 'integrity' look like? How will you tell if it is and isn't delivered on a daily basis. Be specific.

Mistake #8. Disconnecting your Brand Values from your KPI's.

Your brand values are your culture - or will be. To create a great culture  the people within it need to BEHAVE in a certain way - from the boss down.  (see Mistake #6). How do you ensure this behaviour happens? Link the desired behaviour to reward and recognition. They need to be part of people's KPI's.
Uncompromisingly simple.

Mistake #9. Starting from the outside in.

Too often brand strategies are created by external 'suppliers' (like me :-) many of whom use secondary research to 'come up with' a brand strategy which is somewhat divorced from the reality of the business. (Not like me). While these strategies are undoubtedly brainy and likely creatively clever - if your people don't a/ 'get it'  b/  ' feel it'   c/  feel like they can deliver it and d/ see a  connection to their KPI's : It wont work. Always start inside out, your people should be along for the ride from inception to birth.

Mistake #10. Expect consumers (& staff) to embrace change without explanation.

So lets say you've avoided these mistakes and ended up with a brilliant holistic brand strategy along with a new look and logo. Your job isn' t done. The hard work begins in communicating change internally and externally; helping people understand WHY and HOW you've changed. Take your customers along for the ride too, especially your advocates and let them understand , benefit and celebrate the change. They will become great mouth-pieces for you.

If you can avoid these top ten - you'll have a great launch pad for a great brand.
Happy times ahead.

Tania Farrelly