Building a Brand? Avoid These 5 Pitfalls

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Building a Brand?

Avoid These 5 Pitfalls

How do you build a knockout brand that people remember, love, and stay loyal to?

  • You get a deep understanding of your purpose, personality, position, and audience.
  • You think long and hard about who you are today and where you want to be tomorrow.
  • You work on messaging and design, measuring progress against the guidelines established above.
  • You iterate, test, and iterate more.

Those are big asks, and there are plenty of ways to veer off-course. To help you start thinking about all the ways to get it right, we’re sharing the top five pitfalls we’ve seen companies make. Avoid these traps, and you’ll be primed for success.

1. Dividing and conquering.

A brand is made up of many elements: name, logo, positioning, messaging. It’s a lot to tackle, and you might be tempted to take one at a time. Don’t. Every component of your brand has to work together to tell your story, and your story has to be consistent. A disjointed brand is tough to connect with and even tougher to remember.

2. Not listening to everyone who matters.

Your brand is a collection of perceptions people have about your company. To find out how you’re connecting, you need to solicit feedback – not just from your leaders but from employees, partners, customers, investors, analysts, and the media, too.

Outside perspective is vital. You may live and breathe your brand, but your audience experiences it, and they see stuff you don’t: benefits you should be focusing on, opportunities to pursue, challenges to overcome. Listen closely, and you’ll find unfiltered inspiration.

3. Owning the how instead of the why.

You built your product; of course you’re proud of its features. But what do your customers actually care about? Again and again, we see companies make assumptions – and get it wrong.

If people don’t understand the bigger problem you’re solving, they won’t care how you’re doing it. For example, do you want to sell the hammer that hits 2% harder than the competition, or the one that helps people build a safer dream home, faster?

That example gets at another reason to tell a story that’s bigger than your product: emotion. People attach to brands because they feel something – confidence, inspiration, delight. When you focus on what you solve and stand for instead of what you make, you invite emotional connection.

Where do the product features come in? Farther down the funnel. Marketing is a conversation, and your brand is the first interaction. Lead with the highest level, and follow up with benefits and features later.

4. Not sounding like a human.

No matter what business you’re in, jargon is a part of daily communication. But in marketing, jargon is lazy – a shortcut to avoid the work of conveying real meaning. Your audience is busy. They won’t take the time to crack the code. Instead, tell your story in simple English, so you don’t leave people scratching their heads and walking away.

The same goes for buzzwords. When everyone else is “driving digital transformation” or “powering scalable, agile systems,” you can be the one to help companies reach more customers online or speed up their product development cycle.

5. Forgetting that every employee is a brand ambassador.

Say you’ve gone ahead and built a new brand. Most of your workforce won’t have been involved – and to those employees, it can feel like a hassle. Every member of your team is a brand representative, and it’s your job to make them the best they can be.

Show your entire workforce the research that drove the need for the refresh. Provide training sessions and templates for getting started. Create an introductory manifesto or video to reveal the new brand and get everyone excited about it.

In the end, it’s all about helping people understand why you needed a new brand, how you arrived where you did, and how it’ll help. When your employees are looped in, they’ll be quick to buy in – and to start sharing your brand with everyone else.

At WHM, we’ve seen new brands transform a business, not only externally but internally, too. Suddenly, employees are walking taller, because they’re inspired by a shared vision. Campaigns get to market faster, because nobody has to guess which story to tell. And companies make a bigger impact, because they’re reaching people where it counts – in the feelings – with a story that connects.

Get in touch with us, and we can help you start building the right brand to make a big difference for your business.

Audrey Merritt
Partner