No one is perfect
Whether you’re the CEO of a sizable brand or a single-person startup, you influence your company’s branding, and the truth is that no one is perfect. You may only be committing two of the seven sins outlined below, but you may be committing them all, so keep reading.
We refuse to regurgitate the same business advice you’ve already read everywhere else, so we’ve tapped the brain of brand builder and keynote speaker, Jeremy Miller, who is the well-known President of Sticky Branding, and he’s insanely good at helping companies stand out.
Miller didn’t bat an eye at naming the common sins across all industries when it comes to branding, so in his own words below are not only the seven ways you’re probably screwing up, but ways to correct your errors:
1. Selling At All Costs
No one wants to be sold.
No one wants to deal with pushy sales reps and over-the-top marketing campaigns, but that’s what so many brands do. They push, push, push and talk, talk, talk.
Sticky Brands build relationships. They engage their customers upwards of three years before their products and services are needed. That way their customers know, like, and trust them, and they call them first when they have a need.
Take off your sales hat and focus on your customers, build lasting relationships with them.
2. An Out of Date Website
Branding is not an event, it’s a process
An outdated website is a sign of neglect. If you haven’t updated your website design in four years, I have to ask. Why don’t you like your brand? Was it mean to you?
Sticky Brands are constantly polishing and improving their brand collateral. The work is never done.
3. Bland, Boring, and Blue
A third of the top 100 global brands are blue. Brands like P&G, IBM, Facebook, GE, HP, Ford, and Samsung all use blue as the primary brand color.
Blue is a pretty good color. It connotes a company that is trustworthy, established, and secure. It’s the color of big, old, and professional.
As a result, a disproportionate number of small- and mid-sized companies default to using blue in their identities too. They assume blue is a better branding choice because it signals they are like the big, established brands.
That may be true, but blue is average. If everyone else is blue, pick another color. Make your brand visibly different!
4. Being “Good Enough”
We all work with plenty of companies that do a good job. They are efficient, effective, and deliver good value for the price. But good is not enough. Good is average, and average is not worth bragging about.
Find what makes your company unique or special, and bake that into everything you do. Be better than good — be the best in your business, and your brand will be hard to beat.
5. Ignoring your Values and Crashing your Brand
The pressure to perform is intense in companies, and sometimes you may look for a shortcut to hit a short term goal.
But short term gains can create long term pains.
If you ignore your values to achieve a short term goal or to overcome a crisis, you may crash your brand.
Your company’s values are the glue that holds it together. They form the bonds of your culture, attract the right people, and help you serve your clients.
What does your business believe? What are your morals? The more you know and understand your values, the better you can protect your brand.
6. Being too Focused on the Exit Strategy
Steve Jobs said, “I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business.”
Are you building a business to cash out, or are your building a brand? Brand building focuses on building a business that can transition through the generations.
7. Losing sight of what’s most important, your customers
To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s the customer, stupid.” Your customers are the only reason your business exists. The CEO might sign the paychecks, but it’s your customers that make that possible.
As companies scale and grow they risk “losing the plot.” This means thinking something that doesn’t matter one iota to your customers should be important. Or vice-versa.
Sticky Brands are built by putting their customers first. They innovate, challenge the status quo, and win, because they are intensely focused on serving and delighting their customers.
Read more of Millers’ insight in his new book, Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers and Grow an Incredible Brand.