Do You Have a Disconnected Brand?

disconnected-brandCan you remember the last time a colleague, business owner or brand left you feeling disappointed, discouraged or mislead?

Maybe you thought your favorite pressed juice company used 100% organic ingredients – especially since they’re constantly touting a healthy, detoxed lifestyle – only to find it’s not exactly true. Or you met with a new business advisor after reviewing her professional website, only to find her scattered and unfocused in person. Or perhaps your President promised to take care of the working class and not play golf when his eyes should be on much more important balls. Oops.

If you say or promote one thing – but then act or appear differently – it creates what I call “brand disconnection.” It’s a disconnection between what you promise and claim, and what you actually do. Sooner or later, your clients, followers and fans will discover the disconnection, and they won’t be happy about it. They’ll feel betrayed and suspicious, and the backlash can be devastating.

Millions of viewers witnessed “brand disconnection” at the last Super Bowl. What happened next is a cautionary tale for any business owner. Here’s how it unfolded..

In January, Audi ran an inspiring Super Bowl ad with an underlying theme of female empowerment, touting equal pay for women. The 60-second spot, called “Daughter,” shows a father watching his daughter down hill racing and pondering how society will value her worth as she grows. He wonders, “What should I tell my daughter? That she will automatically be valued less than every man she’ll ever meet?” The ad ends on a positive note, with the father expressing hope that she will be treated fairly, as Audi pledges its commitment to equal pay for equal work.

Audi also spent additional advertising dollars on social platforms like Twitter, where they continued with the message of supporting and empowering women. They were hoping for a spike in popularity and sales – but what they got instead was a PR nightmare. Almost immediately, people tweeted photos of the all-male Audi global management board, calling them out on their “false advertising.”

Ironically, it appears that Audi doesn’t actively recruit and support female leaders like the commercial suggests, since no women sit on their board and its 14-person American Executive team has only two women. A complete disconnect from their female-friendly message.

It’s pretty disheartening when words and actions don’t align – whether it’s with people we love or with the brands we’ve come to know and trust.

In order to avoid brand disconnection, your words and actions must be congruent. What you say, write and share on social media needs to be aligned with who you really are and what you represent as a brand. Everything from your website, business card, company annual report – and yes, even how you dress and shake hands with clients – should have the same message, look and feel.

If you’re not sure how to make your brand feel more “connected,” start by asking yourself these three questions:

1. How do I want someone to feel when they interact with my brand?

2. What are three words that best describe my brand?

3. What does my brand stand for and why is it important?

Once you have clarity around what you stand for and how you want your clients and followers to feel, you can consistently infuse this messaging – and promise – into everything you say and do.

As Anthony Hitt once said, “Keep every promise you make and only make promises you can keep.” And as Danielle LaPorte once said, “The secret to success is… do what you say you’re going to do.” So very true.

Whatever you’re promising to your customers – whether it’s 100% organic ingredients, a professional user experience, or female empowerment – make sure it’s a promise you’re willing and able to keep.

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