The Three Biggest Brand Killers

You’ve got it all…

The fancy new website.

Fabulous, professionally-shot photos.

Tons of free content on your site for visitors to enjoy.

Facebook ads running 24/7 plus a newsletter that you send out regularly.

Everything is up and running, and yet… clients and customers aren’t exactly banging down your door. Ugh.

Compared to other people in your industry, you feel unnoticed. Invisible. Sales are slow. You’ve done all of this hard work to set up your business and establish a name for yourself, and it feels like it’s just not working. You might be wondering, “Why? What’s not clicking?!”

Having worked in marketing and branding for more than 25 years, I’ve noticed some very common mistakes that I call “brand killers.”

Here are three brand killers that might be happening in your biz right now – plus solutions for each one:

Brand Killer #1: Lack of Clarity

When you walk into Sprinkles, you know exactly what you’re getting – delicious cupcakes. When you walk into DryBar, you know exactly what you’re getting – a fabulous blowout. When you purchase Beyoncé’s newest album, you know exactly what you’re getting – empowering music with catchy beats and feminist lyrics.

So, when people walk into your shop, visit your site, or meet you in person, what are they getting? What can people expect from you? What, exactly, are you providing – and to whom? What makes you amazing at what you do? If you can’t answer these questions succinctly, this reflects a lack of clarity, and that’s a major brand killer.

If customers don’t feel clear about what you’re offering, then they’re not going to open their wallets. A confused mind never buys.

Solution: Get clear about exactly who you serve, how you do it and the results your clients get from working with you. Identify why you do the work you do so you can share it with your community regularly to deepen your emotional connection. Not sure where to begin? Download this Brand Clarity Worksheet to help you get clear.

Brand Killer #2: Inconsistency

In 2004, at the height of Sex & the City fame, Gap hired Sarah Jessica Parker as the face of the brand. But Gap customers were accustomed to simple basics and well-priced items, not high fashion and Manolo Blahnik-loving NYC it girls. Within the first year of her three-year contract, the campaign flopped and Gap and SJP parted ways. Carrie Bradshaw’s cosmo-sipping, stiletto-wearing style wasn’t aligned with what Gap customers wanted and caused a brand disconnect – and inconsistency – in the mind of the Gap’s consumers.

What about you? Is your brand inconsistent, at times? Maybe you write emails with a bubbly, extroverted tone of voice, but when you meet with clients face to face, you’re quiet, reserved and sound completely different. Maybe your customers expect productivity tips from you, but then you release a new product that’s focused on vegan cooking, leaving your fans scratching their heads in puzzlement. It’s OK if your brand evolves gradually over time, but be wary of too much inconsistency.

Solution: Make sure your actions and your visual branding are aligned across all platforms – both digitally and in person. From your website to your Facebook page, to your marketing materials, your office and the way you dress, your message and the way you engage should be consistent. In other words – once you’ve made a promise to your audience, keep that promise consistently.

Brand Killer #3: Overwhelm

Customers are overwhelmed by too many choices. Consider the famous Jam Study conducted by a pair of psychologists back in 2000. When offered six delicious varieties of jam, customers were very likely to try a sample and then make a purchase. But when offered 24 varieties of jam, customers were 1/10th as likely to make a purchase.

As the Jam Study demonstrates, when flooded with too many possibilities, people feel overwhelmed and tend to walk away rather than swiping their debit card. Moral of the story? Offering “more” is not necessarily better.

Solution: Keep it simple, simple, simple. Streamline your message and your offerings. Offer a limited menu of services, for example, rather than dozens of options. Communicate your message as concisely as possible. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Lack of clarity. Inconsistency. Overwhelm. Yikes.

If you feel like your brand is being wrecked by one, two, or all three of these brand killers, here’s the good news: these issues are completely correctable. You can build more clarity, consistency, and simplicity into your brand – and you can begin today.

Choose one small area that you could upgrade this week – maybe the homepage of your website, or your Instagram bio, or the email template that you use to confirm new client bookings. Work on that. Next week, move along to another area.

Iconic brands aren’t built in a single day. Be tenacious and keep marching forward. Keep clarifying. Keep simplifying. Keep going.

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