A lot of work goes into creating your brand, and it makes sense that you would try to protect and maintain your company’s brand image as much as possible. Unfortunately, the image you’re trying to cultivate might not agree with how it is actually being perceived. How can you tell if you’re experiencing a brand disconnect, and how can you remedy it?
1. You Don’t Have Customer Data
How much do you really know about your customer? Do you know when they work? How often they shop? How much money they have? How much they’re willing to spend? Where and how they want to spend it? My point is that unless you know more about what the customer wants and how your company can provide it, you’re working blind. There is going to be a big chance of your brand message missing the mark. The best thing to do in this case is to collect as much relevant information as you can about your customers, and tweak your value proposition and message in order to appeal to what your customers consider important.
2. Marketing is Operating in a Vacuum
Let’s say your marketing department comes up with a high-profile ad campaign that builds up your customer service. It’s got a big budget, great visibility, and even goes viral. Customers flock to you, only to find out the customer service is actually one of your major weaknesses! Not only does your marketing campaign fail, but now you have a horde of disappointed, angry customers to deal with. Had marketing sounded out the customer service department and verified their claims before the campaign, this damage might’ve been avoided. This due diligence also applies to product features and benefits, warranty claims, service coverage, etc. Any oversights can lead to misleading claims and false advertising, the repercussions of which could be fatal for a growing business.
3. Your Product Lines Aren’t Consistent
Businesses normally have carefully considered product lines that are consistent with their core strengths. In normal English, an aquarium supplies distributor shouldn’t go around selling car parts. Selling unrelated items is a risky proposition, and the dismal performance of the new product might even come back to hurt your main product line. If you do have an idea for a new, unrelated product, it might be a good idea to develop a separate brand identity specifically for it and its market. That way you can go ahead and promote it without having to worry about whether or not it clashes with your core brand image.
4. Your Marketing Isn’t Targeted
Is your marketing message diluted, speaking to no one in particular in an attempt to speak to everybody? If so, then you’re probably not getting much mileage. General statements like that tend to be filtered out as noise in favor of more targeted messages. Marketing messages work best when you’re speaking to a specific audience and catering to their specific needs. If your message connects with the customer, then you’ve just established a relationship that your customer will value.
5. Your Customers Speak, but You Don’t Listen
Nobody knows your product better than the customer. If what you value differs from what the customer values, then cast your ideas aside and listen to your customer. This is invaluable feedback that doesn’t just improve your brand image: it improves your company’s performance, customer satisfaction, and will reflect on your bottom line.
6. You’re Shooting from the Hip
Are you taking things as they come? Releasing ads and content without a single unifying theme? Playing it fast and loose according to how the market or your company’s performance dictates? If so, then you’ve probably got a disjointed brand identity that’s all over the place. Marketing plans need to be flexible, true. But more importantly, marketing plans should be carefully considered. The best marketing campaigns are planned well in advance, with special consideration going to market shifts, trending pop culture, and available technology. Brand identities are crafted over time, and every move your company makes either adds to or takes away from it. The more you plan your company’s actions, the more chances you have of building a brand that both you and your customers will fall in love with.