Since so many companies seem determined to destroy their brands through boneheaded moves and bad decisions, I thought I’d lend them a hand.
A prior installment of That Branding Thing provided 20 fabulous ways to kill your brand. Today, I offer another helping – 20 more ideas for guaranteed brand damage.
- Focus on awareness as your primary marketing objective. Heck, Charles Manson has great awareness, and he… okay, bad example.
- Assume that if you build it, they will come. Your technologies, production processes and other features are so compelling that you need no other brand story.
- Cut brand investments. Business is good? You clearly don’t need to spend more. Business is bad? Gotta make cuts somewhere.
- Alienate your loyal customers by offering new customers a better deal.
- Play to the stockholders first. Because they’ve got your brand’s best interests at heart, right? They’re certainly not motivated by self-interest and short-term gains.
- Adopt a “no innovation” policy. Simply wait for your competitors to bring new ideas to the market. Then produce your own cheap knockoffs.
- Fly by the seat of your pants. There’s no point in defining your objectives, whether numerical or perceptual, and thus no point in defining strategies to achieve them. You’ll know success when you inevitably get there.
- If forced to define an objective, use sales and sales only. Branding is like competitive bodybuilding: He who is biggest clearly wins.
- Water down your Brand Character. Describe your brand the same way you’d describe a Boy Scout: Friendly. Honest. Approachable. Reliable. You get the picture. Eighty per cent of brands do this, so you know it’s a safe choice.
- Ignore the needs and preferences of your distribution channels. Your product is so amazing that they should be begging for it.
- Make sure your vendors know they’re vendors, not partners. Squeeze them on price, then ask them for free work or goods as a means of “investing in the relationship.” Insult their efforts and otherwise set them up for failure. When they do fail, remember to adopt a tone of righteous indignation.
- Discount, discount, discount!
- Assume, don’t investigate. You know in your gut what your customers love. Ignore the input of the sales team, other employees, your customers and partners. (Oops! I meant vendors.) If you like it, why research it?
- If you must engage in research, don’t use it to gather insights. Use it to confirm your opinions. Should it fail to do so, claim a flaw in the research design.
- Treat strategic and marketing planning as the once-a-year exercise in futility that everybody knows it is.
- Ignore the lessons of the past. There is nothing to be learned from other brands or your own history. Forward march!
- Consistency in your brand presentation is difficult to maintain. So don’t bother. It doesn’t matter if you put out five conflicting messages at once, as long as one of them makes the sale.
- Don’t have a core brand idea? Don’t worry! You just need a steady stream of clever promotional ideas. Given enough attempts, something is bound to stick.
- Learn only a little, and apply even less. Don’t do branding so much as you do a few things that branding is rumored to consist of.
- Honesty is relative. If your legal department says you can say it, you can say it.
And there you have it – twenty more ways to put your brand on the road to ruin. Meet you at the brand graveyard!
A version of this post appeared in the September 19, 2008, Business Courier of Cincinnati, in the column “That Branding Thing.” Thanks to the many friends of Three Deuce who offered their ideas.
About Matthew Fenton: Matthew founded Three Deuce Branding in 1997 with a simple mission: “To help good people build great brands.” He’s a former CMO who repeatedly led underdog brands to dramatically outpace the market, and now he does the same for the clients he serves. Businesses with revenues of seven to ten figures trust Matthew to help them achieve “brand clarity” through core brand strategy and positioning. Matthew is also a highly-rated speaker. Contact Matthew here. He’s based in Chicago.
Copyright 2008 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.