Despite the hefty fee associated with building a brand, businesses UK wide experience the same pitfalls time and time again.
Without having a clear brand identity, values or guidelines in place, it’s difficult to understand a brand’s proposition, where many companies – and their target audience – are unable to look beyond the logo.
That said, why do companies go wrong with their branding? And, more importantly, what do they need to do in order to build a successful and established brand?
Loss of identity and values
An identity is what makes a brand unique, setting it aside from market competitors.
When a brand ‘forgets’ or moves away from its core values, the business in hand could be heading towards failure. A key and current example is the potential merger between Sainsburys and Asda. From a branding perspective, this merger will need to be managed and communicated effectively to all stakeholders in order to avoid confusion and loss of brand identity.
Where a current Asda customer is unlikely to shop in Sainsbury's, a current Sainsbury's customer is unlikely to shop in Asda. Therefore, if both brands aren’t careful, they could be at risk of compromising their current brand values, alienating their core demographic as a result.
Ever heard of the phrase 'consistency is key'? When working hard to establish a successful brand, this couldn’t be more accurate.
Without a consistent brand identity, a business will struggle to connect with its stakeholders both visually, mentally and emotionally. Everything that a business produces - from its website and social media posts to its digital and print ads - the messaging, colours, and imagery need to be consistent to create brand engagement and eventual brand loyalty.
This can be effectively demonstrated by recent research from the Sparkloop team, which questioned how consumers engage with and perceive brands and their taglines. It revealed that established brands, such as Nike, came out on top, where its brand tagline ‘Just do it’ inspired consumers to feel happy and motivated; showcasing how a successful brand can effectively engage emotion.
No brand guidelines
A consistent brand communications strategy is built on quality brand guidelines. Large companies will often have marketing, PR and communications strategies in place, but without clear brand guidelines, inconsistencies in core messaging, tone of voice and imagery will occur, confusing stakeholders as a result.
One of the first steps in creating a leading brand is to be clear on its proposition, and without brand guidelines this will be difficult to communicate to anyone.
Rebranding is an expensive and time-consuming task that shouldn't be taken lightly.
In order for it to be successful, business owners need to understand the motive behind a re-brand before committing to change. For example, deflecting from a poor product or service with a re-brand will only add to an existing negative perception, whilst paving way for further criticism.
From experience, subtle re-brands that uphold and maintain a brand’s core values work best. A key example is John Lewis. Not only did the retail giant launch a tasteful rebrand, but it told the story behind its decision for change, striking exactly the right chord with its stakeholders and target demographic.
Zero brand ambassadors
As a business owner, you need ambassadors who believe in, support and promote your brand. What you may not realise is that one of your most important ambassador groups is your employees.
Dedicating the time and resource into ensuring your team understand exactly what your brand represents is crucial to its success. If they can’t articulate your brand values, its positioning and target demographic, that doesn’t mean they are bad employees, it means you haven’t created a strong enough brand strategy.
Ultimately, helping your team to understand and believe in the brand creates passionate and engaged employees, who will want to work with you for the long-term.
By Gayle Carpenter, creative director at Sparkloop