The graveyard of dead brands is a massive landscape riddled with headstones that bear some pretty big names: New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, Blackberry, MySpace, HMV – the list is endless and somewhat surprising. Even the biggest and most savvy companies in the world can miss the mark when it comes to solidifying the success of their brand, and only the very strongest can recover when they make a gaffe with it. For every success story there is an equally sad demise, and avoiding the pitfalls isn’t easy – because branding isn’t an easy thing to do.

So how can your business avoid the brand graveyard? The first thing is to realize that creating a successful and solid brand takes a lot of thought, research, and strategic planning on the part of a comprehensive and objective team of strategists, designers, writers, and managers that ensure things stay on track.  Internal marketing departments are often too close to the brand to do it justice. Not being able to see the forest for the trees is a common reason for brand failure, but there are other typical culprits too.

Ineffectual Storytelling

The planet is swirling with marketing messages. If you want yours to be heard, it has to be meaningful, compelling and unique. Without exception, brands that don’t make it are brands that failed to tell a relevant story to their audience. If you can’t make people listen, you can’t sell to them. Story is key.

Being Inauthentic

Authenticity in marketing, as it is in life, is about knowing who you are. Your brand should stand for something and stick to it. If you deviate from that, you’ll lose the trust of those who relate to you and they’ll go looking for something (or someone) else who does. Know who you are, know what you do best, know who you’re serving, and stay the course.

Breaking Your Brand Promise

For consumers to buy into your brand, you have to offer them something of value. That’s your brand promise. Too often brand promises are thought of as taglines – but they’re much more than that. Your brand promise is your commitment to your customers – something you’re providing that they need or want on an emotional level. Volvo’s promise is safety, while BMW’s is The Ultimate Driving Machine. Same brand category, but very different promises – and very different buyers because of it. Break your promise and your brand will suffer, bottom line.

Misjudging Customer Perceptions

Your brand exists in the minds of your customers, so it’s imperative that you have a grasp on what they believe, think, need, want and expect from it. Thorough market research is an essential part of effective brand management. The minute a brand loses touch with its customers is the minute it begins to fail.

Poor Competitive Differentiation

Most brand failures aren’t the result of a single massive marketing mistake – they’re a gradual and sad demise due to underwhelming messaging and lack of effective differentiation. You’re competing in a crowded marketplace, and all your competitors are vying for a piece of the same consumer pie. To grab attention, you’ve got to clearly define what makes you different and exploit it loudly, boldly and often.

Don’t allow brand failure to be an option for your business. Partner with a proven team of professionals who understand what it takes to make your brand stand out – and stand the test of time. If you need to better establish your brand and get your message heard,  the team at William Joseph Communications is here to help.