Is branding really a waste of time and money?
A few weeks back I stumbled across an article that had me shaking my head in disbelief.
The author declared that he believed ‘branding’ (your marketing materials, business cards, slogan, tag lines, advertising and so forth) were a complete waste of time.
He also believed your ‘brand’ was “the emotion that a customer feels when thinking about your product.”
While I agree with the second part of the author’s viewpoint i.e. “your brand is the emotion a client has when thinking about you and your business” – I certainly don’t agree with the first.
While your ‘brand’ IS the perception other people have of you (i.e. your reputation) to me ‘branding’ are the elements you use to help create, build and maintain your Signature Brand message.
And, as a service-based business since the ‘product’ is very much YOU, this means your ‘branding’ is not only your brochures, slogan and business cards etc, but also how you act. So everything you do and say (both online and offline) has the potential to affect your brand/reputation.
We were reminded of that this week, when a few high-profile people did some serious damage to their brand (reputations) due to inappropriate behaviour.
So, if like the author, you think branding is just a myth, read on.
Here are 3 branding mistakes I often see, where individuals expose themselves and their brands through their behaviour and communications.
Hopefully you won’t recognise any:
Branding Mistake 1: Uncensored comments
While I believe it’s important to be honest, there are some things that you just shouldn’t say (or discuss) in a public forum.
Well-known radio presenter – Kyle Sandilands (who has already been in hot water because of his comments) had many industry representatives and many members of the community in an uproar.
A journalist provided some negative feedback on a television show debut that Kyle and his co-host launched. Instead of debating the topic, he resorted to name-calling, using some pretty foul language, which I won’t repeat here.
Have a debate; provide your viewpoint; and/or agree to disagree if you have to. But DON’T resort to name-calling – it’s just plain childish and unnecessary.
I’ve got numerous examples of where people have had contracts terminated because of uncensored commenting.
While Kyle still seems to have his hosting spot on the radio network, he did lose several sponsorships. And, many of the people I’ve spoken to will no longer be tuning in to his show.
Don’t fall into the same trap. Be very careful how you speak about other people.
And while you’re at it, here are a few more uncensored things I’ve seen that you’ll want to avoid.
- Don’t complain about just having gotten off the phone from ‘your client from h$ll’. He/she may just read that comment and decide to take his/her business elsewhere. That may be good if they are a difficult client, however more of your clients may just read your post and wonder whether you’ll one day be complaining about them.
- Don’t whine that you can’t be bothered doing any work and will be taking the afternoon off. Your prospect (who has given you some initial work which you should be working on today) has just seen that comment and decided you’re not the person they want to invest in.
- Don’t openly discuss your relationships or personal things that should be kept just that – personal! While some social media platforms may give you the option of sharing certain things with ‘friends’, that conversation you’ve just posted may be the reason why your ‘friend’ doesn’t recommend you to their extended network.
- You know that wild weekend you had? I’m not interested in hearing about it. Nor do I want to see any pictures – even if dancing half-naked on the tabletop seemed hilarious to you at the time. It’s not – sorry.
- Speaking of pictures, please don’t post anything that your mother would NOT be proud of. [I’ve personally decided not to invite someone on my show – the Ambitious Entrepreneur because of inappropriate photographs and comments I’ve seen when researching potential guests.]
My advice: Be mindful of what you say, do and write. You just never know who may read, see or hear it.
Wouldn’t want a potential client (sponsor, employer, even your mother) to read your post; view your pictures; or listen to the comment you’ve just made? Then keep them to yourself!
Branding Mistake 2: Exhibiting inappropriate behaviour
Celebrity Apprentice ended last week, and while there were several celebrities that tarnished their brand through inappropriate behaviour, there was one in particular that did everything right.
Right of course if you were on a mission to completely destroy your reputation.
Introducing Ms Deni Hines.
Her behaviour and the way she spoke to her teammates was rude and obnoxious. And, while I’m all for having a healthy level of self-confidence, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Unfortunately Deni erred on the side of arrogance – with a bolded capital A.
Her behaviour was so bad that it had people coming out in droves.
The number of negative comments being shared on several social media sites was proof that people did NOT appreciate her behaviour. And they certainly let their feelings be known.
Prior to the show I didn’t have an opinion either way about Ms Hines. However I can tell you now, I will never buy any of her albums or ever recommend her to some of my business contacts looking for someone to sing their corporate jingle. And, from the comments I read on Facebook and Twitter – there are many thousands of others that won’t either.
My advice: Be nice to others and treat them how you would like to be treated.
Exhibiting arrogant, rude and obnoxious behaviour is one of the quickest ways to turn people off – both your clients AND prospective clients. Just don’t do it.
Branding Mistake 3: Sending out contradictory messages
I’ve written many articles about the importance of sending out a consistent message in your social media marketing and communication efforts so that people can get to know, like and trust you as an expert in your field.
While it’s important to be on-brand, being the opposite (i.e. off-brand) and sending out a contradictory message can quickly damage your reputation.
In my article To Be or Not To Be On-Brand, I highlight the following examples:
- The driving instructor who’s driving is anything but, and certainly doesn’t reflect their business name ‘[Name] Safe Driving School’;
- The Personal Trainer (or other health professional) who is overweight and smokes;
- The Dentist, whose teeth look anything but like the pictures they have hanging in their waiting room;
- The Professional Organizer who arrives late to your appointment with a briefcase and/or handbag that looks anything but organized;
- The Graphic Designer whose own logo looks outdated;
- The Web Designer whose website states ‘Under Construction’ on many of the pages;
- The Image Consultant whose clothing is less than flattering;
- The business who claims “Nothing is too big for us to handle” who has nothing but excuses as to why something can’t be done.
… the list goes on.
I’m sure you have some examples you can share where people and/or businesses have communicated contradictory messages that ended up seriously tarnishing their brand.
Hopefully, your actions (or inactions) will not see you and your business added to this list.
My advice: Be on-brand at all times in everything you do and say. Your brand requires and DEMANDS it!
So, what do you think? Is ‘branding’ unimportant?
I reached out to my community and asked them what they thought. Here are some of the responses I received:
They believe that branding IS important, and as you can tell from the examples of branding mistakes that I listed above – so do I.
In fact I believe that branding – (any vehicle you use to communicate your message) is vital to building and maintaining your reputation, whether you’re speaking to a customer or a prospective customer.
I’d love to hear your comments. Leave them in the comment box below – it’s always great to hear from one of my readers.
Till next time, stay inspired.