Have you ever seen messaging from a well-known brand that made you shake your head in confusion? Maybe one of your favorite companies released a product or service that just didn’t fit the brand you’ve grown to know and love. A departure from your brand mission and vision could happen if you’re not careful, and the result is always confusion among your buyers and fans. In most cases, this departure from the brand is an attempt to grow or to stay relevant during changing times. To avoid these mistakes, you must first know what they are. Let’s take a look at some flubs that could change the way your audience perceives your brand.
Inconsistent MessagingYour brand messaging takes place across several different platforms, from your social media and website to your print materials and videos. In many cases, the differences found on each medium boils down to the people responsible for those individual platforms. For instance, the writer of your website content may not have any say in the copy used for your advertisements or video scripts. The social media manager might not be aware of the copy used for your retargeting ads. On top of all that, your website designer and graphic designer may be two separate people who have created their own interpretation of your brand’s aesthetic—and the two visuals could differ enough that recipients of your brand message aren’t sure which message is true to your brand. The solution comes in two parts: first, a style guide that lays out your preferred language choices, fonts, colors, and other imagery. Second, there must be one person directing all messaging that reaches the public. This director may not do all the work, but they should see everything before it goes out, so as to ensure all messaging is consistent and on brand.
Changing With the TimesTrends changes at a blistering pace, and a brand that doesn’t keep up with the times could find themselves woefully out of touch within a short amount of time. Does that mean you need to update your logo and imagery every time the trends change? Absolutely not. Brands that do adopt the trends as quickly as they change will eventually find themselves without an audience, as buyers struggle to keep up with the changes their favorite brand is making. Instead, develop something that will stand the test of time. Using every one of the latest trends will make your brand look dated within no time, resulting in yet another brand refresh. It’s important to approach any brand refresh carefully, and only after fully examining your brand’s effectiveness. If you feel you’ve lost touch with your target audience, then perhaps a brand refresh is in order—just not every six months.
Trading Relevance for VisibilityReaching a wider audience is any brand’s dream, but you can’t give up everything you stand for to get your fifteen minutes of fame. The problem is, you may not even realize you’re trading relevance for visibility until it’s too late. Some of the biggest mistakes you can make include major social media faux pas, introducing or attaching your name to confusing products, and participating in guerilla marketing that backfires. Social media faux pas can happen before you even realize it. Have you read any of the horror stories about companies that jumped on a hashtag bandwagon, only to realize later they were associating their brand with something totally irrelevant? One of the most cringeworthy is the Kenneth Cole Twitter account, where the brand constantly shoves a foot in its mouth. In this case, we think perhaps the brand likes the notoriety too much, but it’s not something other brand should emulate. As for attaching your brand to the wrong product, look no further than the Fyre Festival debacle. Kendall Jenner is definitely a brand, and her connection to the Fyre Festival as an influencer was damaged—perhaps irreparably, since she also has to deal with the Pepsi commercial fallout, too—when the festival went belly up before it began but after fans had already arrived! As for a backfiring guerilla marketing campaign, there are probably too many to even mention. Some are excruciating to watch, while others just prompt a grimace. The movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall launched a campaign that irritated every real Sarah Marshall out there, as they installed posters with mean messages to the Sarah Marshall character in the movie. Lines like, “My mother always hated you Sarah Marshall,” and “You suck, Sarah Marshall,” prompted all the actual Sarah Marshalls out there to react with their own posters directed to the creators of the movie. Your company’s brand is your most invaluable asset. You’ve worked hard to develop this image and to build an audience that understands your values. In all cases, put your brand first. You could avoid some of these crazy mistakes and keep your image intact. That’s a lot more valuable than fifteen minutes of fame. If you’d like to explore marketing initiatives that don’t put your brand in danger, give us a call!
Your brand is your most important asset. How your buyers perceive your company determines whether or not they’ll make a purchase, refer you to other customers, and—most importantly—come back for more. That relationship between you and your buyers is a lot more fragile than you might think. One PR disaster may be all that stands between you and a bad reputation. If you don’t believe me, consider the mighty blunder of United Airlines. Wow, now there’s a bad reputation in the making. At the writing of this, their stock has dropped $1.4 billion, and is still plunging. Recovering from this could take a while. Now, in most cases, the ding to a reputation isn’t nearly as devastating as this particular example. Before you despair, try these tips to fix a bad business reputation.
Acknowledge the ProblemWhether your problem is presented within your business reviews or all over the news, it’s important that you first acknowledge that there is an issue. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping it will all blow over will only anger your audience.
Learn from the Bad PressThere is a learning moment within even the harshest reviews. Deconstruct the complaints, categorize the statements within, and determine which should be addressed. This is where’ll learn how your buyers feel about the quality of your products, the professionalism of your staff, and the helpfulness of your customer service. Without the bad reviews (or bad press), you may remain unaware of the ways in which you’re failing your customers. Take the criticism to heart and pledge to be better.
Ignore the IrrelevantYou will receive feedback that has nothing to do with your products and services. Once you’ve become well known, it’s inevitable that someone somewhere will attempt to drag you down. Learn how to ignore the feedback that can’t help you. Otherwise, you’ll agonize about things you simply have no control over. Consumers are savvy enough to spot a smear campaign from miles away. If you’re working hard to fix the actual problems, then you’re building even more trust with your buyers. Those irrelevant reviews will have no bearing on your brand.
Address Your AudienceA simple statement from the CEO or PR representative is all you need, but make sure you cover a lot of ground with your address. Name the problem, provide an explanation—not an excuse—and, if you have a solution, convey the steps you’ll take to fix the issue. If you don’t have a solution, at least let your buyers know you’re working on it. Then, reach out to the buyers who made complaints. Thank them for their feedback. Invite them to try your services or products again so they can see how their opinions helped you improve. Even more importantly, they’ll see how you’re working hard to solve for their needs.
The Last Ditch OptionA brand refresh is always an option, even if you’re not dealing with negative publicity. However, a brand refresh should be handled with care, simply because you don’t want to alienate your brand advocates. When you make major changes to your image, you have a lot at stake. Is it time for a refresh? In the case of United Airlines…well, it’s very likely. Digging out of the hole they’ve created will be difficult, but not impossible. If you’re facing total annihilation, then maybe you should consider this option, too. At any rate, it’s never a bad idea to take a critical look at your company and business practices. Ask trusted friends to give honest feedback, and then expand your circle to include strangers and even detractors. The wider the array of people, the more truthful your feedback will be. Remember that a brand refresh isn’t turning your back on your established brand. Instead, you want to maintain those aspects of your identity that your buyers still love while tweaking or updating your vision and mission. These waters are dangerous, but you can navigate them. If you’d like help—whether to weather a PR storm, fix a bad business reputation, or just refresh your brand—give us a call.
This year, 87% of marketers plan to launch at least one influencer marketing campaign. Social proof is huge for Millennials and the up-and-coming Generation Z, and influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to provide that validation they seek. All you have to do is find the right influencers and put them to work. Believe it or not, you may already have the perfect influencers lined up. You’re probably well aware of your most loyal brand advocates—those cheerleaders who have been a fan of your company and products for so long that you even know them by name. What if you let them do what they do best: sharing the benefits of your brand with the world?