Branding as a subject is often confused with marketing and advertising, thus leading to some avoidable mistakes. A look at six such branding mistakes that companies often commit.
The biggest mistake Indian companies make when it comes to branding is their very fragmented approach to the subject. When a company says they need branding, for most it may mean anything from a website to a logo, giving a name or simply creating a brochure or a print campaign. However, branding is a fairly structured and linear process that needs to be carried out in a scientific manner. Elements like a logo, name or advertising are important but very small blocks in the brand puzzle.
The fragmented approach is more to do with the lack of understanding about branding and what constitutes it. For a lot of people branding is the same as advertising. However, branding is not limited to advertising, but includes customer experience design, communication in the form of advertising, presentation of your products and services and every little action that you do among a host of other elements. If you treat them in communication in the form of advertising, presentation of your products and services and every little action that you do among a host of other elements. If you treat them in isolation, a company will end up building a brand that does not speak and act the same story when different parts are combined in front of the customer. Almost every company in India, including large players make the mistake of working with a fragmented approach.
The second mistake that companies make is to treat branding as something that is merely transactional in nature or something that is directly going to drive sales. Branding is not intended to drive sales directly and is more about building equity and value so that it triggers sales or can be monetized in various other ways in future. The process of branding builds upon one of the most important assets of an organization, the brand, that goes to the balance sheet. Branding is a long-term route to success and often does not result in immediate gratification, an expectation that blinds most marketers resulting in poor decisions while building a brand.
Branding is not Public Relations
The other mistake companies make when it comes to branding is to equate it with PR. For a lot of people branding is all about image management – maybe through PR or other means of communication. This is not necessarily true as there are two sides to a coin for any company or product that is well branded. One is definitely communications, but the other side is customer experience. A company can keep communicating and reaching out to people, but until it delivers on its promises, everything comes to naught. Customer experience also needs to be designed in a manner so that it does not deviate from your message to the customer, which in turn derives itself from the brand definition.
Brand definition and internal alignment
Another common mistake companies make is that they straightaway get into execution and do not even bother to define their brand. They may have a communication strategy in place, but they will not have a brand definition and this affects the company in their ability to scale to the next level due to inconsistencies. On the other hand, when there is indeed a definition in place, it stays in the manual and does not get implemented with perfection. For any brand to convince people that “this is what I am and this is why you need to buy me”, the internal stakeholders need to first believe that. If people within your company do not believe in your brand, there is little chance others outside the company will.
Companies need to realize that employees need to be aligned to a clear brand definition.
A brand is not forever
Another common mistake that companies make is that they think brand value is absolute and final. People think once a brand is made, it is done for a lifetime. However, this is incorrect as even if you have created brand value or equity that can be monetized, brand value is a moving index that changes with time. What makes things even more complex is that brand value as an index is difficult to measure in real time. This also means a company or product can be a great brand for one customer, but for someone else it may not. Therefore, brand value is not absolute and companies have to appreciate that it is relative to each customer and even if it is high for one person, it is not constant. If I have a good experience with a company, the brand value goes up a notch. If the second experience with the company is equally good it may not mean a proportionate rise in the brand value as I expect the same level of service from the company. However, if the experience is not good, the brand value falls drastically.
A bad experience worth Rs 100 is far more damaging to the brand equity than the benefits of a good experience worth Rs 100. Hence, a company needs to take care of an overwhelming number of factors to create a strong brand. A company cannot take things lightly and has to ensure that you innovate and comply with basic rules of branding to keep the brand value constantly high.
Many companies that have created a strong brand think they can extend the same brand to other businesses with ease. This is one of the biggest fallacies for corporates as brand extension has proved to be a graveyard for many established brands when practiced without prudence. While you are trying to do something new under the same brand name, you can end up ruining the existing brand equity too. If you are good as a brand in mobiles, it is not necessary you would be good in LED TVs. It is a different market all together with a different set of players, different customer motivations and different brand leaders. Simply by putting your name on a television does not make you a strong brand in that product category.
This is one of the most obvious mistakes companies make when they try to extend their brand name and equity to a new business and this can be a costly mistake. This is especially true of a B2B company getting into a consumer product, where they think they can transfer the B2B equity into the B2C market. This is almost impossible to do and brands fail to understand that as they look for the easy way out.
Economic Times 26 May, 2015