Top 4 Fundamentals That Could Be Stalling Your Brand

Having a healthy and vibrant brand is not something you can take for granted. Over time it needs basic care and nurturing to stay fresh and growing, like any other living thing. Here are the top four “brand misses” we typically identify when we take on a client.

“You Just Don’t Look the Part.”

Perception is everything, particularly for people who have yet to hear about you. In Hollywood, the first criteria for casting someone in a role comes down to whether they look they part. Looking the part of a successful company means reviewing and updating your key imagery from time to time, including your logo. Even if you have a good one, it could benefit from a fresh take. Consider an evolutionary move. Henry Ford did it. Apple has done it. You can too.

While you’re at it, have a proper Brand Style Guide created. One that includes the key Pantone colours that make up your logo and any typefaces you use as part of your core imagery. And make sure any suppliers you work with who are producing material for you refer to the guide so your look remains consistent.

Perception is everything, particularly for people who have yet to hear about you. Better their first impression is that you’re a vibrant, leading player. Not an extra.

“Your Beauty Shots Are Not Beautiful”

If you’re using stock photos on your website or in collateral materials, your brand may be suffering from a poorly stocked, or badly underfunded, Brand Image Portfolio.

Stock imagery is not what ad agency folks recommend but it can be cost effective. It can also be dull and boring if you don’t review your imagery regularly and update. Better yet, invest in your own Brand Imagery Portfolio that has the tone and character of your brand. It will cost more but it will also save you the embarrassment of having a competitor use the same royalty free images in support of their branding.

“You’re Mumbling Your Lines.”

Another chronic condition that hampers a brand’s ongoing success is wonky messaging. At some point, most businesses struggle to articulate and/or update their key promise to customers. Some get it right – Nike’s got ”Just Do It,” and Budweiser has “King of Beers”- and leave it alone. Others need to look deeper to find their core message.

A few years back, we took on the KODIAK boots account. After an extensive review of the brand, we discovered its authenticity was waning. And this was Canada’s iconic boot brand! In collaboration with their marketing team, we discovered the firm could legitimately date its origins back 100 years. That kicked off a whole slew of strategic decisions and tactical elements to celebrate the company’s centennial.

Maybe you don’t have a milestone coming up (if you do, consider enlisting Blade to help you leverage it). But the point is, when you are reviewing current messaging, or crafting new messaging, find the truth behind what your firm is all about and develop messaging that is simple and memorable. You’ll then want to use that messaging consistently so you’ll be ready for your close-up when fame calls. 

“Your Audience Losing Interest”

One question we love to ask new clients is, “When was the last time you asked your customers how they feel about your brand?” It’s rare that companies don’t want to engage with customers, but many don’t have a managed, scheduled process that reaches out to customers and measures their responses.

In the dark years before the Internet, this effort was time consuming and costly, relying on phone calls, letters in the mail, door-to-door or store-by-store coverage. The web has made reaching out to customers easier, cheaper, and faster. E-mail newsletters, online surveys and a host of desktop and mobile apps can be tailored to your needs to keep the lines of communication open at all times.

Invest in reaching out to your customers regularly or at least give them the opportunity to contact you via email or instant messenger – In fact, 1-on-1 social messaging has emerged as a trending topic in 2019. Just make sure you respond to any issues or concerns with 24 hours, even if only to say “We received your message. We’ll be in touch shortly.” That show of good faith creates good will and, just as importantly, buys you some time to make things right before your customers head for the doors.

Focusing on branding fundamentals from time to time is essential if you want to know where your brand is at and where it should be headed. These elements and others – from the way your people answer the phone, to making it easy for customers to read and pay their invoices – are all part of making your company and your brand a star.


Wayne S. Roberts

The Globe and Mail calls Wayne S. Roberts "an ad industry provocateur." Maybe its because he's never seen the point of playing by the ad game rules that place awards above results, while offering spec work instead of real value to win accounts. Throughout his career, Wayne has maintained a defiantly independent streak characterized by his insistence that agencies must be honest, direct and passionately invested in their clients' success. His pioneering work in espousing the brand community perspective has been a touchstone of his belief that branding is more than just logos, websites and ad campaigns; it is the fundamental way human beings connect with each other to create communities and launch movements that have changed our world.

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Wayne S. Roberts