branding mistakes

5 Best Ways to Ruin Your Brand

What are the best ways to destroy your brand, and can a company ever come back from the edge of ruin?

Whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise, you work hard to create a brand that connects with customers. No matter how hard you work toward establishing trust and building brand loyalty, your success is more fragile than you think.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, unintended consequences can lead to ruin.

One PR misstep, faulty product, or data breach can do irreparable damage.

What are the best ways to destroy your brand, and can a company ever come back from the edge of ruin?

5 Best Ways to Ruin Your Brand

1. Spreading Yourself Too Thin

There’s a general mindset in business that says “More is better”. If one thing works, why not add two, three, or a dozen more?

However, there’s a fine line between expanding your product line, sustainable growth, and spreading yourself too thin.

One of the most important aspects of branding is consistency. When you try to introduce too many product lines at once or reach too many markets, you pull focus and confuse the customer.

You remain on-brand by doing one thing, and doing it better then the competition. When it does come time to grow or expand your market, do it thoughtfully and strategically.

2. Failing to Put Satisfaction First

We all want to put the customer first, but too many companies pay lip service to customer satisfaction. They make promises they can’t keep, force customers to jump through hoops to get support, or think that simply rebranding will fix a problem.

If you’re going to make promises about performance or features, make sure you back them up with reliable products that deliver as advertised. It may cost a little more to do things right the first time, but you’ll get a solid ROI in terms of customer satisfaction, social proof, and repeat business.

When you promise responsive customer support, make sure that customers can reach the right department without getting the runaround, that there are multiple methods of contact, keep help desk turnaround times to a minimum, and always follow up.

Satisfaction also applies to employees. Low staff morale due to understaffing, unrealistic deadlines or duties, and an overall toxic work environment contribute to staff and customer churn. That’s bad for business.

3. Micromanagement

I once worked for a franchise that had a set of rules all staff were forced to follow under threat of write-ups, retraining, or termination if they didn’t follow them to the letter. Unfortunately, these customer service guidelines that were cooked up by someone who has obviously never worked with customers were the very same things that our customers complained about when asked for feedback.

Micromanagement on any level can ruin your brand by robbing staff of their autonomy and sense of purpose. It leads to mistrust, stagnation, and sometimes even sabotage.

You don’t hire the best people just so that you can tie their hands. You hire them because they’re good at what they do, they offer a unique vision, or they bring something new to the table. Trust your team, empower them, embrace change, and welcome new perspectives, and then watch your company grow and thrive.

4. Making it About Your Brand

One of the biggest mistakes in branding is putting the focus on the brand or a personality rather than on the customer. Consider each time a CEO becomes the public face of the company and retires or is ousted in shame. Think about tone-deaf tweets or social media posts during times of social upheaval or a natural disaster.

Marketing is about raising brand awareness, but that is best done without making the brand – or a person associated with your brand – the central focus.

Avoid this mistake by putting the emphasis on the customer experience and how your brand adds value to that experience. Listen to the customers, engage with the public, and get involved in conversations rather than trying to steer the narrative.

5. Taking the Negative Route

It would be a mistake to think that you can further your brand by attacking the competition. Like the schoolyard bully who eventually gets his comeuppance, this will ultimately backfire and end in humiliation.

Besides, there’s enough negativity in the world.

Engaging in brand or personal attacks, spreading rumors or gossip, and other negative lines of attack are unproductive. Even when such negative behaviors are embedded in your corporate culture rather than your marketing strategy, they’ll eventually seep out into the public sphere and poison your brand perception.

Never attack a brand or brand spokesperson by name. Instead, focus on how your brand improves the customer experience. Rather than rewarding bad behavior within the company, incentivize unity and strive for excellence.

The Importance of Proactive Brand Management

When you’re running a business, you spend a lot of time worrying about marketing, budgets, and product development. But, what about your reputation?

You know on the surface how important it is to present a good public image and furnish social proof of your brand’s effectiveness in relation to its promises. In fact, up to 80 percent of your perceived worth comes from intangibles like brand equity and good will.

It’s not good enough to go into recovery mode after the fact. We’ve all seen those sad “I’m sorry” videos. At best, they come off as too little, too late. At their worst, they’re contrived and disingenuous.

In order to protect your brand, it’s essential to engage in proactive reputation management. When you’re authentic and transparent, people trust you, Even if you make a mistake, recovery is shorter and less costly.

If you don’t protect your reputation, your brand will suffer from:

  • Public scorn
  • Possible legal action
  • Loss of revenue
  • Low staff morale

All of these factors contribute to public perception, which in turn lowers your value in the consumer market and the stock market. You’ll lose credibility, customers, revenue, and limit your ability to attract investors or otherwise obtain funding.

Final Thoughts

Your brand is only as good as its reputation. By being proactive, you can avoid common mistakes that will lead it to ruin.

How solid is your brand?

Consulting with a branding expert from Level343 will provide you with an objective analysis of your vulnerabilities and strengths as well an an actionable plan for lasting, sustainable branding.

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