Huge Mistake Branding Agencies Make

Mistake image

You need to grow revenues. Your brand works hard for you, but it needs some help. It’s tired and just not as competitive as it should be.

Time for a branding agency to step in.

You talk to your peers and search away. A short list of worthy contenders dukes it out, and you make your pick. Harry & Mary & Mo climb on board and like all good agency teams, immediately set about to learn what is going on with your brand and your customers, consumers, partners and all those stakeholders that touch it.

They review your historical data; conduct interviews, surveys and keyword searches. It is stimulating and revealing.

Well, maybe not all that revealing. Much you already know. In fact, you and colleagues probably told them most of what they played back to you regarding the brand picture today.

Yes, they did present an interesting insight from their learning, and by golly, some of the brand work from that insight is really cool.

Stop there. From this point on you are wasting your time and money.

Here’s why.

Almost all interview and discovery work is based on today. What people think of the brand today – strengths, weaknesses, gaps, and opportunities versus others and so on.

That is all very well but if the context for the exploration is not in the future and what the role of the brand will be in that future then it’s just an exercise in design with little chance of being relevant in a year or three and with slim chance of competing for growth.

 One way or another I have seen thousands of brand development proposals and results/recommendation presentations. Many are indeed creative. But most give little credence to where your business needs or wants to go and how the brand will help make that happen.

You cannot possibly build a successful brand strategy unless you understand how the company will grow, what brand target will make that happen and what role the brand will need to have in driving that target to achieve the growth.

 A trendy watchmaker was shown how to make their brand even trendier, but the work forgot to understand how the brand was going to survive the impending onslaught of like competitors. A cursory look at their growth path revealed it wasn’t so much the cool design factor that would grow their business but their foothold in a female gift-giving market that could propel them through the next five years no matter what the competition did. This strategic shift dictated the entire brand approach. Still trendy but focused on gift giving wonderment.

A major wholesaler in the food business was continuing to move their tenured brand along the expected path of selection, reliability, and supply when a planning session revealed the enormous opportunity to service the food safety part of their business. So much so that the entire company decided to focus all sales and marketing efforts there over the next five years. As such, the brand would morph into a bold leader in food safety. Big, deliberate move that they would not have taken with their brand unless they looked down the road.

A world-class snack maker had allowed their brand to assume a rather quiet role in a wide portfolio of products and distribution channels. All fine and dandy and a brand refresh was well fresh. However again a squint along the growth path revealed a huge reward in sales and profits if the brand aggressively focused on one channel only, not all. The focus informed the new brand work and is helping push sales and EBITDA to record levels.

The world famous motorbike brand entered the digital world with much chaos. Some thirty-two ‘official’ websites emerged with differing tones, messages, audiences, and offers. Strong brands can survive this chaos but over time competitors with fewer distractions take advantage. Not one person responsible for the brand at any of their agencies bothered to sit with the company leaders and ask the difficult but critically important question of where the company needed to be in sales or profit in the next three to five years. As a consequence brand work continued but confusion reigned, and two major competitors began stealing share through direct digital relationships. A new agency did ask the right questions. They found a way to reduce the number of sites to one and greatly strengthen the brand’s focus and customer outreach.

The list goes on, and the story is typically the same.

Building brands for today is an exercise in competitive disadvantage. Building a brand for rocket growth is courageous certainly, but as oft said, if you don’t know where you are going you will never get there.

We live and die in rocket growth and helping brands focus on their trajectory not on their logo. Font gazing saps your future. Call us.