Last week, I posted about 5 signs of a Power Brand. This week, I’d love to share this great list from Derek Daye and Brad Van Auken of BrandStrategyInsider.com, a super blog about all things branding. I’m adding their blog to my list of regular reading. With full credit to their powerful thinking, here are the 10 signs they say indicates a brand is failing. The list itself is to their credit; the “color” and examples are from Red Slice.
1. Your brand is mentioned to customers and potential customers, and there is strong negativity in their response: At workshops I give, people cringe when I ask them to tell me what words and attributes come to mind when I say “Walmart.” Usually it has to do with unfair labor practices and destruction of small local businesses.
2. Your brand’s external messages do not “ring true” with all employees: This is the most common one. A company says they are dedicated to friendly customer service, and you are met with a surly teen at the checkout counter who spends more time yakking to her co-worker than serving you.
3. Employees are not enthusiastic or consistent in recounting what makes their brand special: If you ask 5 employees what the company stand for and what benefits it offer and get 5 different elevator pitches, you have a brand consistency problem – and a confused workforce. Your employees are your #1 brand weapon. If they don’t live out the brand promise, you’re toast.
4. The brand’s market share is decreasing: Sales go down. Enough said. Doesn’t matter if you have the slickest ads or coolest viral marketing campaigns. Effective branding should lead to increased sales.
5. Competitors never mention your brand as a point of reference: If your brand is not stand-out enough for competitors to even be talking about why they are a better option than you are, that means you are not making a dent.
6. The press does not write about your brand: As mentioned in the Power Brand post, your brand should transcend what you sell and you should be seen as a thought leader in your category.
7. Your CEO does not have a strong vision for the organization and its brand. He or she talks more about financial targets than the vision: Vision matters. Mission matters. If your employees don’t know why they come to work every day, then that’s like a General failing to tell his troops the endgame of the mission. Everyone needs to be aligned around delivering the same value – and not dollar value, but customer value. I’ve seen start-ups fold because all they were about was chasing quarterly profits. They never stood for something bigger and more inspirational.
8. Your organization’s leaders never seem to “talk the brand” and “walk the brand talk.” Put your money where your mouth is. People are not stupid. Don’t write brand checks your company can’t cash. Everyone wants to be Apple, but if you deliver ugly, inferior, outdated products, then I’m sorry, you can’t claim to be like Apple. Walk. Your. Talk. Only promise what you are actually set up to deliver. Or, promise what you want, but then you’d better make sure you shift operations, policies and marketing to back it up.
9. Your organization fails to attract and retain high quality employees: When we talked about a Power Brand, we mentioned that customers and employees are proud to work with you. The opposite holds true as well. Good brand attract good talent. Failing brands do not.
10. Your brand fails to build customer loyalty: If your customers fall prey to discounted prices elsewhere or won’t drive the extra mile to your shop when there is a competitor closer, you have failed to build an emotional and connective brand. People go out of their way for brands they admire. Trying to rig the system with temporary discounts just to drive sales is a short-term solution that won’t have any lasting effects. That just means they are loyal to the price you are giving them at that time, not to you.
Any other signs you see when a brand is failing? Please share in the comments.