4 Ways To Avoid Brand Suicide

Your brand is everything. It’s what people think of when they see you, your logo or one of your products. It’s also what can make or break you in business.

Are you doing everything you can to protect it? Perhaps you think you are…but sometimes you can hurt your brand unintentionally by making one of the following mistakes.

Lying or cheating

If you think about it, the one thing that you should be doing as a brand is building up your integrity. Your brand is going to be visible to everyone. When people see it, they should think good things about you…not bad things.

That seems obvious enough. In fact, it seems like maintaining good brand equity should be the easiest thing to do, right? All you have to do is…

  • Keep your promises.
  • Make sure all important information is front and center and not hidden in small print.
  • Be honest and direct, using simple, clear language.
  • Give money back if you offer a money-back guarantee without hassling the customer.
  • Educate everyone about your offers.

Where I see a lot of companies fail is with that last one on the list. They fail because of a lack of communication…not for shady tactics. But to the customer, it certainly seems that way.

When you roll out a new marketing campaign you have to build a strategy into the plan to share the campaign with your salespeople and customer service reps.

You can really create bad feelings in your company when customers know more about a campaign than your front line people do. You can also bring down brand integrity when customer service doesn’t handle your campaign according to plan and customers start to feel distrusted.

So whether you engage in intentional or unintentional deceptive practices, you are eating away at your brand. Want to see how big of a problem this is? Just visit The Consumerist.

Behind in social media data mining

No doubt you’ve joined the social web. And I bet it’s probably safe to say that you also left your MySpace page in the dust and now frequently use Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you’ve even signed up with a Google+ account.

I wish I could say that you are doing great, but in this fast-paced world of digital media, it’s near impossible to stay ahead. Just being six months behind the curve could mean the difference between getting a client or losing them to a competitor.

That means you need to innovate to compete, retain customers and improve your market share. Did you know you can use your social media data to do all that? For example, Spigit is a company that can help you use your social media audience to improve your brand through data mining. Here are a three of their programs:

  • Employee innovation – Engage your employees for their ideas for product improvement and development.
  • Facebook – This program initiates contact with your Facebook audience that allows you to cluster ideas for customer satisfaction and improve loyalty.
  • FaceOff – This app allows users to post ideas, vote on ideas and can help companies identify their early adopters and social influencers.

You may think that you are building brand equity by being on the social web. But everybody is on the social web. You have to be on the cutting edge and actually use your networks to build a brand profile that customers respect.

Neglecting your brand

Why might someone ignore building their brand? Well, I’ve known business owners who believe it didn’t impact their business. They felt if you couldn’t measure it, then you shouldn’t invest in it.

I agree that if you can’t measure it, then you shouldn’t invest it. But I do believe that brand is something you can measure.

You can’t afford to ignore your brand anymore. Social media is changing the marketing process into one that collaborates with customers before a product is created, and companies are having one-on-one conversations. Ignoring this change and the impact it has on your brand can put you at a serious disadvantage with competition.

Get rid of a dirty brand reputation

Ever since the introduction of social media, a company’s brand reputation has been increasingly vulnerable. In fact, nearly 70 percent of executives in a recent survey of 703 said as much…but interestingly enough they didn’t view online techniques as important tools to building their brand.

Another interesting bit of information is that while surveys agree that the reputation of the CEO is linked to a company’s reputation less than 40 percent have Googled their name. Most executives use the web to spy on their competitors, but they never quite think to turn the microscope on them and their brand.

In the 2011 Technorati State of the Blogosphere report, the majority of bloggers said that the overall behavior of a brand influences their blogging decisions. Another 20 percent said they even boycott brands.

In the end, ignoring your online reputation is not how you deal with a bad brand reputation. You can turn it around only by facing the brutal truth and then working tirelessly to clean it up.

Branding isn’t a project. And it’s not a process either. It’s certainly not a stage of your product or business development. It’s really core to what you and your company is all about. And it never stops. Are you doing everything you can to protect and promote it?

Neil Patel, VP of Marketing at KISSmetrics