There is a stream of consciousness that exists among business development, strategists and consultants. Brands make bad decisions. And when they do, it creates a trajectory. By the time they get out of that trajectory, they have to spend more money cleaning up their business and trying to solve the problems that were created.
In fact, strategists and those in business have fun talking about the bad decisions that happen, estimating the trajectories that will take place as a result. It’s almost like coffee talk for those who see the outcome of blatant decisions that are going to backfire in the end from huge mistakes with a brand build.
Bad business decisions cost millions. Sometimes, it costs the business. Between operations and failed strategies, it leads to problems that need to be unraveled.
Businesses don’t need to sabotage their brands. With strategic approaches, there is the possibility of altering the course of a business and leading into stable growth as a part of the brand build.
Watch these signs for brands that have either reached success through smarter decisions or that have killed their brands by opening up policies, decisions and marketing that creates a backfire.
Stellar to Dysfunctional Operations
Yes, operations make a difference in success. The “textbook method” will play out the need to provide the mission, vision and objectives to team members while making sure that tasks are done. It doesn’t quite work like that. Employees or contractors are much smarter and demand much more. Keep that in mind with your brand build.
Example 1: The Aloof Factor
A business was putting together a new, online presence. They were interested in the marketing materials with a website as well as having placement with blogs, social media… the usual works. But there was an issue. They hired a consultant on one side who didn’t follow the digital world to help with their strategy. And on the other side, they weren’t clear about what marketing materials for digital meant.
Over a time frame of 6 months, the website the individual wanted couldn’t be completed. It was always almost there and then something would happen with the developer to delay and backtrack the site. I knew that the developer was playing a small game, but somehow the owner was not aware of what was taking place. It took 2 months after that to find someone to actually fix the website and another 6 months to actually launch. By the way… that’s not normal.
The consultant started making recommendations but focused specifically on generic ideals, such as target market. None of this was incorporated into marketing materials, brand identity (which wasn’t defined after 4 months) or relationship to the digital presence the client was trying to put together with their brand build.
After 9 months, I saw the business again advertising to do the same thing that had been done before. And again, almost 2 years later, the same process. Each time… it didn’t get done.
The operation that was missing was simple. There were consultants and there were workers. But there wasn’t management. There wasn’t anyone to call out what was happening. To top that off, the CEO was way too busy to see the internal dynamics and what was taking place, remaining aloof of the entire process for marketing.
Result? A very, very slow launch. And, the marketing that did come together took a very long time.
Example 2: Let’s Go Stellar
It’s easy to show how businesses can be dysfunctional. Let’s go for one that absolutely works. Yes, everyone understands what is taking place in the company.
Let’s make it better than that. There is a strategy in place and the people to implement it. And with that implementation are clear explanations of why. Someone manages that to make sure there is follow through and they understand what all the jargon means.
Keep going… there is a positive response. Every day, each individual is able to check in. And, each day there is encouragement of what is working and what is not. As a result, there is a long turn around time between employees.
In fact, many already know what a stellar operation looks like. Why?
Because any time the operations work, it becomes a part of the brand identity and the brand build. Not only is the positive turn something that is internal, but everyone starts to talk about it as the “thing” with business. It’s no longer about products, services or even the company. It’s that the work force is amazing.
It starts with the ability to create positive relationships every day within the work space and to develop stronger bonds that project to the world.
Your operations are that important.
Chasing After Gold & Spinning Wheels
I was recently speaking with a great thinker in the brand identity field. Traditionally trained but had made his way to the top in terms of branding. We both agreed on one thing – tons of businesses had no foundation and were chasing after “what was next” to try to get to the top instead of a congruent brand build.
He called it chasing after gold and I call it spinning wheels. Either way, it’s a brand killer and it won’t work.
Example 1: I Market With Everything
I don’t know how many businesses are managing a blog, social media, YouTube, a podcast, website SEO and outreach campaigns along with emails and funnels. And they work them all to try to make them work.
This business I’m thinking of did exactly that. Everything that they could get their hands on, they did. Even better, they would get advice from a mentor or top marketer about the latest and hottest thing that they should do, then they would add that into their mix, sometimes as a compromise of what they were doing before.
It was classic. They were extremely busy, couldn’t keep up with their work without hiring people and they never actually watched to see if what they were doing was producing results.
Just a hint… most of it wasn’t. In fact, the stats on the site declined each month with some engagement rates decreasing by almost 40% per month.
The two problems… spinning wheels as one. The individual continued to turn what they thought was working because it was driving some traffic. The chasing after gold as two. Any time they could implement something new, they would. No strategy. No second thought. Just go.
The result? Stats dropped like crazy each month and this particular company has no idea how to recover. The reason… they didn’t have a defined brand identity or message to carry them through and to really connect with their customers. To recover from this one they would have to decline almost to the bottom and rebuild with an actual brand identity in place.
Example 2: Target It to Nail It
Let’s turn to a positive. This particular company spent 2 – 3 months doing no marketing. Nothing. Just researching. They looked at market analysis, the greatest and latest research, what they needed to do, what their target market was, their competitors, digital positioning, everything in the bucket for a good brand build.
And they didn’t launch.
Taking that much time in the digital age? Yes… They had tons of reports. Tons of information. And they didn’t want to start on anything. They had the personnel in place. They told them to do nothing but research and think about what they wanted to do. And, the supervisors met with them to see how that came along every week.
After the research and seeding of ideas, they had materials that were already proven through research to work. They were using 2 channels… Facebook and YouTube because they knew that’s where the brand market was. And they focused on core messages that were not only differentiators, but were so creative it was out of this world!
They definitely had a different result with their brand build. Not only was the marketing incredibly simple when they started it, but everything was streamlined. There was no second guessing of what would work and there was no question about how they needed to position in the market.
The conversion rates on the ads, blogs and the website were targeted. That meant they didn’t have as much traffic. But they had granular targeting based on who they knew would respond. That led to conversion rates that were higher than average in the industry… some with ads that were 12 – 15% as opposed to the industry average of 7 – 9%. And, that was before the refinement of their next round of ads which went even higher.
They spent very little with ads and with the extras they had to do. And, they spent very little with doing the extra things that everyone recommended for a brand build.
But their stats aren’t going down and they are getting hot leads… constantly. They are meeting their goal.
Arm Wrestling Customers
This particular approach always intrigues me. Yes, there are difficult customers that place demands. But a lot of times, I see companies that create conflict with customers just to prove they’re right or to play a game to extract money.
Unfortunately, that’s a problem. Customers can leave reviews online. They can also tell their friends. And if you upset them, then they will tell everyone. If you don’t upset them, you are neutral. It is harder to get a positive response than a negative one.
So why are companies creating conflict with customers for fun? And why do they do things that will obviously lead to the trajectory of making customers upset?
I’ve literally seen the fall and decline of at least one dozen companies because they insulted a customer, didn’t give them a refund or simply had bad policies in place.
The solution is simple. Don’t put policies in place that are only beneficial to the company and not to the customer as a part of your brand build.
Example 1: Policies to Drive Someone Away
This particular company basically had a trajectory to get competition by setting policies in place that would arm wrestle customers. I will never understand why.
Their policy set did 2 things. The first was that if they had to provide one of their value add services, it would basically work out of your favour (as the customer) as well as any other individual that was involved in the service. As a result, the company would get the money and the customers would be on the losing side. The problem? It was their main service that they had this policy set up with.
The policy also had another problem. It created continuous, rising prices without allowing the customers on either side to have any value additions or benefits. If you decide to charge your customers more, it needs to be justified either through inflation or the fact that you are providing more value than you did before.
In a matter of 3 years, they literally went from a 5% service charge to almost 30%. That affected their customers.
Guess what the customers did with that policy?
They went to the competition and ditched the company. They also highlighted negative reviews which literally became a trending conversation on tons of websites where many times, the individuals didn’t even know or associate with the company.
Certainly the company thought about this before they decided to continue raising the prices and to set those policies in place. ?
Slipping Your Position
Each brand that truly identifies their uniqueness starts with a position – for their price, placement and where they stand online. So what happens when the business decides to change this without warning their customers?
In good traditional marketing, they work with morphing… a step by step process to allow customers to become accustomed to something new in the brand that is occurring.
I guess that morphing became a thing of yesterday with the Internet. Now, there is the possibility to just go into the back end and change something.
But when your customers know that you make that change and they aren’t used to it, you slip your position.
Example 1: I want more money
This is the most common example and you’ll see it all the time. I want more money. A company, in the beginning, will have a price positioning point that determines where they need to be in relation to their competition and to provide the value service that they really want to (traditionally).
But, as time goes by, it becomes business as usual. Obviously someone needs to make more money for everything to work and spin. And so all of a sudden, the prices surge to a new price.
And customers don’t know about it and then go into a sticker shock at the checkout line.
Guess what happens to that brand reputation?
From now until forever, that brand will be recognised as this: “they raised their prices on me.” Yes… it is that personal. And, it is that offensive.
Business goes around with more money. But it doesn’t work when it happens abruptly and slips positioning. Customers see this as a way of devaluing them as your loyal customers and as a loss in your brand identity.
It’s not a recommended strategy.
Example 2: Here’s where I stand
This is a great example of positioning for the better.
This particular company was working in co-partnership with another company which advertised their products and services. For a while, it seemed like everything was perfect.
Until the co-partnership went sour and the advertising company was withholding leads and using them to sell their own products and services and not hers. She became a poster product personality for the other company.
So she cut the cords… .strategically.
Because the advertising company had so much clout over the other business, she literally had to re-package all of her products, introduce them online again and change her entire brand.
But, she had one thing. The advertising company had allowed her to be the poster product / service personality. And so all the individuals that recognised her now saw that she was doing something “new and innovative.”
Why did this work? Her positioning looked like she expanded. It looked like she not only was a part of the company in partnership, but that she now had completely new lines of products and services that were even more helpful to her client base.
Guess where they went instead?
Her products and services are growing in ways that never could have happened with the old advertising company and partnership. Because she re-positioned her brand name, it revitalised her loyal support and brought in new clients that may have not happened any other way with her approach to the brand build.
What will you do?
If you talk to a strategist, they will let you know predictions, but these aren’t based on their own agenda or intuition. A really strong strategist understands the exact how and why of any decisions based on how it impacts the surrounding environment and domino effects to the next level.
The failure or success of any company is not based on how popular they are, how great their products are or even how effective the CEO is. It has everything to do with whether they kill their brand or if they use top tactics to help their brand build become something greater.
Before any decision is ever made by a company, projections should be made. If you make certain decisions about your company today, who is it going to affect and is it positive or negative? It should be looked at forwards, backwards and sideways. If something doesn’t fit, you are in a danger zone.
It’s not just who it affects. It is what will happen as a result. If it affects someone negatively, will they recover or will it have stronger repercussions. Identify what these are and find ways to soften the blow. If you can’t… there is always another option.
Don’t kill your brand. Instead, maintain a strong identity and make sure that you continue to be recognised for exactly that.
It will pay out with a longer life cycle of your business.