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10 Ways to Sabotage Your Brand:
Milestones on the Road to Ruin

Sometimes when I talk about branding, I’m preaching to the choir. Other times, I’m talking to a brick wall. It reminds me of the Gary Larson cartoon about what people say and what dogs hear. Blah, Blah, Blah; yada, yada, yada: branding. (Somewhere between “choir” and “wall” is my attentive fan base—hello to both of you.) Now, just to see who’s listening, here without further ado, 10 Ways to Sabotage Your Brand.

  1. Remember “everybody” is your target audience. Try to be general so you can be all things to all people. Don’t limit your appeal by tailoring your messaging to a defined audience.
  2. Keep your brand devoid of personality. Once people know your style, they’ll develop expectations.
  3. Make sure your marketing messages contain vague platitudes that will help you blend in. Include clichés like, “unique,” “mission-critical,” “one-stop shop,” and “full service provider.”
  4. Don’t let your logo divulge any expectations about your organization. Once people have a feel for what you offer, you will filter out some of the uninterested.
  5. And, by all means, avoid using a professional to develop a logo that is based on concept and reasoning. If forced to use a professional, vet any ideas presented with a) your wife’s cousin who’s had a painting class at the local rec center; b) your wife/husband/mother because they will have to look at it all the time on your business card; and, c) a committee (see below).
  6. Always make any branding and marketing decisions by committee. People who are not your target audience, who don’t know what a target audience is and who have no understanding of the goals for your marketing program, should be recruited for the group. Be sure that the committee is chaired by someone who thinks money is wasted on promoting the company.
  7. Pick colors for your logo and promotional materials based on what matches the wall color your spouse or decorator picked for the office. Wouldn’t want to clash with it.
  8. Once you have the logo, allow employees and vendors to add their creative touches to it: change the color, decorate it and re-proportion it. No one wants to be boxed in by a consistent image. When people see the same old logo all the time, it just gets stuck in their heads.
  9. Don’t monitor promotional activities that employees participate in where they use the logo. Allow them to use logo when they buy a sponsorship of the wet t-shirt contest at the racetrack. I’m sure it won’t impact your brand image, since you’re also sponsoring little league. You don’t want to discriminate against someone’s personal choices.
  10. Make sure that every salesperson designs his/her own sales materials and presentations. Individuality is king. If your materials start looking like you belong to the same organization, you lessen the opportunity for deniability. Declaring, “Oh no, we never made that claim! Why that doesn’t even look like one of our brochures!” just won’t wash.

While there are many more strategies to put your branding on a fast track to hell, this is a good start. Check them off. Collect all ten and you are well on your way to becoming the AIG of branding. You go!


Next Issue:

The whole enchilada: why a la carte marketing won't give you full results

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