Creativity Means Nothing if You Can’t Deliver on the “Brand Promise”

Inc. magazine recently put out an entertaining list called “Top 9 Brand Blunders of All Time.” Most of these blunders were one-off decisions or short-term campaigns that had a major—and negative—impact on an established brand. These blunders highlight some key mistakes, both practically and conceptually, when it comes to branding.

For starters, what is the true meaning behind the concept of a “brand?” Is it a catchy tagline that customers will use to tie your product to a value proposition? Is it a snappy logo that draws the eye, a memorable jingle that sticks in a target audience’s head, or a catchy company name?

The most critical thing that many people overlook when it comes to branding is that branding is not just the company name, logo or tagline. A brand represents the “personality” of a company or product and, consequently, is created based on every single interaction, contact or impression that individuals have with the organization or product.

As Sujan Patel points out in an article for Entrepreneur, when you create a brand identity, you want to have specific guidelines for every aspect of your brand to maintain as much control as possible over the public’s perception of that brand.

That means brand management must be focused not just on clever designs and advertising, but on ensuring that every contact point between the company/product and a potential or existing customer serves to support the desired brand image. Too many people and organizations fail to do this and, consequently, regardless of how much money and time they may spend on advertising and promotion, their brand-building efforts will fail.

Another major misstep found in branding efforts is a singular focus on creativity for creativity’s sake. Creativity without purpose is meaningless and represents wasted effort. Effective branding is about alignment—determining your desired brand position, identifying how consumers currently view your brand, identifying the gaps, and then taking steps to close those gaps along all components of the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. Creativity means nothing if you can’t deliver on the “brand promise.” Brand is not about creativity; brand is about experience.

Ultimately, managing a brand is like guiding a ship in a rough sea. Too many organizations have a false sense of control over their brand. You can’t brand your company yourself. The best you can do is manage your brand. Your audience defines the brand based on their perceptions of you, your products and your services.

What personality (brand) do you wish to convey to your audience? How do they currently perceive your personality (brand)? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out!

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