Branding is NOT easy!
It is not just about giving a name or attractive logo or slogan.
It is one of the most challenging tasks you will ever face as a small business owner.
If you are able to manage these challenges you will be able to build your brand.
Below are the three biggest branding challenges, I have faced as a Marketing and Branding Professional over my 16 years career:
Challenge 1: Cash
The challenge of cash, or dealing with short term financial concern, is the biggest single challenge businesses face.
Executives who deliver quarterly profits are rewarded. However all of a brand’s value resides in the future and the current financial returns are actually a very small part of the total.
However if a manager is forced to choose between investing in a brand and missing a short term financial targets, most managers choose to hit the shorter term numbers. This is usually a career optimizing decision. This ultimately leads to “branding doom loop”.
The doom loop begins with a manager struggling to deliver a short term profit target. To boost sales and profit, the manager deploys a program that have a significant short-term impact, such as price promotion.
To fund price promotion manager reduces investment on brand building programs.
However, as the short term financial results improve, competition responds to nullify the impact of the price promotion, leading to less than desirable results on the medium term.
Moreover, consumers also start expecting promotion and delay their purchases and wait for the next price promotion. Thus the long terms prospects of the brands decline as:
Overall Brand strength declines due to the lack of brand building programs
Price and margins come under pressure due to competitive response
Consumers start expecting price promotions and delay their purchases
The perceived price-value equations shift downwards
Brands get into a dangerous downwards spiral
Challenge 2: Consistency
Brands are created through a wide range of touch points; every time a customer interacts with a brand they form associations.
This means that everyone in a company has an impact on the brand.
Therefore the second biggest challenge of branding is consistency or getting an entire team to live up to the promise over time.
However, if an organization does not understand, believe in, and own the brand, if the message, the brand, and the product are not consistent- the vision remains unfulfilled.
Challenge 3: Clutter
Consumers are bombarded every day by hundreds and sometimes thousands of advertisements and promotions. Breaking through this cluttered environment is exceptionally difficult.
It is hard to get anyone to pay attention to your brand, and harder still to form meaningful associations. To stand out a brand needs to be focused and unique; great branding means something unique in a consumers mind.
Having a clear positioning is a great beginning, but not sufficient. Brands need to create attention by creative advertising and innovative use of media.