7 Brand Messaging Mistakes {And How You Can Avoid Them}

August 30, 2016

While it would be nice if building a brand were as simple as making a grilled cheese sandwich or learning how to tie our shoelaces, the reality is, it requires a high level of strategy, consistency and intuition that can take a fair amount of trial and error. Luckily, like a masterfully executed grilled cheese sandwich, successful brand messaging can yield exceptionally satisfying results {and you don't have a work it off at the gym later, so that's a win in anyone's book}. Here are seven common branding faux-pas and how to use them to stand out from the crowd:

 

1) Discussing Features Rather Than Benefits:

Don't get me wrong, features are important, and you definitely want to give your audience access to that information, but ultimately, features only matter in correlation to their benefits. Smart branding motivates the customer by communicating how each feature works to their benefit and what rewards they can gain from them. You may get a solid "huh" from a first time mom by telling her the new washer she's looking at has a sanitizing steam cycle but she's much more likely to make a connection to the product if you tell her she can sanitize items like decorative pillows, stuffed animals and the like after her teething six month old goes wild on them. 

 

2) Not Starting With Why:

While we may like to think we make decisions rationally, in truth we make them emotionally. This is why it's important to build your brand around WHY. Not only should your client be able to understand why your product or service should matter to them, but you should be searching for each client's motivating factors in your one-on-one conversations with them. Understanding and hitting on people's motivators is one of the fastest ways to create connection and brand loyalty. After all, everyone wants to feel understood.

 

3) Not Defining And Speaking to Your Target Audience:

Without knowing who your target audience is and what they care about, creating effective brand messaging becomes overwhelming, muddled and may reduce even the strongest entrepreneur to fits of tears or analysis paralysis. Become crystal clear on who your audience is and make the mission of your brand messaging to sweep them off their feet. If you're in a field where your target audience is intrinsically a broad range of people {real estate for example}, resurrect the advice your mom gave you before your junior prom and be yourself. Branding with authentic personality inevitably attracts like-minded individuals and makes for sensational professional relationships.

 

4) Having a Weak or Nonexistent Value Proposition:

Wrestling with what sets you apart from others who provide the same product or service can be tough, but it's a must. Companies that don't understand or communicate this in their brand messaging are easy to pick out; their words lack a clarity and confidence and they run the risk of becoming a one hit wonder or struggling to get their feet off the ground all together. Know why someone should choose you and integrate this underlying philosophy into everything your company does.

 

5) Not Sticking to Your Value Proposition:

Nobody likes to feel bamboozled. Be reliable in your promises and stay consistent. As your company grows, surround yourself with others who align with your value proposition and do everything in their power to stay tough on that standard. Inconsistency and false representation breed mistrust and ultimately result in fragile brand loyalty.

 

6) Staying Stagnant:

New problems arise every day and if you're not responding to the evolving struggles of your target audience, you can guarantee someone else is. Continue to develop new ways to support and problem solve for your clients. Anticipate their needs and introduce messaging and systems to intercept these issues before they even think to ask. Taking time to focus on how your brand can adapt to new challenges will keep clients and consumers looking to you for value.

 

7) Being Outdated:

Brand messaging is not a one-and-done endeavor and it's not just about the words you're using; it's an evolving presentation that aims to create a mental, emotional and visual connection to your company. Not to go all Mean Girls on you but, in this instance, looks do matter. Spend time {and money if necessary} to keep your audience engaged with your brand. This may mean sitting down every year {or every month depending on your industry} to redefine what your target audience is, what aesthetic and experience they're looking for and evaluating how your brand can better encompass that idea.

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