While it's important to have a great product, creating a brand that stands out is where many companies struggle. How do you know if you have a weak brand? Are there any clues to look for? And at the end of the day, if you don't know why you're different, how can others? This is no more apparent than in B2B branding.
From construction to manufacturing, business owners are under tremendous pressure to make wise choices for the good of the company. However, your current brand strategy may be hindering that growth. Together, we’ll walk through the tell-tale signs that your business may be suffering from a weak brand.
1. People in Your Organization Struggle to Find Motivation...Including You
How you and your employees feel about coming to work each day says a lot about branding.
People want to feel like they're making a difference. This is true from the entry-level new hire through upper management. You want the same.
Is steering this ship starting to feel like a daily grind? Are employees feeling undervalued and easily replaceable?
You haven't created a clear vision for your company, and a brand people can rally around.
It's no wonder companies with poor branding pay their employees 10% more. That's because the owner has a strong sense of social awareness. Money is the only reason people stick with a weak brand. And the owner ends up spending more for less productivity.
2. Your Brand is Forgettable
Has this happened to you? As soon as you stop bombarding people with ads, the traffic stops. Most forget your company exists. As a result, your customer acquisition costs are through the roof.
You can't get people excited or generate that Internet and real-life word-of-mouth that turns a B2B company into a magnet among your ideal customers.
You don't want to sound egotistical, being the only one talking about how great your company is. But if you don't, who will? You'd much rather other people share their experiences, encouraging those like them to check you out.
What would a strong brand vs a weak brand do differently?
A strong brand implements a brand strategy that creates this buzz. It generates exponential awareness and growth.
This continually fills the top of the funnel. It generates more and higher quality leads. And it speeds the timeline from MQL to SQL to “won-deal”.
3. Your Logo Doesn't Say Anything
A logo isn't just a pretty image. It sends a message.
FedEx has a hidden arrow in its logo.
The Starbucks mermaid is a siren of ancient lore, drawing people in with its song... to enjoy a Nitro Cold Brew.
The lowercase t's in Tostito's are people partying around a bowl of salsa.
Logos don't have to be complex to send a clear message through the right color schemes, shapes, fonts, stylizations, and subliminal messages. Strong brands use their logo to tell the story of the experience they deliver to their customers.
4. You Don't Know What Your Audience Really Wants
You have a clear idea of your target demographic—age, sex, industry, and position in the company. However, looking at your target customers through this lens alone can leave you with a very narrow and unhelpful understanding of what customers want or need from you.
This isn't just about your product. Future customers need different things at different stages in their buying decisions.
They take a buyer's journey:
- Awareness. They learn they have a problem.
- Consideration. They find out solutions that exist and begin researching them.
- Decision. They determine which solution best fits their needs and which company can provide it.
Now, you've given them what they needed during the awareness and consideration stages—helpful content about the problems they face and possible solutions. When they get to decision-making, you're already on their short-list.
To understand what they need at each stage, you must develop a clearer understanding of your target audience. What motivates them, and how do they make decisions?
You can create well-defined buyer personas by collecting identifiable and non-identifiable data about your ideal customers and how they interact with your brand.
Sources of data you may have access to include:
- Email analytics
- Third-party cookies
- Social media analytics
- Ads analytics
- A/B testing
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Account records
A buyer persona is a composite representation of your ideal customer personified so that you can communicate with them like a sales rep would have a conversation with a customer one-on-one.
As an aside, that's how we hope we're communicating with you right now. Like we're sitting in a room together looking at ways you build a stronger brand and reap all the rewards.
5. You Lack a Brand Voice
Similar to your logo, your brand voice communicates a message beyond the words you speak.
A brand voice is critical to establishing your brand identity. To find your brand voice, ask these questions:
- What does my brand want to say or do? (Key message or mission statement)
- What are my brand attributes?
- How would I tell a friend what my brand is all about?
- Who is my target audience?
6. Your Branding is All Over the Place
Weak brands don't know what they want to be today. Sometimes, this isn't because you have no brand. Instead, how someone communicates your branding may be up to individual interpretation.
This lack of cohesiveness can generate distrust among your audience. They don't know which version of you they'll see today.
That is if it generates anything at all. Memory is critical to brand awareness. A prospect must develop enough familiarity with you to start making mental connections between your company and what you're all about.
With inconsistent brands, prospects are constantly seeing you for the first time. They have no frame of reference and no prior experience to build on—even though they may have seen your ads and content many times.
And so much of this is subconscious. An estimated 95% of why people buy is not active decision-making.
Conversely, a consistent brand builds equity. Every time prospects see you and know it's you; you earn a larger percentage of that equity. Get up over 50% and you're controlling the conversation.
This happens on both an individual and community level, as you now have a larger percentage of the voice in your industry.
This isn't just hypothetical. Studies show consistent branding can increase revenues by 23%.
One way to start tackling this inconsistency is by creating a brand guide. It defines how everyone in the company should communicate your brand identity, which includes:
Visual Brand Identity
- Logo. Approved logo versions and unapproved variations, along with logo sizing rules
- Graphic elements. Textures, icons, dividers, bullet points, animations
Verbal Brand Identity
- Naming conventions. How you refer to products and services, and how you use and define acronyms.
- The tone of voice. How you relate to people only, your overall personality and attitude.
- Tagline. Your promise in a nutshell? Make it catchy and memorable
- Messaging. What words, statements, and concepts do you use to reinforce what your brand is continually
At LAIRE, we also found ourselves face-to-face with this a few years ago. But the good news is that we looked at what was going on and didn't like what we saw.
We systematically started to reshape our brand. This included creating a brand guide for the very first time.
Not sure where to start? We walk you through it step-by-step with examples.
7. You're Attracting the Wrong Crowd
This is a sign of weak branding that can manifest in many ways.
- Slow growth
- High acquisition costs
- High customer churn
- Low-quality leads
- Animosity between marketing and sales
Bottom line: Weak brands can generate a lot of awareness. But that's not translating to paying customers.
8. You Have No Brand Strategy
A brand strategy is a formal plan for how you'll influence how customers, prospects, and employees see you.
It not only outlines what your brand looks like but how, when, and where you'll communicate that brand to others. Every brand strategy should include 5 core elements:
- Vision - What is your brand setting out to do?
- Mission - The actions you take to support the vision.
- Core values - What do you believe in, and what sets you apart?
- Brand behaviors - How do you authentically show your core values?
- Positioning - What's different about you? And why should they choose you?
- Brand promise - What is your commitment to your customers, employees, and/or the community? How do you express the impact your brand has on others?
9. Disloyal Customers
Companies with solid brands know loyalty exists, and it's more vital than ever.
Generating loyalty is worth its weight in gold. Not only do you have increased customer lifetime value. Happy customers today have many more ways to express their appreciation for your brand.
On average, a happy customer will actively tell at least nine people about their experience with your brand. But they could also potentially tell hundreds or 1000's through:
- Social media engagement
- User-generated content
- Sharing your articles, newsletters, and videos with other decision-makers
74% of consumers say they feel loyal to brands that make them feel "understood" and "valued". How does a brand show this?
- Buyer personas. Be clear about who your target audience is and attract the right people. Show that you "get them" and know that they
- Journey mapping. Use analytics to understand how people travel the buyer's journey. Create content that supports each stage of that journey.
- Be helpful first. Focus on solving immediate problems first.
- Personalization. Use analytics and automation to deliver the most relevant and helpful experience to each person. Fifty-two percent say they feel understood when you can recommend products and services they'll actually use.
- Improve user experience. 44% say having an easy-to-navigate website makes them feel valued.
- Creating brand alignment among internal teams. Customers feel valued and loyal when marketing, sales, and service communicate the same messages.
10. Your Branding Feels Out-of-Date
This isn't uncommon. Maybe you got into business for one reason, but your reasons have changed.
People grow and evolve. So do brands. The world around us is changing too! Your brand no longer represents you.
Or maybe you've never had a clear vision in the first place. It's becoming clearer day by day. But you're finding it hard to get your branding up to speed.
Sometimes, brands need to undergo a hard reset rather than slowly trying to bring branding up to speed.
We're not saying it's easy. But deciding to rebrand is like pulling the bandage off all at once so you have room to grow into the newer strong brand you're capable of becoming.
11. You Keep Your Brand Under Wraps
If you suffer from this brand weakness, you know that something clearly makes you different and better than your competitors.
But you don't share it with others. Maybe you're afraid of giving away your "secret sauce" and losing some competitive advantage it seems to give you.
Unfortunately, if you're not leveraging this difference, your competitors will find a way to pull the rug out from under you. What's worse, they can make it look like they were the first to use your recipe.
It's much better to get your brand out there. Don't let there be any question that you're the pioneer in the industry.
Time to Rethink Your Brand Foundation
You can start systematically improving your brand strategy and reshape how customers see you, today. Need inspiration? See how one financial brand developed a new brand experience.
It's never too late to revisit your brand's foundation and evaluate whether it's helping or hindering your ability to meet goals. It's natural to feel attached to the old brand. But if it's not working for you, let's find out why.
Brand weakness isn't a sign of personal weakness. This happened over time. The good news? You can turn it around and LAIRE can help: