Brand mistakes entrepreneurs must avoid
- By Jack Preston -
- Jul 09, 2012
At Virgin we’re always interested in learning from past mistakes, after all, like everyone else we’ve made our fair share. One of the objectives for a company, be it a young start-up or global corporation, is to get their branding right. Therefore we were intrigued to see that we’d been featured in the Washington Post’s look at branding, so is there anything to be learnt from the likes of Virgin and Apple?
“Your brand isn’t just a logo and a name; it’s part of your business plan. It’s the promise you make to customers about what they can expect in all interactions with your people, products, services and company, shaping sales, employee adoption, decision-making and more,” explained Anthony Pappas of the Post.
“While there’s no cookie-cutter model for building a brand, there are a few cardinal mistakes that every start-up should avoid. Never...
1. Mimic the success of others
Consumers value individuality, and having a strong point of view will help start-ups elevate their brand. Consider Apple: While its competitors were defining themselves as tech companies, Apple positioned itself as a lifestyle. By building a brand centered around products with a focus on sleek design, simplicity and individuality, they built a following that valued their vision and brand essence.
2. View your brand narrowly
Brands should be built from the inside out, permeating throughout the entire organization. For example, Patagonia was founded by legendary climber Yvon Chouinard, who placed a heavy emphasis on sustainability, environmentalism and transparency right from the start.
3. Neglect to engage your customers
In order to be truly engaging, start-ups must create a personality for their brand, interact with customers, and be a natural extension of their target audiences’ personal interests. TOMS Shoes was hugely successful at building an army of brand advocates early on by transforming the traditionally superficial act of shoe shopping into a charitable act that gave customers a sense of purpose. They created an experience that socially conscious Gen X consumers, and consequently their friends, wanted to be a part of.
4. Lose sight of your aspirations
A start-up’s brand should be something that will live with them forever, so it’s important that entrepreneurs ask themselves, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Aspirations drive decisions organizationally and help define brand architecture.
For example, Virgin started out as a small record company in 1970 built on a unique set of principles: value for money, quality, innovation, fun and a sense of competitive challenge. Today, Virgin has evolved into a multi-billion dollar international investment group. All along the way, Virgin has held steadfast to their ideals, no matter what sector — whether it’s travel, mobile, lifestyle or entertainment, they create the same brand experience for their customers.
5. Break your promises
If companies don’t deliver on their brand promises, their customers will hold them accountable. Recently, the social networking site Path learned this the hard way. In their mission statement, Path says that the social network “should be private by default. Forever. You should always be in control of your information and experience.”
Yet earlier this year, they were ousted for collecting contact information from their users’ iPhones without consent. So when Path’s chief executive justified the behavior as an “industry best practice,” social networks erupted with outrage. After the fact, the start-up apologised for the mistake and corrected the error, but the entire ordeal could have been prevented had the company kept their brand promise.”
Are there any golden rules that have been missed out? Do you think the likes of Apple are a good example to follow? Maybe you think we’re missing a trick here at Virgin, let us know below…