What’s holding your brand back? – Brand Limiters Pt. 1

How to shape your clients' perceptions of your business

Working with clients I often talk about “Brand Limiters,” which I define as areas that prevent a company’s clients and prospects from forming a clear image of the company. The first Brand Limiter is a lack of understanding of how comprehensive a brand is.

Here is my definition of a brand:

BrandThe place you hold in the minds of clients and prospects based on their perceptions of the value your products and services provide.

Read: Why branding still matters

The brand represents every interaction the customer or prospect has with your company. It is your logo, brochures, website, advertising, office, sales force, customer service department, etc. More importantly, it is their perceptions, not your perceptions.

Branding – The process of creating a favorable, unique brand in the minds of clients and prospects.

Read: US brokers combat “cartoon” marketing by directs

Effective branding is very difficult because everything a company does must consistently reinforce the brand the company wants to achieve. Depending on the level of loyalty a customer has to the company, one negative interaction can undo years of positive perceptions.

From our experience and research among senior sales and marketing executives, we found that the Brand Limiters that have the greatest negative impact on branding are (in rank order):

1) A weak value proposition – Not clearly defining what you do, who you serve and the value you provide.

2) Lack of differentiation – Even if you have a strong value proposition, if it is not unique or you don’t promote it more actively than your competitors, you will be put in the “me too” category.

3) Lack of brand alignment with operations (sales, customer service, etc.) – No matter how compelling your messaging, if it is not reinforced by client-facing employees, your messaging will be wasted and only create confusion.

4) Poor marketing communications – Inconsistent or poorly executed marketing communications will confuse clients and prospects, and make them wonder if they should do business with you.

5) Changing brand focus too often – Companies that change their branding every year do nothing but confuse clients and prospects.

6) Ineffective market segmentation – Not having a clear focus on your best current and potential clients causes you to waste resources on markets with low probability of being profitable clients.

7) Failure to refresh the brand often enough – The opposite of number 5, you need to evaluate your brand occasionally to make sure it is still relevant and resonates with your target markets.

8) Over extension of the brand – Trying to claim ownership of a market where you have little expertise can damage your core brand with current clients.

So how can you avoid these Brand Limiters? Click here for part 2.

Bill Fellows is the president of Top-of-Mind Branding, a marketing and branding consulting firm in Yardley, Pennsylvania, USA. He has held marketing positions with AIG and Munich Reinsurance America, and has worked as a consultant with other property/casualty companies. He has also worked for a number of business services companies. You can read his blog at www.whatisabrandhq.com. For more of Bill’s writing for citopbroker.com, click here.


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