The 10 Most Common Branding Hurdles & How To Leap Them

The 10 Most Common Branding Hurdles & How To Leap Them

Branding. It sounds simple enough… so what can go wrong? Lots, says branding expert Tania Farrelly.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking just about visual design here, I’m talking about the whole box and dice of brand particularly for service businesses. Lets look at the most common hurdles we encounter on the path to creating and maintaining a great brand.  And importantly, how to leap over them.

Hurdle #1. The idea that a Great Brand is about a logo (and it’s size) … isn’t it?

I hesitate to put this mistake in for fear it will insult your intelligence. But still…. one of the #1 things I hear from marketers when reviewing communication, “We need more branding”. When they’re really asking for a big fat logo.

Logos are just visual shorthand for a whole suite of emotional associations choreographed over time. So the idea that you are achieving branding by increasing a logo by 5, 10 or 20 percent is one part fairy-tale, one part madness.

The Leap: The whole communication piece should be a relevant, entertaining expression of brand. If it’s not achieving these things, a big logo wont make up for a lack of brand meaning.

Hurdle #2. Everyone involved in a branding exercise probably has a different concept of ‘brand’

Ask 10 people to define brand and you’ll most likely get 10 different answers ranging from a promise, to a set of associations in consumers’ minds and worst of all “just something marketing does”. And while many are true – you can see how we can get tripped up.

The Leap:Workshop the idea of brand with the team, review some popular and not so popular brands; decide what they mean and what they’re doing right or wrong and agree a team ‘definition’.

Hurdle #3: Thinking creating a brand is ‘Marketings’ job

No. The brand is the business and the business is the brand, this is especially true in service industries where your brand starts with business PURPOSE -closely followed by cultural values, benefits, tone and a kick ass ‘star’ product.

The Leap: All of this must be championed and modelled by the leaders who serve their staff . Everyday, 100%.

Hurdle #4: Thinking a rebrand is the solution for a sick brand

Some businesses think by slapping a fresh coat of paint on their tired old brand they can spruce it up with a bit of visual iconography. While this might attract interest in the short term – it’ll make matters worse in the long term. See point #3 .

The Leap: Fix the business, the people that run it or the people who work in it. Otherwise the old problems will remain and consumers /buyers will be more disenchanted than ever.

Hurdle #5. Not getting emotionally involved

Brands are built on emotions and people buy on emotion. When they don’t buy on emotion, guess what? They buy on price. So how do you get to this intangible holy grail?

The Leap: The first thing to do is figure out what emotions you want people to experience (beyond trust and reassurance – they’re given). Deliver these positive vibes through the product experience first, then reinforce through use of advertising, ambassadors , social media, sponsorships, brand engagements , ‘likeminded brands ‘, creating a character … the list is endless.

Hurdle#6. Seeing Mission and Vision Statements as the be all and end all

While these statements can be very important business compasses – unfortunately -they usually become at best, framed dust gatherers or at worst stimulus for ‘behind closed door’ laughs amongst co-workers. Why? Specialists in the area of Leadership and business performance ‘Leading Teams’ found in their recent survey…
“40 per cent of workers couldn’t remember their organisation’s mission statement. The impact can be profound; those team members that didn’t know their business’ cultural values were more unhappy in their job and thought poorly of management practices.”

The Leap: Focus on a mission which lends day to day business purpose ‘ we exist to….’ and decide how to live these things daily.

Its great to be ambitious but ground that ambition in good behaviour. The old paradigm rings true….(Remember your Under 15 Netball or Footy coach?)… ” Focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself. ”

Hurdle #7. Using lazy words like Integrity, Quality and Honour

Please. Of course every brand and business wants this. But for heaven’s sake define what you mean.

The Leap: If you want your brand to have integrity what are the commitments it is going to uphold? What are the penalties if it doesn’t? What at a leadership level does this ‘integrity’ look like? How will you tell if it is and isn’t delivered on a daily basis. Dig deeper. Be specific.

Hurdle #8. Disconnected Brand Values and  KPI’s

Your brand values are your culture – or will be. To create a great culture the people within it need to BEHAVE in a certain way – from the boss down. (see Hurdle #6). How do you ensure this behaviour happens?

The Leap: Link the desired behaviour to reward and recognition. They need to be part of people’s KPI’s.
Uncompromisingly simple.

Hurdle #9. The Temptation to start from the ‘outside in’

Too often brand strategies are created by external ‘suppliers’ (like me) many of whom use secondary research to ‘come up with’ a brand strategy which is somewhat divorced from the reality of the business. (Not like me). While these strategies are undoubtedly brainy and likely creatively clever – if your people don’t :

a) ‘get it’
b) ‘ feel it’
c) feel like they can deliver it and
d) see a connection to their KPI’s

It wont work.

The Leap: Always start inside out. It starts with your leaders and staff. They should be along for the ride from inception to birth.

Hurdle #10. Expecting consumers (& staff) to embrace change without explanation or involvement

So lets say you’ve flown over these hurdles and ended up with a brilliant holistic brand strategy along with a new look and logo. Your job isn’ t done.

The Leap: The hard work begins in communicating change internally and externally; getting people to be involved with change and own it. Help them really understand WHY and HOW you’ve changed. Take your customers along for the ride , especially your advocates and let them understand , benefit and celebrate the change. They will become great mouth-pieces for you.

If you take the leap over these top ten – you’ll have the inside running to a great (long term, meaningful and sustainable) brand.

Happy times ahead.

Tania Farrelly is the principal at Tania Farrelly Brand Strategy & iSPY Research

Please login with linkedin to comment

ADMA Global Forum My Local Auction

Latest News

Does TikTok Really Make Sense For Microsoft?
  • Opinion

Does TikTok Really Make Sense For Microsoft?

In this guest post, Alex Watts (pictured), DDB Sydney Head of Social, discusses his thoughts on the potential Microsoft/Tik Tok acquisition and whether the deal actually makes any sense for Microsoft… Trump is calling for a ban, China’s calling it a “smash and grab,” but the real question is – does buying TikTok really make sense for Microsoft? TikTok is […]


by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
QMS Sport Rebrands As Media Tech
  • Media

QMS Sport Rebrands As Media Tech

Following QMS’ acquisition of TLA Worldwide (Aust) last year, QMS Sport has today announced it will transition to the TLA brand and formally become a business unit of TLA. ‘Media Tech’ is officially the new name for what was formally known as QMS Sport, and will operate alongside TLA’s existing business units that span the […]

Design Studio Nightjar Launches Publisher Platform For Sneaker Freaker
  • Uncategorised

Design Studio Nightjar Launches Publisher Platform For Sneaker Freaker

Sydney-based design and technology studio Nightjar have launched a new website for Sneaker Freaker. Founded in 2002, the street culture magazine is the first and only international footwear magazine. From its roots as a DIY-style fanzine to today’s global coverage, its print pages and online platforms document every colab, custom, limited edition, retro reissue, Quickstrike, Hyperstrike […]

Former Haystac Head Of Strategy Launches PR Toolkit For Small Businesses
  • Advertising

Former Haystac Head Of Strategy Launches PR Toolkit For Small Businesses

Haystac’s former National Head of Strategy, Haylie Marchant (pictured) has launched The PR Toolkit – an online resource and DIY PR platform educating and empowering small and medium sized businesses to do their own PR. Offering a mix of free resources and easy-to-use how to guides, the one-stop-shop for DIY PR covers media relations, media […]

Malcolm Turnbull & Janine Allis Elevate BIPOC Voices In Australia With New Series
  • Media

Malcolm Turnbull & Janine Allis Elevate BIPOC Voices In Australia With New Series

One Love Australia has launched a new social change initiative that will see a raft of high profile individuals, including former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Boost Juice’s founder, Janine Allis, take part in a video interview series set to turn racism on its head. The initiative – titled #ShareThePlatform – will see these […]

Omnicom’s Resolution Digital Named As Google Honours Agency Of The Quarter
  • Advertising

Omnicom’s Resolution Digital Named As Google Honours Agency Of The Quarter

Resolution Digital has been awarded the Australia’s Agency of the Quarter award in the prestigious Google Honours program. The Honours program for 2020 recognises the achievements of the very best performance marketing agencies and providers across Australia and New Zealand. The program consists of 3 quarters, 43 agencies and over 500 individuals; measured on account […]

Perth Agency Firefly Adds Six New Accounts & Launches New Media Arm
  • Advertising

Perth Agency Firefly Adds Six New Accounts & Launches New Media Arm

Firefly has brought on six major new clients as it continues to expand, adding new media planning and buying arm to its business. Managing Director Andrew Mathwin (pictured) said the independent agency, known for clients such as Air New Zealand, Buy West Eat Best, West Coast Eagles and Mrs Mac’s Pies, had a strong year […]