The Top 15 Excuses for Not Building A Brand and How To Answer Every One of Them

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I’ve heard plenty of excuses that people give for not building a brand. In the minds of the people uttering these excuses, all seem like valid answers for maintaining the status quo. The only problem is, your potential customer doesn’t care about your excuses for not attempting to position yourself in a unique way. They’ll simply fail to see that you exist.
There are no excuses for not building a brand. None. You think yours is the valid one? Think again. You either choose to build a brand or get out of the way of forward-thinking, passionate people who will find a way to make it work. If you choose not to build a brand, you are afraid of failure. Period. That’s why I’ve taken the top 15 excuses I’ve heard for why a company chooses not to engage in brand building and hopefully shot a hole as wide as the Grand Canyon through every one of them.

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The Top 15 Excuses for Not Building A Brand and How To Answer Every One of Them

  1. 1. The Top 15 excuses for NoT BuildiNg a BraNd aNd how To aNswer every oNe of Them By daN gersheNsoN 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com
  2. 2. I’ve heard plenty of excuses that people give for not building a brand. In the minds of the people uttering these excuses, all seem like valid answers for maintaining the status quo. The only problem is, your potential customer doesn’t care about your excuses for not attempting to position yourself in a unique way. They’ll simply fail to see that you exist. There are no excuses for not building a brand. None. You think yours is the valid one? Think again. You either choose to build a brand or get out of the way of forward-thinking, passionate people who will find a way to make it work. If you choose not to build a brand, you are afraid of failure. Period. That’s why I’ve taken the top 15 excuses I’ve heard for why a company chooses not to engage in brand building and hopefully shot a hole as wide as the Grand Canyon through every one of them. 1. Branding costs too much. The Truth: No, it’s not that branding costs too much but that you’re not viewing it as the investment that it needs to be. You think a brand is something you put money into here and there like a piece of equipment. In a very basic nutshell, a brand is the feeling that people get about your business. So by not spending money on your brand, you’re saying there are months that you don’t care what people think about your business. Oh, you do care about what people think, you say? It doesn’t matter. With an excuse like this, you risk a perception from customers that you do not care about them. You may also think branding costs too much because you have to brand in more than one place on a consistent basis. Welcome to the practice of trying to communicate with human beings. Different people require different types of multiple impressions. Acquiring these types of people and maintaining their loyalty demands nothing less than a sustained effort. The real reason you’re saying it costs too much has nothing to do with cost at all but that you’re afraid of making a commitment to go down a road you haven’t gone down before. Even though it’s likely a more prosperous one. 2. Branding’s a great concept, but it will never work around here. The Truth: That’s too bad for you because the reality is that branding isn’t an option. You either do it or bide your time coasting along until you’re forgotten about because somebody is doing 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com
  3. 3. a better job of saying and displaying key messages than you. And that’s really only a matter of time if it hasn’t happened already. Your competition thanks you in advance for your choice. 3. I totally believe in branding, but this is a big ship to turn around with a lot of layers. Change takes time. The Truth: Sure, no problem. Meanwhile, your more nimble competition will be working on their branding initiatives and making you look as slow and cumbersome as you say you are. But please, take your time. 4. We’ve done it this way for this long and things have worked out OK. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The Truth: That line of thinking is broken and has been proven faulty by entrepreneurial thinkers at every turn. Just ask Richard Branson. Steve Jobs. Ray Kroc. Henry Ford. I’m sorry… did you not want to aspire to join that kind of group? 5. I ran an ad once and it didn’t work. The Truth: Wish you’d called me because I would have told you to save your money with that attitude. Brands aren’t built through one of anything. Not one ad, one postcard, one TV spot. Plus, you may have made the common mistake thinking that branding is the same as advertising. It’s not. Advertising is but one possible tool to help a business build a brand and not even necessarily used in some cases. Branding is an integrated approach to marketing. And please don’t associate that with costing a lot of money either. I’ve seen many a brand built on small budgets using multiple components. 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com
  4. 4. 6. I already use (Insert one tactic here) and that seems to be doing fine for me. The Truth: You’re doing “fine”? Well, strike up the band and let’s have a parade. Except for one thing — I’m quite sure that nobody with a mindset to do great things aims for “fine”. People who aim for “exceptional” results have the guts to build brands. Maybe that’s not you. 7. Our business is not doing well and needs to save money everywhere we can. The Truth: Your business will fail if you don’t attempt to build a brand because it’s the single greatest tool for describing your unique differences to the world. So you saved yourself a few bucks printing in black-and-white instead of color. Now turn around and put it back into the investment of trying to sound different, which when successfully done, will generate the sales you currently lack. 8. We know we should get around to branding but we’re too busy with the day-to-day stuff. The Truth: Sure, no problem. Tell you what — right now, there are some customers who should get around to seeing you. But they can’t because they don’t know about you or why they should choose you versus your competitors. Because you don’t have a brand. Why don’t you tell them that you’ll have to get back to them because you’re too busy with other day-to-day stuff. I’m sure they should take that well. By the way, branding is day-to-day stuff. 9. We need to study our options on branding further. The Truth: Go right ahead. But don’t dawdle. Your competition sure as hell won’t. Again, branding isn’t optional. I should also mention that whatever you talk about within your own walls in regard to branding will only matter so much anyway since you’re not talking to your customers and prospects. Until you do that, all you’re doing is communicating to yourself. Really. 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com
  5. 5. 10. We don’t have the support staff in place here to help build a brand. The Truth: There are agencies that can take certain brand support responsibilities off your hands if need be. And if you think they’re all too expensive, you haven’t looked hard enough. There’s no time to do that? Make time. Today. Hey, exercising isn’t fun but you have to invest the time to get the results you eventually want. In this particular scenario, it’s actually easier than exercising because you’re hiring someone to take a lot of the brand building off of your hands (as if someone was exercising for you and you were getting the results!). Start conducting a search, look for who connects with you and your team on a creative and personal level (don’t underestimate the importance of the personal part either), then put them to work toward getting the results you want. Don’t put it off or, like lack of exercise, it’s going to catch up with you in a bad way. 11. I’m a big fan of branding but I can never get (Insert approving authority figure’s name here) to get on board with the idea. The Truth: Ask that person what their plan is if your three largest clients leave tomorrow. Oh, that will never happen? Are you sure? And do you really want to find out? A well-executed brand strategy at least gives you a fighting chance of acquiring new clients — and quite possibly, retaining existing ones. An organization without a brand is just a company. People don’t love companies. People love brands. Why? Because a brand isn’t a profit-and-loss statement or your other typical corporate entities. It’s an emotionally-based approach tailored around what motivates the customer’s true wants and needs. It’s a conversation rather than a report. When people love brands, the friends of those people and investors love that brand too. More often than not, that love translates into sales and positive press. Who in their right mind doesn’t want that? 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com
  6. 6. 12. You really don’t see branding in our industry because it’s difficult for companies to do and say things that are that much different from our competition. The Truth: You’re not digging deep enough to find your best quality to position your company in a distinct way. So instead, you’ve decided to throw up your hands, say “oh well,” and communicate the same crap as everybody else because your company is too comfortable. An industry that doesn’t do a lot of distinctive branding actually sounds like an opportunity for you — if you have what it takes to seize that opportunity, that is. 13. I need some guarantees that branding is going to work. The Truth: Sorry, there are no guarantees. None. If somebody tells you they can guarantee results from branding, they’re lying. Think about it. How can anyone make guarantees when you’re putting the final decision in the hands of someone other than you or the people communicating on your behalf? The answer: You can’t. Unless you have some kind of mind control device that I don’t know about. That said, there are ways to minimize your risk. Look at it this way. Branding is a lot like the stock market. Nobody can make guarantees about how far a stock will go up or down, but you can minimize your risk by diversifying your assets. In the realm of branding, an integrated brand campaign (assuming it’s the right mix) is one way to do that, allowing you to sprinkle your brand message across different kinds of media. 14. It’s on the agenda, we’re going to do it — we’ve just got X, Y and Z to do first and then we’ll get started. The Truth: No offense, but I doubt you will. You’re already putting things ahead of branding, so it’s not a priority. And because of that state-of-mind you have, when you are finally done with those items on your plate, you’ll likely replace your current priorities above branding…with other priorities above branding in the future. 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com
  7. 7. 15. I get the concept of branding, but I’m uncomfortable trying to cater to specific audiences. I’d rather play it safe and try to speak to everyone. The Truth: That’s not safe. It’s stupid. You can’t be everything to everyone. Nobody can. There’s not enough time and there’s not enough money. In fact, the more you try to be everything to everyone, the more you’ll blend in and won’t stand for jack squat. The smarter way to go is to sufficiently research which target audience gives you the most bang for your buck, is the most likely to find your product or service attractive and will become loyalists to your brand (not just customers). Once you’ve identified this audience, you want to drive your message toward that distinct group. Not surprisingly, more distinct targeting often makes for more distinct branding. The best brands in the world essentially say, “this is what we stand for and this is what we don’t stand for. You’re either on board with that or you’re not.” And before you say that these types of brands have the finances to make such an exclusive statement, you need to understand that the very concept of being distinctive does not equate to spending a fortune. It equates to being strategically, creatively and consistently intelligent with your message. 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com
  8. 8. It’s up to you now whether to engage in branding or make another excuse. In reality, your prospective customer will have the final decision on your success. But I can safely say this much — if you choose to make another excuse about why you don’t want to stand out to them through branding, I’m very confident they won’t excuse you for it. As Creative Director of The Creative Underground, a brand development agency with offices in Boca Raton and Chicago, Dan Gershenson has helped a biopharmaceutical company enjoy its best year ever, a country club obtain a budget surplus of $700,000 and a beer company take down the likes of Budweiser, Miller and Coors in head-to-head competition. If you want to follow him and his agency further, follow him on Twitter at DanOnBranding or connect via e-mail at dan@thecreativeunderground.com. on shens Dan Ger ireCtor eDiv Creat 2.60 09 6 F. 561.8 62.6 004 ite 30 0 t. 561.8 rD., Su Park e t to . Palm 4 33 70 0 0 W , Fl 3 3 raton Boca oun D .com DON’ Dergr T JUS iveun T Dan @t hecre at BUIL BUILD A DAB B awa RAND UZZ. th rene ss is a . ings nice sh o u start ld ran . Bu t like k mu we b sellin ch hig eliev g p ro h er t eaf cust d u ct han a ew o m er . a nd ware you li s to motiv nes s ke w s p re ating . ildfir ad th e, lea e goo loyal ding d wo to m rd ab o re s out old p ro d u ct. 7000 W. palmetto pk. Rd., suite 300, boca Raton, fl 33433 • t 561.862.6004 • f 561.862.6009 . . www.thecreativeunderground.com

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