Welcome back to our ongoing branding series. Today we are going to diverge a bit from the practical advice we have been providing to discuss how you can tell if the branding advice you are receiving is not helpful for your company.
Many small businesses like to hire branding consultants to help them develop a brand image and strategy. This can be an especially great idea for entrepreneurs working on their first startup, or who do not have much experience or knowledge in the areas of branding or marketing.
When you bring in a consultant to work with your company, you need to be sure you are actually getting advice that benefits you and your business.
Here are some signs that the consultant you are working with is not giving you worthwhile advice:
Overgeneralization of demographics
Whenever you work on establishing a brand image, you want to get rather specific with the characteristics your brand should embody and the profiles of your ideal customers. To that end, extremely broad generalizations of customer demographics will only get you so far.
A common red flag in today’s branding world is when consultants focus on helping business owners reach “millennials.” Let’s just get this out of the way now: there is no single foolproof way to market to millennials. That demographic is so large and varied, with so many factors to take into account other than their age. The clichés used by people to describe millennials as a whole segment are unreliable and fail segmentation tests. But business owners often do not second-guess the “millennial-friendly brand” approach, because they’ve likely been told over and over again that they need to cater to that generation.
Lack of data usage
You should always beware of consultants who either do not ask for a significant amount of data, or who do not seem to use the data you provide them. In today’s world, a great deal of data analysis is necessary to perform market research and create accurate customer profiles. This data will help you develop advertising campaigns, design your packaging, determine your pricing and set your store layout. A good consultant will avoid making any major decisions without first doing some in-depth data analysis.
Overly complex branding concepts
The actual implementation of a branding strategy may be complex, but the concepts you use should actually be quite simple. Beware of brand consultants that fail to keep it simple and try to get you to put your focus into a larger number of branding concepts.
Use of certain worrying buzzwords
Pay attention to the language a branding consultant wants to use to define your brand. Certain buzzwords are bound to set off red flags. The word “innovative,” for example, is used by just about every wannabe branding guru you’ll find in a google search. Today, being “innovative” is no longer a way to differentiate your brand from the thousands of other companies that have chosen that as their buzzword.
The list of clichéd buzzwords is extremely long. If you regularly find yourself thinking, “this doesn’t sound like us,” or “this sounds like it could describe anybody,” then you’re probably getting bad advice and your consultant is probably relying too much on these types of buzzwords.
Bad brand consultants are a dime a dozen in today’s business world, but fortunately there are plenty of success stories out there as well. As long as you know the signs that indicate you’re getting bad advice, the good advice shouldn’t be difficult to find.
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