The Four Follies brands must avoid at all costs…
Brands, like the best of us, sometimes get it wrong. Horribly, hilariously wrong.
Andrea Meltzer, Strategist, Brand Union gave us the lowdown on some things that will make your brand look downright silly. Avoid at all costs.
- Nonsensey brand speak
If someone has actually taken the time to click on your website, and has then clicked on the ‘about us’ section, they are really interested in your brand (think of how many you have visited lately not for research purposes). But nonsensey brand speak will put these people off quicker than you can say ‘synergy’.
People want to know simple things like ‘who you are, what you do, why it matters’. The reason your brand exists.
The first step in doing this is ensuring your brand has a strong and distinctive brand purpose and values. Really interrogate the Simon Sinek ‘why’: be that little kid who won’t stop asking it.
And then you have to articulate these extremely clearly. Avoid clichés at all costs. As someone who writes these regularly, I know how much easier that is said than done (oh no there I go again). Just remember people (not ‘consumers’) will be reading this. So speak to them in a language we understand. Not in the ‘brandish’ only spoken in agencies.
- Looking at, but not seeing your logo
Working in a design agency, we know there are a million and one things to look for in your logo. Kerning, alignment, ratios or scale become something we have trained our eyes for. So it’s somewhat understandable that we may miss something glaringly obvious to everyone else.
“Look for the cats bum” I once overheard our creative director saying to a young designer. And she is completely right. People love to spot the sordid in the ordinary. Unfortunately to do this you have to take off your designer hat (not the Ted Baker one, the ‘Helvetica only’ one). Try step away from your machine. Ask someone in finance. Just make sure that if there is something suggestive in your logo it is either intentional, or that you are the first to spot it.
- No brand tone
The other day my bank messaged me and said:
‘Banking app, cellphone and online banking unavailable Sunday for systems upgrade.’
If you’re struggling to work out what ‘brand tone’ is from that example that’s exactly my point. Brand tone should be a distinctive way that your brand speaks to people. Think of how Nandos is consistently irreverent, cheeky and funny.
So when my bank, the same bank that passionately promised on TV to support me all of my life with whatever I need, sent me this message; I wondered what had changed. No ‘sorry’ or ‘we’ll continue helping you build your dreams on Monday’.
Being inconsistent with the way your brand speaks to people will make your brand feel at best, inconsistent; and at worst, seeming insincere.
But if you establish a fitting, appealing brand tone and use it whenever you’re communicating with customers (yes, even those extremely functional messages), you begin to build something easily identifiable and appealing for your brand. So when you’re composing that error message just remember, these are the same customers you are trying to woo with your high budget production TV ad.
- Your brand name means something terribly unfortunate somewhere else
In South Africa we have 11 official languages, and lots more unofficial languages to describe the lewd and vulgar. Beyond that, thinking that you will never expand out of your geographical region is simply pessimistic in this age of connectivity.
So this makes naminger tricky. You first have to find a name. One that you like. One that reflects the brand purpose and positioning. No mean feat.
Then you have to effectively test it. ‘A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world’: try to get as much anecdotal feedback as possible. This will give you a good idea of reaction, as well as effectively checking your name doesn’t mean or sound like something smutty in any language. And it will test for cultural nuances that you may not otherwise pick up.
No-one need ever enjoy a ‘cream collon’ again.
So in conclusion:
“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others” – Someone made their product ‘child flavoured’ so you never have to.