Are you Making the Most Common Branding Mistake?

by | Jul 21, 2016 | Empowered Professional

Do you know the most costly, but most common branding mistake?

What do you think a brand is?

  • A Logo?
  • Packaging Design?
  • A Slogan?
  • Promotional Items?
  • Marketing Strategies?

This is the mistake!

The most common branding mistake is thinking that a brand is an external attribute of a product or service, such as a design, image, or a color. However, a brand starts at a much deeper level, down in the foundational level of the benefits, results and solutions you and your service or product provides.

So what is a brand?

A brand is a promise. Specifically, a brand is a promise of the quality you’ll receive.

Here’s a great example…

My daughter loves baking. Pies, cakes, pastries, and so forth. Her friends know this fact very well. So every year, they ask her to bake them something for birthdays and various holidays. On one such occasion, she was asked to bake a pie right in the middle of school finals week. While she wanted to make her own pie crust, but she just didn’t have time. So she shuffled over to the grocery store to pick up a pre-made pie crust.Most Common Branding Mistake

When she came back, she let out a sigh and said, “I had no idea how many brands of pie crust there were! It was hard to choose, but I saw Pillsbury and knew that had to be good, so I chose that one.”

An important side note: my daughter has had terrible food allergies her entire life. She’s never eaten a Pillsbury product!

The Dough Boy got her! Years and years of hearing the Pillsbury brand promise of a high quality flaky crust caused her to trust the name, even when she had no first hand knowledge of the quality.

The promise of the benefit is what the brand is all about.


Do you know what promise you are making to your customers? If not, do you know how to figure it out?

Here is a step by step method to discover your true brand.

1. When developing a brand, start by determining the promise you want your brand to represent. You need to determine the benefits results, and solutions your product/service provides. To better understand what we mean by this, make two lists. Make one list of the specific products/services you provide and make the second list of what you actually sell.

Let’s say you’re in the financial services industry. In the first list, you would write things like retirement planning, insurance, securities, etc. What you actually sell, however, is what those product offerings produce for the client. Therefore, in the second list you might write things like peace of mind, security, or stress-free retirement.

2. Next you create your brand message with value propositions. A value proposition is a clear, simple statement about the benefits, results, and solutions your product or service provides without mentioning your specific products/services.

Consider the brand messages of established insurance companies, such as “You’re in good hands with Allstate” or “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”. These statements contain the underlying benefits these companies PROMISE their clients, mainly, safety and security. At Pici & Pici, our brand message is, “Gain an unfair advantage over your competition.”

There will be times you will want to shorten your message for greater impact. Whatever the message, also find additional ways  to state it in three words or less. For example: Diamonds are forever, Just do it, or Breakfast of Champions

3. Finally, you are ready to select images, logos and colors that accurately transmit your brand promise.

How do you make your branding design choices? How about your colors? Most of the time, when starting a business, we choose the images, designs, and colors based on what we like. We choose the things that “speak to us”.

But wait…who are we serving? Ourselves or the client? Isn’t the point of having a business to serve the client?

If a business exists to serve the client, then our brand image, design, and yes, even the choices of colors should be intentional, meant to appeal and to serve the client. All of the design elements must work together to clearly speak your brand promise message.

A few final thoughts about branding:

Get Noticed

The most effective brands…

  • Create a visceral response. They elicit an emotion or thought process that pricks the imagination of the viewer.
  • Are uniquely easy to remember.

Be different, be distinctive. When we selected colors for our brand message promise we checked out the competition. Most other sales training firms had blue, grey and black. To stand out and represent the unique difference in a husband and wife sales training team, we chose hot pink and black. It is memorable and distinctive.

It’s OK to get going without everything in place

Your brand promise message is all you need to get started. Too often new entrepreneurs spend a boatload of money on their design elements only to find after working with their clients that these elements do not fit their target market.

We decided to work with our target market first and let the brand develop over time.  Below, you will see some very embarrassing materials we used at the beginning.Early Brand Materials

They did not have that professional ‘look’ but they DID speak to our brand message promise and with them we netted 6 figures in our first year of business. After two years of training in various industries we had deepened our messaging and were ready to choose color and design elements.

Consistency in communication averts confusion in clients

As you discover your brand message promise, make sure it is clearly transmitted by all of your images, text, and design.

Protect your credibility score

Maintaining the integrity of your brand promise is the key element for the long term success of your business. Ultimately, you and the external results (the customer’s experience) is your brand. The old adage for business is still the best: Under promise and over deliver. Do what your say your going to do when you said you would do it.

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