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How to Ruin a Brand (without Really Trying)

September 25, 2014 |

While improving a brand can be a painstaking process, ruining a brand is actually quite easy and many companies don’t even realise it’s happening until it’s too late. Since SGD provide branding services to our clients, we think it’s important to examine why you want a rebrand and what you hope to accomplish with the “new look.”

A sure-fire way to ruin a brand is to offer a substandard product. No amount of rebranding can salvage a tarnished image if you’re still putting out a product that nobody likes. Once the flash and glitter fade, you’ll be left with those same negative reviews. So that’s why it’s imperative that you stop and ask yourself why your brand needs reworking in the first place. If the product is good but you just want to tap into a new client base or refresh your image to keep up with trends, that’s fine. But if you’re trying to revive a failing business with a new image, good luck. You’re better off taking the money earmarked for rebranding and spending it on improving your product.

Another killer is bad customer service. First of all, you should be selling a product that doesn’t generate a lot of service requests for repairs, refunds, etc. That will make it easier to manage the requests that do come in. However, you’ve still got to be there for your customers. For instance, “24/7 customer support” should mean exactly that: around-the-clock personal service, not a busy signal or an answering machine.

Believe it or not, your own marketing tactics can damage your brand as well. Your audience won’t respond well to unfounded claims that you are the “best,” “industry-leading,” etc. Instead, give them the opportunity to praise you, especially if some of them write for the media. Let the quality of your product/service speak for the company. On the flip side, you’ll do more harm than good by attacking a competitor’s brand. Sometimes simply including them in the conversation is enough to gain them more publicity at the expense of your own company. Again, if your product really is superior, it (and the positive reviews it receives) will do the talking for you.

Also be careful about linking your CEO too closely to your brand, particularly if you’re a small business. It goes without saying that an uncharismatic CEO won’t help your image, as your brand will take on his/her negative features. But the same is true if your CEO is popular and photogenic: if he/she leaves the company, what will happen to your brand? It’s better to build your brand on customer experience.

Last but not least, there’s social media, with which many companies have a love/hate relationship. When it comes to social media, a good rule of thumb is to “think before you tweet.” That is, you should consider all the angles before posting content on sites like Facebook and Twitter, because while a carefully timed and cleverly written post can delight the masses, a lapse in judgment can cause all hell to break loose. When posting content, show respect and sensitivity. Know your target audience inside and out. Be mindful of public perception of current events and of your company’s reputation. Don’t hijack trending hashtags without researching their context; don’t share inappropriate content; and don’t ask questions if you’re afraid of the answers.

At SGD we strive to transform your brand into something special, tailored to your clientele. But it’s up to you to wow them with excellent products and customer service.

James Fulton

A multimedia and design professional with a healthy obsession for all things web. James’ passion for web design sees him stretching his creative imagination to eternal limits and forever sees him thinking outside the box, even if it is not work related. James’ ideas are original and innovative, and implementing them into the world of the web to create aesthetically enjoyable websites is what he does best.

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