To Brand, or Not to Brand: Business Suicide

posted by Zack Spear
Read time 4 minutes

It’s commonly known by business owners everywhere that branding is one of the biggest keys to growing success.

By creating a brand, companies develop a name for themselves, and become easily recognizable by their customers. The key to branding is consistency, as this consistency is what keeps customers intrigued by the business and its products as a whole. When a company either hasn’t made a brand for itself, or its brand is inconsistent over time (too many changes of logos, changing slogans, etc.) it is often considered to be business suicide, as no company can survive and thrive without proper branding.

It should be noted that your brand is much more than your logo, it is everything that makes up your business. According to Seth Godin, world renown marketing guru, a brand means:

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.

In order to establish an effective brand, it must have certain traits; being memorable, meaningful, and trustworthy are just a few of the feature necessary to a great brand. When a company does not incorporate these traits into their branding, the branding will ultimately fail, and will take the company with it.

Take a look at the Goldfish Crackers branding as an example: why have these cheesy little snacks grown so wildly popular, when there are dozens of knockoffs available that are just as good? One key to this is found in its branding. The Goldfish Crackers slogan is very memorable, catchy, and overall very likeable. Who doesn’t like the idea of a “snack that smiles back?” The branding of this product is excellent, and overall establishes a great image for the product itself. By giving the Goldfish Crackers and fun and memorable image, the product has become very popular among children and adults alike, making it one of the most popular cheese cracker options on shelves today.

In contrast, some companies grew very successful and then went out of business based on poor branding. One key feature of branding is keeping up with competitors, as the ever expanding growth of technology and reachable markets is cause for new competition year in and year out. One business that failed due to poor branding was former bookstore giant Borders. While its competitors all released their own version of e-book not long after the Amazon Kindle (released in 2007), Borders waited three years before releasing their version. Borders could no longer market themselves in the same way competitors such as Barnes and Noble could, and this big mistake saw the end of their franchise.

The lesson to be learned from Borders is that all brands must stay up to date with new trends, and use these trends to market themselves and create a brand. Amazon further established their reputation as innovative leaders with the creation of the e-book, and they used that to further establish their brand. Conversely, Borders fell behind, and could no longer brand themselves in a way that would attract new customers. In addition, their branding was poor to begin with, with few advertisements and little that set them apart from their competitors. Their advertising was never memorable (unlike the Goldfish Crackers mentioned above), and was often inconsistent through its mediums.

Borders is just one example of how poor branding can destroy a company that has already been well established. Companies who establish effective branding techniques during their early years will be far more likely to compete with others as they grow, and being consistent with branding is the key to keeping a brand successful. If a company has a catchy slogan and eye-catching logo, changing it each time they show an ad or send an email destroys the idea of a brand entirely, and eliminates the company’s impact on its audience.

Overall, having a memorable and trustworthy brand is important to any company looking to find success in today’s world. Branding is not limited to big companies either, but we can all learn a lot from them. Any organization that has a message, service or product needs to have a brand.

With such an abundance of flourishing businesses, even the smallest branding mistakes can mean the difference between wild success and failure. With this in mind, it is growing ever more important that businesses establish an effective and consistent brand for themselves, as it is absolutely necessary to long-term success.

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