Many people can sense that something is wrong with their brand, but few can articulate what the source of it is. Marc Gutman addresses clarity, strategy, and relevancy, and shares the most prevailing reasons for brand problems today.
Keith Roberts 0:04
Branding. So my branding guru friend, how does somebody know, if they have a branding problem? What are the signs that show up in their business that let them know this is an issue that needs to be addressed?
Marc Gutman 0:17
Yeah, I mean, you know, I think a lot of people sense it, they have this sense that something’s wrong with their brand, but they can’t articulate it, have been talking to a lot of clients lately that, you know, they’re the number one reason is like, they’re not being seen by their target customer, the way they want to be seen like I can think of someone I just spoke to the other day, who started as that kind of real outdoorsy adventure, kind of hardcore company, but they’re their customers are more of the first-timers from Atlanta.
And so they’re not showing up as this approachable, friendly brand, they’re getting that feedback from their target customer. And it’s resulting in a loss of sales, people are opting to not select them as a brand and as a partner because they’re not being accurately represented. That’s number one. I just got an email the other day from a client who we work with in branding, they said, “Marc, we’re getting all this feedback that our message is confusing.” And I went and I flipped messaging they did and they had deviated from what we worked on. And they have, they have they fell into the common trap, which is, you know, they wanted to play in kind of two ponds, they wanted to serve this community and this community. And when you start to do that, you start to get confusing messaging, you get that feedback from the customer, “Hey, I don’t know if you’re an A brand, or a B brand, or is this for me?” That’s another way.
You may be feeling like your creative is really disjointed. Hey, we send out we’re doing Facebook ads, or we’re doing social media, and it’s just not lining up. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t feel like you, you could be getting really frustrated. That’s a way that you might know that and I’ve worked with clients that that’s the exact problem they’ve had, it’s like, we’re like, we just cannot get back the right creative. Well, it’s because you don’t have a clear brand strategy, you haven’t articulated who you are as a brand and so everyone’s just guessing.
You may be just like fighting a price or a feature race to the bottom, and it’s probably wearing you out and you’re getting it you know, price competitive, you keep lowering your rates. And here’s this little message for everyone out there, only one competitor in your market in your industry can be the cheapest. Only one.
And for everyone else, there’s branding. And there’s niching. And there’s knowing who your customer is and finding that specific customer that loves what you do. You know, the other one is you might have a marketing team and people are coming in maybe you’ve had turnover and you’re hearing like, I don’t know what we sound like, I don’t know how to know you have people who are sitting down and they’re having a little bit paralysis as they try to create content. And because they don’t know the voice, then who are we what do we sound like? Are we fun? Are we happy? You know, what is this voice and tone of the brand? Probably have a branding problem.
You also, my favorite is if you spend way too much time telling people what you do or what your business’s business does, you’ve got a branding problem. So if you can’t easily explain it, you know, there’s an old adage, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not funny. You’ve already lost, like you have to really spend a lot of time explaining what you do. You’ve got a branding problem.
Really quickly, I knew I had a branding problem several years ago, when after Thanksgiving, I was sitting next to my mother in law. And then the next time I ran into her and all her friends, they kept asking me how my blogging was going and how my blogging business was going. Well, I’m clearly not a blogger, that’s not my business, I must have done a horrible job. What’s it done a horrible job explaining what I did for a living. And so I actually came up with a framework called the Thanksgiving dinner sentence, which is a way to put your brand into an elevator pitch that makes sense that even your mother-in-law can understand it. So that might be a reason that you know that you have a branding problem.
The real, real easy one, your sales might be down, you might be losing traction, your competition, you might not be standing out people are picking your competition over you. That’s a problem. That’s a branding problem. That’s something that you know, that that we can fix with branding or at least address. You and your team might know you’re awesome. Like, you know, you look around, you’re like we’re awesome. But you’re not getting that same response from your prospects and clients. And so you kind of know something’s off, you’re like, Look, we’re great, we’re doing great work, but we’re not getting that same response back from our clients. You may not be sure who your customers are or who to market to. That’s a huge one. Hey, like we’re not sure if this is our customer or this is our customer. That’s actually a branding problem and something that needs to be addressed.
And lastly, you may not be communicating in a cohesive way across all your channels. Your website, your customer touchpoints your customer service use social media. What I mean by that is, say you show up on your website as this really avant-garde, modern brand, you show up on Facebook and Instagram is a slovenly beer-drinking brand, and you show up on LinkedIn as a super professional brand. Not only are you not consistent, you’re coming off as like completely manic and psycho, you know, like, you’re like you’re multi multiple personalities all over the place.
Now, before you say anything, YouTube and people watching this, yes, you have different voices, you can show up a little bit different on different channels for the medium. And we can talk about that at some point. But there’s always a common thread, there’s always that common, you know, it’s like, it’s like when I show up different places, right? Like I show up to a client a little bit differently than I show Well, not always, but theoretically a little bit different when I show up to happy hour, or when I show up to my friends on the weekend, but it’s still Marc Gutman. You know, like it’s still Marc Gutman.
Keith Roberts 6:02
Marc Gutman 6:03
It’s authentic. My core values are still there. You still know it’s me. There’s not that much of a departure of from Marc Gutman. Think of that of your brand, like how would your brand’s you know, remain true to itself, but show up on Instagram show up on LinkedIn show up on your website? And so those are all things that we can look at when we’re trying to assess if you have a branding problem. And if anything like that, you know is is resonating with you, then you may have a branding problem.
Keith Roberts 6:33
All right, I have one tough question for you. And I was super insightful. Thank you, my friend. And I just thought of an old product.
When I first started agency 20 years ago, I came to us for an ecommerce website, it was diaper cakes. How do you tell somebody? If you have a branding problem? Are you have a product for like your product sucks? Right? Is there? How do you have that conversation or is that not the brand experts place?
Marc Gutman 6:57
Well, I think it is because if you don’t have that conversation, you’re not going to be successful as a brand or that you can’t brand a bad product, right? Like I mean, that’s I mean you can try. But for me the essence of branding is that I believe so much that branding is deep-rooted in your strategy, that that should affect the product. And so if you’re not clear on the problem you’re solving and for who, then you probably you could have a product problem. And so I would be going back to that, that product. And sometimes it’s a really hard conversation and saying, like look like, “Are we actually solving a problem that our target customer has?” And I think that’s a lot of times where the product, you know, falls off the mark because the answer is no, you know, and we’ve rushed forward or things have changed.
You know, the world and this is just something else I’m totally fascinated with is relevancy. And how do we as we grow as brands, and as the world is growing at different rates? How do we stay aligned? Because like, I guess in my mind, this would be the alignment, right like that. You’d be like this, but sometimes we’re growing faster or slower. Sometimes the world around us is and like how do we maintain that relevancy? And so sometimes your product right becomes irrelevant because the world passes by, sometimes you’re too ahead of the world because you’re, you’re a genius, but you’re too early to market and that’s a thing.