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Practice Management > Building Your Business

7 Branding Mistakes to Avoid

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In building up their businesses, some financial advisors ignore or underemphasize the importance of branding. As a result, they can make mistakes that erode their positions in the marketplace and adversely affect their bottom lines.

Here are seven common branding blunders:

  1. Failing to identify your core competencies. It’s hard to convince customers to patronize your business if they don’t know what you’re good at. Without any information about why you’re the best choice, you’re just another product on a shelf or business listing in the phone directory.
  2. Trying to be all things to all people. It’s tempting to try to fulfill the needs of every potential customer, especially when you’re just starting out and need the revenue. But attempting to appease everybody in the market will only stretch your resources thin, drive you crazy and ultimately disappoint your customers. Instead, focus on your niche market where your expertise lies.
  3. Changing (branding) horses in midstream. Many business owners succumb to the temptation to change their branding message to try to attract the customer base they want at any given time. While allowing your company to evolve is perfectly acceptable, frequent branding changes will create confusion among consumers and ultimately weaken your overall brand.
  4. Adopting a “me, too” approach. If you want to get into an industry that’s hot, great. But simply offering another choice that mirrors already established products or services probably won’t be enough to sustain your business over the long term. You have to establish a brand presence that’s unique and centered on your core competencies and business philosophy, because that’s what consumers respond to.
  5. Not engaging your customers. Branding is more than just drawing a logo or thinking of a clever tagline. It’s about building a relationship with your customers. People are more likely to become dedicated to your business if they can identify with it on a deeper level. To do this, you can use social media, loyalty programs, community events and other methods to help customers feel as if they are a part of something bigger.
  6. Using too much jargon. Stating that your business offers “value-added, comprehensive, turnkey solutions to all of your logistics needs by strategically partnering your legacy infrastructure with industry best practices” will leave potential customers befuddled. Buzzwords and catchphrases should be used in moderation (or not at all) in your branding statements and messages. In other words: Keep it simple.
  7. Breaking your promises. This can be the death knell of any business. If you brand yourself as an environmentally friendly company but don’t adopt any green practices—or worse—harm the environment, your customers will declare you corpus non grata. The public will tolerate many things but being lied to is not one of them.

Successful branding creates a strong bond between customers and companies. But a weak brand increases the chances that you will get lost in the crowd. So pay attention to your branding and make sure that it is accomplishing your goals.