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How to spot a weak brand (and how you can avoid being one!)

Branding is everything!

Without a brand, do you even have a business?

We might be biased in saying this, but we don’t think so. Branding is everything in business, in sales, in marketing and in building a memorable product or service that people know and love.


“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder.


How true (and how powerful) is that? A brand is there for you when you’re not and you could argue it’s more powerful that way. A brand helps people to form an opinion of you, creates a feeling that people have about you, and goes a long way to cementing your business or organisation in their mind.

A brand puts your mission, your beliefs, your values, your culture, your people and your products and services into the mind of your customers. We think that’s a big deal!

So without one (or with a poor one) do you have a solid business? We’re not sure you do.

The power of brand is well documented and if you meet us out and about and ask us why it’s so powerful, you’ll never shut us up! It is an important part of any product or service and many companies have been quoted to have said that their brand is the most important part of their business.

It’s been said that if Coca Cola lost all of their products, factories, and infrastructure that they’d still have a viable business based on the power of their brand. Banks would invest, companies would give them credit, advertisers and marketers would work with them, people would buy their product even without advertising, and they’d soon rise up from the ground.

That’s all on the power of their brand and that’s why they spend so much each year on building brand awareness and linking their brand to the events and occasions that suit their company values.

But what happens if you have a bad brand?

Here are six areas of branding to think about to give you a better chance of being talked about positively when you’re not in the room.


1. What makes you different?

Do you remember the good old fashioned text messages? 160 character limits were a tough way to communicate but it kept us succinct, right?

Well if you can’t explain to us why and how your brand is different (and better) than your competition in a text, then you need to give it more thought.

Most brands have a solid tagline or mission statement that perfectly explains why their brand is the one to choose and why you should care. Can you do that? If you can’t, you might want to work on it.


2. Your business success isn’t your brand

Your tax return, number of customers or turnover is not what your customers care about. No, what your brand needs to talk about is why you’re here, what it is you help people with, and how that makes them feel.

You’re on the stock market? Bully for you. You have a 23% increase in turnover last quarter? Great! Your investors’ share price increased? Super! But that’s not your brand – that’s your numbers.

Your success can be better measured with your brand awareness and trust in that brand. It’s the collateral and bank balance that means more to your business than your tax return. Remember that Coke branding example?


3. What’s your mission?

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek said it perfectly in his book ‘Start With Why’. A brand bolsters that WHY and helps people to forge allegiance with you… but you need to be quick!

Your mission statement needs to be short, sweet and memorable. A weak brand will have a huge supporting document to explain why they exist and why you should buy from them, Nike tell us to ‘Just Do It!’.

It doesn’t have to be paragraphs of text when you get it right.

“Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”

“It Gives You Wiiiings!”

“Just Do It!”

“Every Little Helps”

“Because You’re Worth It”

“The World’s Local Bank”

“Vorsprung durch Technik”

… can you name them all? Even if you don’t know them all, we’d guess that you know most of them and that’s the power of a strong tagline or mission statement.


4. Your logo doesn’t say much…

A logo is the core part of your brand and the master storyteller in the mix. Your brand should tell the story and your logo has an important role in that. What does your logo say? Do you know? Does your logo have hidden meaning? Is there a story behind it?

… or was it knocked up in 30 minutes on People Per Hour by someone you never heard from again? (urgh!)

Your logo should hold the key to your story so that when someone asks you about it you instantly tell the story of your brand (quickly) and they then have a vision, a feeling, and an emotional attachment to you and your brand.

Take Amazon for example:

The ‘A’ in the logo is joined to the ‘Z’ with a yellow arrow to show that they sell everything from A-Z! Clever!

Or look at FedEx:

There’s a hidden arrow that forms a subliminal symbol for speed and precision in between the ‘E’ and the ‘X’.

Simple, effective and full of story and meaning!


5. You’re you; not the brand

Then there’s the ‘I’ versus ‘Us’ or ‘We’ situation. It can be very difficult to get a brand recognised when all you talk about is the founder of the business. If all you’re about is the person who set up the business then you’re not a brand. Sorry.

A true brand, a well-known brand, is a brand in its own right and even if you know the founder, you’ll mostly know or feel for the brand in a different way.

Take Virgin as an example. We know of the founder, Richard Branson, but Virgin Media, Airlines, Records, and more is a strong brand on its own. It doesn’t need Branson to survive now; it’s a brand with a very vivid feeling and recognition in your mind.

To build a true brand, the founders need to get out of the way and let the brand do the talking, the advertising, and tell the story.

Virgin’s “Changing business for good” mission runs through the brand and leaves Branson free to write, live on an island, and share inspirational quotes… although he very much put his ethos and values in to the brand from the beginning.

Your products, organisation, or service needs to be more than the people at the top.


6. Design beyond expectations…

That’s what we do and we suggest you have the same for your brand and everything that goes out on all your channels.

Brand is powerful and it’s more than the services and products. Invest in brand, build on brand, and make sure that every stage is ‘on brand’.

It’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room, it’s why people buy from you, and it’s often the defining factor in your being remembered over your competition.

Need help? We’d love to chat…

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