Companies make branding mistakes all the time. It happens to even the best of brands because no brand is perfect. But I have to say some companies manage some really big mistakes.
Let’s take JC Penney for instance. Personally I’ve never been a big JC Penney shopper but I have been following their downward spiral pretty closely. JC Penney of course is an old brand that really lost its luster many years ago. But it has had a real core of shoppers that it could always count on to keep coming back again. The thing is most of those loyal shoppers were coming back for one thing, a sale! They knew JC Penney would always have a sale. So knowing that its most loyal shoppers were coming in for the sales what did JC Penney do? It took away the sales! The now former CEO Ron Johnson thought that they could be a “low priced” leader like WalMart. Sales of course plummeted, Ron Johnson was fired and now JC Penney is running ads asking former customers to please come back.
You may be wondering what the JC Penney example has to do with sabotaging a brand. It’s simple, their sales have become a part of their brand. They then switched from offering sales to offering everyday deals and their core audience didn’t go for it. It’s the ultimate brand sabotage and of the four ways I list to sabotage a brand they hit two of them. Talk about self destructive.
What are the 4 ways you can sabotage your brand?
1. Don’t build your brand on price – Someone will always be the low priced leader, don’t let it be you. If you want to build a better brand then do it with a better product. Low price means low profits which means you need volume to make it up. For JC Penney this was one of their mistakes. They were already offering sales but then they decided to offer everyday low prices instead. Customers got confused and JC Penney got crushed. I’ve got two words, bad move.
2. Don’t change your promise – When Ron Johnson took over JC Penney he came in and decided to shake up the brand. So what did he do. He took away the sales. Not just some of them either. He took them all away. People shop at JC Penney looking for a better product than they might find at other stores. Finding that product on sale is icing on the cake. And people expect the sales. They anticipate the next one, they plan they’re whole shopping experience around the next sale. The promise is there will be another sale! I’ll tell you a secret. I shop for all of my work clothes at Mens Wearhouse. I actually love shopping there. I buy slacks, shirts, shoes and all my accessories there. But I never pay full price. Men’s Wearhouse always has a buy one get one free sale coming up. They probably happen once a month. In fact while I was writing this blog post I saw an ad for a sale this weekend. So I wait for the sale and then go shopping. And if they ever stop doing those sales I’ll probably find somewhere else to shop. I love their products but I love their sales even more.
3. Don’t be a copycat – Even if your competition is highly successful it can be a bad idea to be a copycat. You and your brand need to develop a unique identity. Develop a foundation of what your business will be known for. If you do that you can become a leader in your market rather than a follower.
4. Remember branding and communications are not the same thing – If your brand message is all about great service you had better offer great service. If it’s about speed you better be fast. When you create a brand you craft and send a message to consumers. Communicating with customers is not about branding but it can support a brand if handled correctly.
Branding a business is something many business owners often overlook but it’s one of the most important aspects of running a business. JC Penney is an extreme example of how badly a brand can be sabotaged. Don;t let it happen to you.If you are interested in branding your business and need help please call our office at 615-890-3600 or email us. All of our consultations are free and we always love meeting new people.