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  • Writer's pictureHilary Young

3 Signs Your Brand Messaging Sucks

Just because it's a new year (hello, 2022!), doesn't mean your brand is kicking it off with confidence. Everyone wants to start the new year off on good footing, but it takes a lot of work to get there. When the clock resets on January 1st, it doesn't automatically mean that the foundational work that has been done to get your branding tightened up.

Even while most businesses overlook their brand messaging, they will, however, have sales goals and other metrics that they want to hit for the year already laid out come January 1st. But how do you expect to reach those goals if you keep doing what you've been doing? What many businesses don't realize is that branding is a crucial part of any growth strategy, and it needs to be tweaked--if not completely overhauled with a rebrand--from time to time.

(And if you're reading this in June, don't despair: it's always a good time to rebrand when you realize that something isn't working with your messaging.)

So, how do you know if it's time for that rebrand? Here are three tell-tale signs that your brand messaging sucks:

You're Creating Confusion Instead of Clarity

Even though you and your team are well-versed in what service or product your business is selling, potential customers have no idea what you do, and don’t implicitly get how your brand will benefit them. Industry jargon, inside jokes, or convoluted messaging all add to the confusion. When you have no perspective on how people outside of your organization (or your head if you're a very small business) will digest the way you communicate as a brand, you run the risk of totally alienating large swaths of potential customers.

When it comes to brand messaging, clarity is always the main goal. Your audience should immediately be able to determine the value of continuing to spend their time engaging with your content, and should have no trouble understanding what you do when they visit you website or social pages. Without this kind of clarity, sales will plateau and eventually dip, putting your brand on thin ice. To combat this, consider running a focus group. It doesn't have to be big, or expensive, or even official; it just has to collect feedback from people who aren't familiar with the inner workings of your business.

Your Marketing Tries to Hide A Bad Customer Experience

Fancy marketing doesn't always help people overlook the fact that you have bad third party reviews and it isn’t a solution for having a terrible customer experience after the point of sale. Long gone are the days of duplicitous marketing as the gold standard. Your branding encompasses the full 360-degree experience for customers and if something doesn’t add up, it’s not going to end well for you.

First thing's first: don't lie in your marketing. If you can't compete based on reputation or customer service, find something to boast about that's based in truth. Consumers can smell dishonesty from a mile away, and you're better off building a brand on a foundation of honesty and authenticity if you want to have a shot at longevity. I would also highly recommend that you take the necessary steps to correct any dysfunction that potential customers and customers are experiencing as part of their interactions with your brand. If you don't know where to start, consider bringing in a brand strategist (such as myself) to help you audit the situation and figure out the best ways to right the ship.

All of Your Content Marketing Is Really A Sales Pitch

I know that people love to quote Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross when he tells a room full of dejected real estate agents that they should "always be closing", but when it comes to branding and the sales funnel, you can't actually do that if you want to seal the deal. When you’re constantly trying to sell things to people without showing them that you can help them or add value to their lives, people will tune you out. In this digital age, everyone has become adept at ignoring what doesn't seem relevant to them.

And yes, that's partially because the digital landscape is an incredibly crowded - and noisy - space, but it’s also because when you're just trying to sell things to people you're missing out on creating a connection with them. In fact, a sell-sell-sell mentality is a sign that your brand has zero understanding of its audience. When you shift your focus to getting to know your audience, understanding their struggles, and helping them find solutions through your services and products, you start building meaningful connections with them that can yield greater results for your business. A customer that feels seen, heard, and understood is not only a customer that continues to come back for repeat business, but one that also becomes a brand ambassador for you.

So, your brand messaging sucks, what now?

If you read through this and realized that your brand messaging is flailing, don't panic. Start by auditing what you do have and picking out what's no longer serving you. Then, think about what you stand for and why people should choose your business over a competitor. The third step is really doing a deep dive into who your audience is and creating a psychographic profile that focuses on what they're struggling with, or what challenges they are facing in a way that is relevant to your business or service.

When you take the time to think deeply about your brand messaging, you'll set your brand up for success in the long term. And that doesn't suck, does it?


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