What are the most common branding mistakes?

|| July 23, 2014

A brand is a promise, and that promise has to be fulfilled consistently to be credible and has to be distinctive in order to be interesting.


Every contact that a customer has with your brand becomes part of their overall picture of what you're like. If every piece of paper, every conversation and every experience with your product or service tells the same story — and it's the same thing you promised them — then your brand will have a lot of credibility. If their encounters with you are inconsistent — posh stationery but badly maintained premises, smooth staff but bad packaging, good product but badly spelled instructions — they will tend to count all of their good experiences with you as lucky, rather than their bad experiences as unlucky. Your brand is only as good as its worst moments.


In a competitive market, it is tempting for sales staff to make promises which sound better than the promises the competition make. In order to gain business, some companies bend over backwards to fulfil those promises. However, unless the business intends always to fulfil those promises in that way, the brand will eventually suffer for it. Brand confidence comes from a customer receiving a consistent product or service experience, and the people they tell also receiving the same experience. 

Some people argue that a brand should 'under-promise but over-deliver'. Although this sounds honest and nice, any deviation from the promise will tend to diminish credibility. If you promise to deliver six boxes, the client will not be happy if you deliver seven. If you promise to deliver on Thursday, a client may not be in a position to accept or check your delivery if it arrives a day earlier.


Most businesses like to make the most general possible claims about their goods or services, as this would seem to appeal to a wider market with the possibility of greater sales. However, broadening the claims make them more diffuse. Apple famously boasts that its entire product range will fit onto a single table. Brand extension means brand dilution. The brand promise will be stronger for making it more distinct and trading in a single market category where the brand can be number one or number two.