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How To Ruin Your Brand (Basically, This Is What You Don't Want To Do With Your Business) A cohesively, well-marketed mediocre product is more profitable than an obscure brilliant one- that's just the way it is.

By Sarah Trad Edited by Aby Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


There's a sort of confidence found only in brands that have confidence. What I mean by this redundant introductory sentence is what this article is about: how to confidently present your company as a brand to the world, while avoiding the mistakes that keep on being repeated for lack of knowledge by business owners.

If you look at the online presence of Apple, the iPhone maker ruling half the globe's pockets (the cooler half, some might argue), you'll notice a peculiar approach to marketing. On X, the app formerly known as Twitter, the company has a verified account with zero posts; the same on Facebook with zero posts; on Instagram, a community of cultured photographers deemed cool, edgy, and unorthodox take over the feed with a mandatory #ShotoniPhone in the caption; on YouTube, the most fun happens with plenty of creative campaigns.

The confidence of Apple in neglecting the social media platforms it can't produce on-brand content for is what makes it so cohesively loved by its audience, and why, year after year, this audience grows. The iPhone doesn't have the best camera, but it sure as heck takes immense pride in it, a pride that seeps into its audience's subconsciousness so that they become almost ruthless supporters who can't be convinced to quit the "community."

I can understand if you're over examples of global companies, but they're global for many reasons, and the way they handle their brands is a lesson for us all, irrespective of the size of our business. A cohesively, well-marketed mediocre product is more profitable than an obscure brilliant one- that's just the way it is. So, how do you ruin your brand? Here's a primer.

1. Misunderstanding (And Underestimating) Branding Branding is the overall impression and feel a business attempts to convey to people; I say "attempts" here because, eventually, people will form their own image of that business based on their personal perspectives and values. Some will find a business cringe, while others will adore everything it does (Apple Inc. is a great example, just ask Android users what they think of the i-everything maker.)

For the sake of all that is impactful, do your best to understand branding and its powers, instead of dismissing it as an expensive exercise. A good business supplies and earns; a great business impacts and empowers. Take the time to sit with a professional, or do your own research regarding what branding is, what it encompasses, how it's applied, and to what aspects of your business, and what differentiates it from marketing and advertising.

Related: From Twitter To X: An Inverse Masterclass In Branding

2. Forgoing Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) When what you're offering isn't groundbreaking, advocate for it through the way you're offering it, or the reason behind it. Few are the companies in this time and age that can assertively say they're the first in X or Y, but many smart companies are unfazed while listing what makes their approach to their service/product truly matchless among their competitors. A few examples: obsessive customer-centricity, 100% recycled packaging, or ethically sourced products. A regular plastic toothbrush doesn't appeal to those who buy at x3 the price a wooden one.

3. Abandoning Business Values If people have values that guide their way through this tricky life, so should companies that have a bigger impact than mere individuals. Your business claims it backs sustainable solutions? Don't send your C-suite in a private jet for meetings, and stay away from piles of non-recyclables in your office kitchen. Set three or five core values for your business (say, employee work-life balance, cost-consciousness, curiosity, accountability, etc.), and let them guide all your decisions.

4. Overlooking Brand Guidelines Did you pay a creative professional thousands of dollars for a brand deck and guidelines only to store them safely in a Google Drive folder? No. Just like core values are the compass to decision-making, brand guidelines are the compass to your online/offline communications and marketing. Use the color palette, the design elements, the variations of the logo, and everything else that's been handed to you by those who know better- here's hoping you've selected the right branding agency to work with!

Also, and this comes from the broken heart of a journalist and creative writer who aches at the sight of meh copywriting, do not allow any text to go out under your business' name if it isn't at the very least error-free. If it can be humanly creative without the use of ChatGPT, that's 10 points to Gryffindor! Focus on good design and minimal text if you can't get your hands on an imaginative writer- artificial intelligence-powered tools are not your best friend/free labor like you think they are, and the general public is smart enough to differentiate between robotic text and that of humans.

5. Targeting The Wrong Audience (And Ignoring The Core Clientele's Experience) You're not meant to please and serve everyone, especially once you set your core values and USPs. These two alone will weed out the people who don't align with your company. Now that you have a right fit of an audience, keep your eyes peeled regarding their experience, while in contact with your business. Minimize any discrepancies that can occur between what the company says it offers, and what it actually offers, and how it offers it. Is the purchasing process smooth, clear, efficient? Is customer service quick, helpful, insightful? Is your website bug-free, fast, neat? Is your service/product impeccable, as described, refundable?

Mash all of the aforementioned lessons together, and you'll be sure to get a brand with the potential to move mountains, and convert the unconverted. All of these efforts are sealed when you train your employees on seeing the company they work at (not "for", "at") the way its founder does. The people running your company should have its best interest at heart as often as possible, and they should understand its tone of voice, mission, and the overall image it conveys to the outside world. Experts are all around you, either via free content online, or paid services in person- just don't let the right path overwhelm you. All the luck to you!.

Related: Five Things Online Brands Can Do Right Now To Improve Customer Service

Sarah Trad

Co-Founder, Closed Captions Communications

Sarah Trad is a journalist and the former Editor-in-Chief of tech and business newsletter, Step Feed. She’s curious about the littlest things in life and has nurtured an intimate relationship with words, which brought her to co-found newly launched branding studio, Closed Captions Communications, with her brother, Serge


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