Forefront Communications

The Silent Business Killer: Your Weak Brand

Eric Soderberg

Eric Soderberg,

Does this sound familiar? Over the past few quarters, you’ve spent a great deal of money on salespeople, product research and development and marketing. And while you believe you have the most competitive offering, you are missing revenue targets, inbound leads are drying up and sales cycles are becoming more drawn out. Your company is being passed over for awards and inclusion in industry reports, and clients you thought were loyal are departing to work with your competitors. You’re seeing high employee turnover, and you’re struggling to convince prospective employees to accept your job offers.

If this sounds familiar, you might be feeling the effects of a “business killer” that is often silent, but ultimately deadly: a weak brand. That’s right – a weak brand is very often a major contributor to all the business challenges you’ve been struggling to overcome.

Yes, Your Weak Brand Could Be Hurting Your Business

Think of a business with a weak brand like a house made of subpar materials. When the house is brand new, everything is fine, but over time the floors start to slant, the roof begins to leak and the walls start to crack.  Similarly, when you launch a new business, there’s always that initial buzz about your new product or service and you get an abundance of inbound requests. But over time, if your brand is weak, the inbounds slowly dry up, funding becomes harder to secure and the challenge of hiring and retention increases.

What Makes Your Brand Weak?

There are many things that can make your brand weak, and poor messaging and positioning is one of the most common. If your company has not taken the time to formalize its key value proposition and brand “story,” you are off to a bad start. Furthermore, as you think about the story you want to tell, a long list of product features and milquetoast benefits is not going to cut it. You need to have a story that grabs attention, differentiates and ideally creates a lasting impression.  Failure to do so means prospects will forget about your company shortly after they learn of it.

Another very common contributor to a weak brand is message inconsistency. If you’ve invested heavily to develop a very compelling and memorable brand story and the only place that story is being told is on your website, you’ve just wasted a lot of money. Why? Because if your website tells one story, your LinkedIn profile and press releases tell another, and your salespeople are crafting their own unique stories for every prospect meeting, you are doomed. To be successful, you need to establish credibility and trust with your key audiences. That is impossible to achieve when these audiences each get a different story about who your company is, what it offers and why it’s better based on who they talk to and what they read.  

Lastly, a weak brand can also stem from a company’s visual look and feel being misaligned with its key messages and target audiences. If your main key message is about exceptional client service, then yes, you should probably use pictures of people on your website and in sales material. If your main key message is about your super high-performance technology, then photos of city skylines and tall buildings likely aren’t going to drive that message home.

And if you are trying to decide whether to have a friend of the family design your logo and website for “really cheap” or pay up to have an experienced design team handle it, you should find a way to get the quality work done. The quality of your brand look and feel is important. Think of the people your business is selling to. If you are selling B2B fintech, chances are they are successful CEOs and CTOs who in their personal lives purchase luxury items from companies with great, high-end and very consistent brands. You should be trying to match that brand experience as best you can.

So, You Think Your Brand Is Good Enough?

By now, you might be thinking, “I haven’t put much effort into my brand thus far, and my business seems to be hitting all benchmarks. Why should I invest in my brand?” You should care because the status quo may be fine for now, but eventual and inevitable business shifts – expansion, new competitors and challenging business conditions – will put your foundation to the test. A set of unified messages with a visual brand to match could be the difference between maintaining a strong presence in the face of change and crumbling under pressure.

How a Strong Brand Can Transform Your Business

The benefits of maintaining strong brand consistency cannot be overstated. It’s essential that the way you present your company to the world is the same across all marketing channels, unifying the messages and images at every touchpoint. This consistency results in increased recognition, builds trust and credibility and helps you stand out from the competition.

Think of the companies you value most – perhaps they include Apple, Starbucks, Ralph Lauren or Patagonia. In the fintech space, how about Robinhood, Klarna, Venmo or Stripe? The common denominator among all these renowned companies is strong, consistent branding. They employ unified visual motifs in everything they do, from the products they sell to their marketing channels, and back them up with messages that align in terms of both content and tone. These strong foundations have made these brands household names, instantly recognizable in any advertisement from print to TV to billboards.

Test Your Brand’s Strength

Here are 5 simple questions you can ask yourself to assess the strength of your company’s current brand:

1. When I ask people across the company to describe our business and our key differentiators, does everyone say the same thing?

2. Do all my sales materials reinforce my company’s key value proposition, and do they all look the same?

3. Do my social media posts have the same look and feel as my website?

4. Have we required all employees to use the same branded email signature?

5. Does the “About Us” language at the end of my press releases read the same as the “About” language on my LinkedIn profile?

If you are not confident in responding “yes” to all of the above, it may be time to reassess your brand strategy. Invest the proper time and resources in your company’s brand, and you will be shocked at how many of your business problems seem to solve themselves. Of course, this will not have been some magical feat – your strong brand will be making the difference.  

Is your brand killing your business? Book 15 minutes with Forefront Managing Partner Eric Soderberg HERE to find out.