You May Be Killing Your Brand (and not even know it)

April 19, 2016 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


It’s been said that the most important ingredients in building a lasting and successful brand are authenticity and continuity. You must tell the same story day in and day out, and it must be a story built on truth.

If that is the foundation of every message you convey, you will build a strong brand. And, if you convey your message in a way that creates an emotional reaction, that strong brand will sell lots of products and services and/or change behavior and/or raise awareness. It seems so simple.

Weakening the Brand with Unneccessary Changes
Maybe it comes down to boredom. Marketers get tired of telling the same story the same way. They grow weary of the same words, same colors, same pictures, same typography. They seek out new brand strategy to “spruce up” their brand or “try something different” in an effort to elicit renewed interest.

Sadly, they’re actually reducing the brand’s value and slowly destroying it. It’s kind of like natural selection, the perennial scientific concept at the root of why and how plants and animals change their appearance over time. Only here, instead of a stronger claw, quicker response to danger, or more camouflaged coat, these changes make the organism NOT well suited to survive into the future. 

Misplaced Familiarity
They live the brand, they soak in the elements of their brand’s personality day in and day out, and this has conditioned them into a sense of familiarity that they project onto their audience. They believe that because the DNA of the brand is so clear and accessible to them, it must be clear and accessible to everyone. They make the mistake of thinking their audience is just as engaged as they are. 

A Tough Crowd
The average consumer is not only indifferent to the biddings of marketer’s messages, they are actually opposed to them. They don’t really like advertising. They shred unopened junk mail. Block popups. Skip past commercials. Subscribe to ad-free radio. They don’t obsess over the quirks of the latest spot around the water cooler like agency people do. They simply don’t possess the vested interest some marketers blindly ascribe to them.

Staying the Course
It’s that passive opposition that makes brand continuity so important. In order to penetrate this dense filter consumers have constructed around themselves, brands must maintain a highly consistent message and tone. Each brand mutation, no matter how harmless and inconsequential it appears to be, chips away at the fidelity of the position and gives disengaged consumers an excuse to remain disengaged—whether consciously or not. 

Validating a Change
Repeating the same ineffective story is just as detrimental. And brand consistency doesn’t mean that, as attitudes and sensibilities change, your brand story can’t adapt. But it needs to adapt for a reason other than “it’s time for a change.”

As long as your brand story is true, and as long as you continue to tell it with continuity to a group of people who care about it, you will break through the filter and reach the happy place in their hearts where you will be trusted—and if you’re really lucky—perhaps even championed.

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Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.