Tell-tale signs your brand isn’t working: #2 Headscratcher
01 June 2017
Have you ever been asked, ‘What do you do?’ and started to explain your brilliant business only to be greeted with stares so blank they make the walkers from the Walking Dead look with it? Perhaps you’ve wandered into the first phase of the zombie apocalypse (in which case, tool up), but it’s more likely you’ve come up against a typical response you’ll get when your brand communication is as clear as mud.
At Robot Mascot, we’ve got a name for this affliction – the headscratcher. It’s when the ‘what you’re saying’ part of your brand messaging needs some TLC. When what you do sounds so obscure, bland or complicated that people immediately shut off when you talk.
What could be worse than being every shade of awesome at what you do but not getting that across properly? Not even the finale of Dexter is that depressingly bad.
There could be many things muddying your message. Maybe it started on day one when you found it hard to explain what wonders you could deliver. It may be that your business went all Netflix, but your branding is still chilling with Betamax. Perhaps you started off doing one thing but now offer five other things – in which case you probably need to refocus your brand communication and tie all these things up into a neat and tidy ethos.
It’s easy to beat yourself up about branding communication fails, but the truth is that even the bigger companies can struggle. I saw this first hand when an ad agency I used to work for merged with a digital agency and a data agency. Before you could say, ‘how many agencies?’ there was a spanking new logo, website and reception area in place. But they hadn’t given the right attention to communicating the drastic difference in the new company’s offer to new and existing clients. This lead to a pretty grim encounter with Barclays, who left an initial meeting scratching their heads so intensely that the company had to face the fact they might have lost this great deal.
Luckily, Barclays were willing to meet again despite the ‘headscratcher’ incident and by the time they did, myself and a team of creatives had transformed this confusion into a strong, clear brand communication. This time, Barclays left with clarity through the website, business cards, a video, brochure and giveaway pack to explain why the agency were the one they should be doing business with.
Obviously, not everyone has access to a crack team of branding ninjas to steal in and turn it all around. But there is help out there and, on a practical level, you can help yourself. A basic way to test your brand message is to talk to someone you’ve never met before and tell them what your business does, then ask them to repeat back – in their own words – what you do. The result should tell you what you need to know. So if you see a digit poking at a cranium, you know who to call.