The Top 3 Mistakes Every New Brand Makes

The Top 3 Mistakes Every New Brand Makes
11
JUNE, 2018
Branding
Brand Strategy
Communication
Customers
Last week, I shared the story of how Shea Moisture, the very first haircare brand I used on my naturally curly hair, lost sight of their customers in a wide-net attempt to grow their brand.
Today, I want to share with you the top 3 mistakes most new brands make that lead them down a similar path of destruction. The only difference is that in the startup world, there’s not a cushion of cash to fund a comeback. In many instances, committing one of these mistakes causes you to no longer be in business.

It goes a little something like this ..

YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, SO YOU SOLVE IT.

I know so many entrepreneurs who go into business to solve their own problem at first.  Your children have eczema and suffer daily with dry skin so you create a handmade, natural moisturizer for them. It works and you decide to share it with your friends. They love it, which gives you affirmation that this one solution has the power to become an entire collection – one that you can sell. You package it up, brand it with your favorite colors, scent it with your favorite smells, name each moisturizer with your memories, and share with the world the story of how you did it all. Loads of other moms flock to your pop-up shop to learn more. Looking down proudly at your investment, you see the reflection of all of your hard work, late nights, and financial sacrifices. You successfully launched a business, but for some reason you and just a few of your friends are the only ones buying.

THEN YOU TRY TO SELL IT TO THE WORLD.

You decide to take that collection online and see if the web responds better. It took you awhile to figure out how to set up your digital shop, but you did it! With the help of some trusted friends and the (expensive) hiring of a website developer, your moisturizers can now be purchased from anywhere in the world. Your homepage has a picture of you and talks all about the process you underwent to create each product. It talks about your ingredient inspiration, your children, and your solution. The language on your site even sounds the way you talk. All of your brand messaging is a reflection of your family and how you communicate. As a final gesture, you ask your closest friends to help you select imagery to go on each page of the site. It’s finally done and once again, you’ve told everyone.  Within a week, you’re receiving traffic to your page (and not just family and friends!). You’re excited because business growth seems to finally be approaching. People come to visit your new shopping destination on opening week, and sadly within seconds, leave … without purchasing a thing.

You ask yourself, what am I missing?

YOU CRAFT A MASTER MARKETING STRATEGY. 

Final attempt. You tell your team it’s time to go big! This itty bitty collection of perfect moisturizers for dry skin is now for everybody. From now on, you decide to stop specifying who your moisturizers can help. Moving forward, these handmade mixtures can cure anything. More importantly, they can be used by anyone. Your web developer gets the order to remove all skin-specific language on the site. You take down the story of why you began and the healing benefits of your dry-skin-saving ingredients. The marketing strategy from here on out is one of inclusion, because maybe in the beginning, you were being too “limiting.” The wide net is cast and you anxiously await the sea of fish to come in to buy a collection that’s now for everyone.

BUT NO ONE EVER COMES. NO ONE EVER BUYS. YOU CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHY.

Your bootstrapped brand is now stagnant. You’re stuck. Out of cash and out of a single idea as to why such an amazing product line won’t sell.

“The only way to get people to come to your website, stay there and shop around is to captivate them with messaging that resonates with who they are, not who you are.”

Now, maybe you’re not in the business of handmade moisturizers, but I bet this story has a few parallels to your own brand building journey.  I’m almost positive that if you’re reading this message, you’ve made one of these core mistakes in the past or are currently making one right now as I type:

Mistake #1: Building & Branding For You & You Alone

This is where the founder of this cute little handmade collection went wrong. She created everything for her brand – from the names of her products to the scents in each mixture – around her own preferences. She never once considered how the market would respond and what the people actually buying these products would want.

Mistake #2:  Not Knowing Who You’re Talking To

If your brand sounds the exact same way that you talk, we have a problem. Sure, you may be part of the target market, but you are not a total representation of it. The only way to get people to come to your website, stay there and shop around is to captivate them with messaging that resonates with who they are, not who you are.  You have to know who your brand is talking to.

Mistake #3: Being All Things to All People

No brand can be all things to all people. It’s simply impossible. This is where Shea Moisture got caught up and where most brands make their final attempt to stay in business – opening up the marketing floodgates. There’s a reason why business plans require that you write down the problem you solve and who exactly you solve it for. Too many young brands suffer from the fear of limiting themselves, so they attempt to position their brands to serve everyone. This just can’t be done. Being something to your people doesn’t mean others won’t buy; it just means that the people you created your brand to serve will know that you are FOR them. And in return, they will buy from you.

.      .     .

All of these mistakes boil down to the fundamental first step so many new brands skip when trying to build their businesses – getting to know their customer. 

Your customer is who shapes your branding, your communication, and your entire marketing strategy. Are you building your business around them?

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Learn how you can get to know your customer and avoid these top brand building mistakes HERE!

Written by: Amber Williams
Master Brand Storyteller & Founder of PunkyFlair

Don’t Be Shamed Like Shea Moisture

Don’t Be Shamed Like Shea Moisture
11
JUNE, 2018
Branding
Communication
Customers
Press
Right around 7:45 PM Tuesday night, I was in desperate need of a deep hair conditioner. It was one of those beauty emergencies that I didn’t believe could wait until the next day. I headed to Target.
Once there, I turned down the aisle where the natural hair products were. What used to be a three-foot section dominated by just five brands for curly girls has grown (by popular demand of course) into an entire six shelf, double-sided aisle full of products, brand promises, and OPTIONS, OPTIONS, OPTIONS!

I can vividly recall the days when my choices for natural hair products were limited to a handful of brands that spoke my language and understood what I needed and truly wanted – which was to unabashedly rock my natural born coils. .

The first brand to indoctrinate me into this natural hair, afro, unapologetic lifestyle was Shea Moisture.

On Tuesday, as I perused through this new and “inclusive” Target aisle, I noticed a sea of other natural hair brands that made the same claims as Shea Moisture’s products. I was reminded of the ebbs and flows of business and just how quickly competition enters in. 

As a brand, being the first to offer something or even being amongst a limited few options is a huge advantage. You can dominate the conversation about your solutions and capture a large chunk of market share early on. The best part? You have the opportunity to really get to know your customer and build your business around their needs. 

But what happens when you’re not the only player anymore? What happens when everyone mimics you, or worse, outdoes you, your offering, and the way they connect with your customers? What happens when the section you used to dominate becomes an aisle that you’re lucky to even have a spot on? 

For strong brands that know their customers, they continue the connection despite the number of competitors vying for their customers’ dollars. They spend time building on the trust they already have and finding new ways to meet their people where they are.

Brands not as strong (or strategic) who don’t know their customers head in the opposite direction. In an attempt to capture the popularity of a growing market, they cast a wide net over ALL customers, trying to appeal to EVERYONE, in turn isolating the very ones that they created their products or services for.

This is exactly what Shea Moisture did last year – they lost sight of who their customers were. Or maybe, they never even know them. 

The 2017 “Hair Hate” ad campaign told a story that was not the Shea Moisture one at all. It showcased imagery of everyone but the natural Black girls that supported, advocated for, influenced, and grew their business. It invited a web of backlash that resulted in comments from customers like:

“Any brand that doesn’t know me is a brand I certainly don’t need to get to know.”

In a public apology from the brand, they attempted to acknowledge the disrespect their customers felt. And while they ended with a humble admission, “we should know better”, the sting remains even a year later.

While checking out at Target on Tuesday with the deep conditioner I purchased from the Camille Rose brand, it dawned on me that I didn’t even notice the bright coral-colored Shea Moisture brand in that huge aisle. Maybe it was there. Maybe it wasn’t.

Any brand that doesn’t know me is a brand I certainly don’t need to get to know. And after awhile, it’s one I don’t even notice.

Believe me, I’m not alone. 

.      .     .

Take the time out to get to know your customers and promise yourself that you’ll never deviate from the very people you created your brand to serve. 

DON’T BE SHAMED LIKE SHEA MOISTURE.

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Learn how you can get to know your customer and avoid these top brand building mistakes HERE!

Written by: Amber Williams

Master Brand Storyteller & Creator of Punkyflair