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Brand Bummer, by Karen Post The Branding Diva®
CNN’s Anderson Cooper created the Ridiculist, where he features questionable news items, actions and interesting people with his signature full on snarky smile. FOX has Bill O’Reilly and his Pinheads, a noble collection of his favorite idiotic personalities doing really stupid things. This week I’m rolling out Brand Bummers, my official list of brands, people and organizations doing things that I scratch my head and go WHY?

If you make it on the Brand Bummer list, don’t take it personal, take some action and ask yourself, is the Branding Diva® right? Is this a pretty lame act, is it helping build your brand’s image or is it diluting all of the other good branding efforts and investments?

Personal brand bummer! Professional image, NOT!
For years I’ve been a support of Tampa Bay WaVE. It’s a start-up organization that provides education, networking and resources to local startups in the Tampa Bay area. This week I received an email announcing a Shark Tank Simulation event. The event sounded great, but what I noticed might not be the most strategic brand building moves for one of the judges. I’m not sure if the organization posted it or Mr. Simpson provided it, but either way this image would not be the #1 choice on my list for reflecting the credibility of the CEO, Troy Simpson or the image of a successful technology company like ProntoNOW.

Bad personal branding

Brands are built from a collection of experiences and visuals. If you’ve got an opportunity for brand exposure, put your best picture forward that reflects your brand.

Retail brand bummer! I don’t want to carry this brand home.
I’ve shopped at Dillard’s for years and while they aren’t Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus, they are a fashion brand. Fashion is what society leans on to express who we are, fashion reflects our values and sometimes even badges us with a symbol of social status. Dillard’s carries many great fashion brands from Chanel and Ralph Lauren to Calvin Klein. In fact, their tagline is: The Style of Your life, which in the branding world should confirm the essence of the store.

So for the life of me I can’t figure out why for years Dillard’s sends us home with our fashionable purchase in the ugliest shopping bag known to man. Did they buy a 20-year supply and just can’t give them out fast enough? Hey Dillard’s bag buyer, I’m not saying you have to spend tons of money on an amazing bag like Tory Burch’s fabulous bag. I am saying this touch point is just a huge disconnect to who I believe you want to be in the minds of your customers: a style resource, who gets what’s going on in the world of looking good.
Ugly packaging dilutes brand

Brands are built from a collection of experiences. Your packaging should reflect your brand essence.

Banking brand bummer! Please cut down the phone trees.
This next brand bummer is not isolated to this brand category; in fact many big company brands commit this brand sin everyday. I call it phone tree hell, when calling this brand is dreaded more than getting a root canal and calling your experience brutally miserable would be an understatement. My recent culprit is Bank of America. I get a mailer from them letting me know a loan I have will be maturing soon. They provide a 1-800 phone number to call for questions. I call the phone number only to be directed to the wrong department three times, having to explain my story to three different people. The forth time I call I’m assured they will connect me to someone who can help me, I’m transferred again, only to this time get disconnected.

I know you’ve been here. Poorly planned phone trees that are never tested by brand leadership generally suck. If executive leadership experienced what customers do, I believe we’d have more customer-friendly phone systems instead of hopefully cost efficient ones. I suppose I could change banks, but the thought of what I envision would be even worse, not just a root canal, but one without Novocain.

Brand brand experience

Brands are built from a collection of experiences. The one your customers have on the phone should be as delightful as your interacting with your in-person support team and your product or service.

Brand on!