What’s the #1 Reason Good Brands Fail?

Each entrepreneur with a fledgling new venture wants to know how to come out of nowhere; wants in on the secret about the one sure fire way to create a successful brand with lasting brand loyalty. So what is it that can make a brand fail and how can one avoid the pitfalls to ensure that this does not happen?

The one mistake that dooms good brands to failure.

Good products that work perfectly can still fail if the branding exercise is flawed. To make sure that the product does not fail and is able to achieve the success it is capable of, it is important to think less about the product or the brand and more about the ideal individuals that the product is targeted towards. Branding isn’t a one way conversation but a dialogue; a discussion — the best conversationalists are the ones that listen. It is important to connect and interact with the ideal individuals and to present them with a real possibility of a greater future.

A classic example is that of Cosmopolitan Yogurt that lasted all of 18 months in the market because people wanted to read a Cosmo, not eat it. Another apt example of disastrous branding was that of the Tata Nano car. Then CEO of Tata Motors Ratan Tata made a promise to create the cheapest car in the world; give people access to a four wheeled vehicle for just $2000. It was a good small car, compact but spacious and designed for two wheeler owners who aspired to a four wheeler. It was a sincere effort by the company to create a genuine opportunity for Indians with aspirations beyond the humble moped.

In creating the “cheapest car in the world” the company thought they were giving people what they wanted. However the company made the fatal mistake of grossly misunderstanding their ideal audience — an aspirational class who did not want to be reminded that this ‘cheapest car’ was all they could afford! The Nano brand became inextricably intertwined with economy so that the buyer would prefer a trendy $1000 motor bike to a $2000 car. The Nano failed to deliver on the aim of status enhancement that so many first time car owners wish for. Sales faltered, exports dwindled and the car became the object of unflattering social media memes. The company has now announced that the Nano will no longer be manufactured; it was the end of a dream. Perhaps a different, more effective branding exercise could have created a whole different story!

Listen to your ideal audience.

People remember how your brand makes them feel. To make your ideal audience feel good about your brand is to really listen to them; give them the validation they seek. Get honest feedback about your brand from people. Find out if their brand perception matches yours, whether your brand fulfills the real needs of the entrepreneur and try to create a real connect with them. Tweak, change, redefine and redesign your brand to be what your ideal audience desires.

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