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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

The 6 Warning Signs Your Branding Is Holding You Back

Building a strong brand shouldn’t be at the bottom of your list. From attracting the wrong audience to unclear messaging, there are all sorts of clues that reveal your branding is missing the mark. You just need to know where to look…

Cartoon of a person climbing a ladder about to push the off button, representing the brand being held back

It’s easy to let all things branding drop into the non-urgent pile. There’s always a tidal wave of day-to-day tasks to contend with and, if you get through those, a sea of strategic decisions to be made.

But here’s the thing. That disappointing ad campaign, the fall in sales, the tough time you’re having recruiting? It could easily be down to the simple fact your visual ID isn’t cutting the mustard and ‘building a strong brand’ has simply dropped off your over-crowded radar.

That’s why, every year, it pays to run a brand health check. And these are the warning signs you’re looking for…

1. Your brand isn’t saying what you need it to

The clever thing about good branding is that it speaks volumes, often without saying a word. Done well, it encapsulates what you do, who you do it for, and what you stand for as a company in a succinct, glance-and-you-get-it kind of way. On the flipside, a weak brand will fail to get across these messages, leaving the door open for confusion – what does this company do? Who is it aimed at?

People haven’t got the patience to stick around and uncover the mysteries a weak brand poses – especially when there’s a raft of competitors ready and waiting to present their case loud and clear.

2. Your customers aren’t who you were expecting

When you set out in business, you hone in on a particular audience like a lion does an antelope lunch. But fast forward a few years and you might find you’re attracting a totally different crowd. It’s a bit like expecting the cast of Love Island and getting a group of representatives from the Green Party instead – there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, it’s just not what you had in mind.

You do need to ask yourself some pressing questions, though. Is this working for your business? And, equally, is it working for these customers? (after all, repeat business is a beautiful thing). Also, is this slice of the pie as big as the one you were originally reaching for? Whatever your answers, there’s a good chance your branding is behind the change in customer profile.

3. You’re fading into the wallpaper

A regular competitor check is part and parcel of building a strong brand. Line up your branding alongside your five main opponents. Does yours stand out? Does it say that you’re the expert and the one to choose? If it does, well done – you’re on to a winner. If it doesn’t and you’ve started to look like clones of each other, a rebrand could be on the cards. Remember, even if your branding was cutting edge when you first unveiled it, other start-ups, or even established businesses, might have decided they want a piece of what you’ve got. As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… and a killer for brands looking to stand out.

4. You’re indifferent towards your look and feel

Ask yourself how you feel about your brand first. Do you like it? Have you become a bit blind to it? Once you’ve made your own mind up, seek out the opinions of your colleagues and see if they feel the same. By doing an internal temperature check, you can find out how passionate employees are about your brand and whether it’s ticking their boxes. If you get a luke-warm response, it could mean your office culture – and, in turn, productivity levels – could be taking a hit. You want people to be excited about your brand and what it stands for, not indifferent or, even worse, anti it.

5. You’re finding it harder to recruit the right people

When Google or Apple post a job ad, half the world applies. Yes, okay, they’re international powerhouses, but when people see a brand they’d love to work for, they clamour to get their applications in.

On the flipside, if they see a brand they perceive to be boring, generic or cheap, they click off the ad faster than you can say ‘I’m a professional, get me out of here’. You want people to be ultra-keen to work for your organisation, and for that you need a rock-solid identity that appeals.

6. You’re not in the races when it comes to social

Log on to your social media accounts and look at the last 6 months’ activity. Sure, you might have posted your fair share of comments and pictures, but are your customers responding? The key word when it comes to social is interaction. You want customers to be excited enough about your brand to engage with you across Facebook, Twitter and Insta.

If you’ve been busy building a strong brand, you’ll have people falling over themselves to have conversations with you, share their feedback and engage in a bit of friendly banter. If it’s weak, your feeds are likely to resemble a one-way street with added tumbleweed.

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An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.


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