Corporate leaders are not the only ones that undermine the brand. In order for you to know if you are undermining your brand or not, you must first understand what your brand is.

Do you know? Can you explain what your brand is with three or four words? If not, then your brand has little value to undermine already.

You may want to start thinking about what your brand used to be, or what it always was intended to be, but never was.

You see, your brand is the single most important asset you have. Not a building, a product, or a service. It’s your brand!

Let’s talk first about what qualities a brand must possess in order for it to have a chance of longevity.

It needs to be:

  • Believable
  • Defendable

Believable Brand

This personality trait ‘Brandality’ is self-explanatory. People simply need to believe in your brand.

They don’t need to necessarily believe in your product or your service. But if your brand is strong, they might take a risk and buy your product or service anyway.

What better example to use for the ‘believability’ of a brand than Apple? Sure, they have decent computers, a little pricey, an iPad that is cool to have, but also pricey. And of course the iPhone that, even with all of its troubles, still sells simply because it is an Apple product. How? Why?

Apple has been able to not necessarily prove that their products are ‘out of this world.’ Instead, they have been able to consistently show that if you use Apple products, you will be part of the ‘Apple Family’.

This family consists of the cool, the intelligent, creative and savvy, as well as the famous (as utilized in almost every movie scene where an actor is sitting in front of a computer or laptop, with the famous Apple logo glowing on the lid), or even the ingenuity of world renowned DJs where their Apples glow in the darkness of nightlife.

So why is the Apple brand so believable? Because people you look up to, people you know, people you trust, are using one right now, or have suggested, that if you want to be like them, you should have an Apple too. We humans are a herding species.

Defendable Brand

This trait is a little more tricky. When someone says ‘defend’, you imagine a more engaging activity, like that of a public defender, protecting the credibility of their client. Or a boxer, blocking the blows of his opponent.

Well, brand ‘defendability,’ is not too far off from those thoughts. Perhaps defending a brand is a little less dramatic, and surely less painful. Or maybe not.

Here is where the value of a brand stands its test of time. Like that of exercising where it is said the hardest part of getting your body the way you want it, is keeping it that way. Maintenance and dependability are synonymous.

Yes, the ability to defend your brand, is where your brand becomes more believable. It’s like yin and yang. You cannot have one without the other.

How Do Corporate Leaders Undermine a Brand?

Corporate leaders are usually far removed from the neuroscience used to develop a brand strategy. Often, the brand is developed, presented, celebrated, and institutionalized, and then begins the destabilization of the brand.

Because a brand is so critically intertwined into the fabric of a business, whether you want it to be or not, everything from sales, technology, and human resources live or die by the brand. So how do corporate leaders undermine the corporate brand? Here are some examples:

1. Business Decisions that Do Not Support the Brand

  • Launching a new product or service that may be lucrative, but does not support the brand believability/defendability of the current brand posture.
  • Ask yourself: Which is more important, a product that may yield short-term returns, or a brand that yields returns for generations to come?
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2. Corporate Structure that Does Not Support the Brand

  • A company that sells itself as a creative company that, through its services, assists others in being more creative. But the company itself has corporate policy that stifles in-house creativity. What’s good for the goose.
  • Ask yourself: Would you dare to drive a Mercedes to your client that just purchased a BMW from you?

3. Hiring Practices Fail to take into Consideration the Corporate Brand

  • Everyone employed in your establishment should not only know the brand, but more importantly, understand its history, its reasoning, and its applicability to the client.
  • Ask yourself: If you were to draw your brand as a person, and give it a personality, how many of your employees measure up?

4. Sales Strategy Lacks Brand Value Context

  • Sales teams are trained to focus on the product or service and pay little attention to the brand value, and thus rarely share that value proposition to prospective clients
  • Ask yourself: How well does your client know your brand, beyond the logo or slogan? Can they recite your story?

5. No Defense Strategy

No matter how good your product or service is, there will always be customers who are short of being satisfied:

  • If a client is unsatisfied, there are no pre-fabricated strategies that can be quickly and easily proposed to assist the client ‘feel better’ about the displeasure.
  • If a client has questions about ‘rumors’ of the product/service, employees are unaware of such ‘rumors’; therefore there is no forethought as to how to respond.
  • If a client is unhappy, simply because they are unhappy. There is all too often a response that we as consumers all cringe at, “Sorry, but there is nothing more I can do.”
  • Ask yourself: Do you typically allow individuals to question your character, without reaction? How do you react? Do you conserve relationships, or do your keep your torch lit, ready to burn the bridge?

6. No Data Wisdom

  • There is an abundance of data, yet data warehousing is usually done in a way that is more congruent to the acquisition of clientele. However, it is rarely applied to the management of existing clients. Remember, humans are a herding species, especially when we buy.
  • The advertising world has amazing know how to lure you to purchase a product/service, but fail to use the same information to keep you coming back. It’s not enough to warehouse data, which only provides knowledge. Wisdom is the understanding and effective application of that knowledge for your benefit. Learn from your data. Don’t just analyze it, understand it.
  • Ask yourself: How much work do you think it takes to sell to a new customer compared to the client that has already won our trust? Your brand makes it easier to sell. Simple science.

How Do Leaders Undermine Their Brand?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Nelson Santiago
Nelson is co-founder of Picasso Einstein a firm that provides branding consulting services for businesses. They also teach entrepreneurship to persons with disabilities and their families through the "E4i" (Entrepreneurship 4 Independence) program. Picasso Einstein is currently assisting the Dan Marino Foundation to develop the Entrepreneurship Program for the Marino Campus, a school of higher learning for young adults with developmental disabilities.