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The 7 Deadly Sins and Myths of Branding


My active pursuit in honing my skills recently made me stumble upon a marketing and branding solutions book by Matt Haig. And I realized that this is something worth sharing here on the blog because it may prove helpful to anyone who wants to strengthen their skill or broaden their knowledge in marketing and advertising.

I must say this was a refreshing book to read, it's never dull and full of practical insights. Also, what I like most about this book was the honest scrutiny of the failures of famous brand names. It dive deeper into the why's, how's, and what made it a success or a failure. Thus, it's a good reference book on succeeding in the marketing and advertising world and it's indeed viable to read and heed.

There are so many takeaways from this book that I'd like to write all about it here, but I feel that I'd be robbing you of the thrill in indulging this insightful book once you decided to read it. I'd like to present the gist of the book instead, highlighting only those I deem as key points.

1) Brand amnesia.
Matt Haig said that when a brand forgets what it is supposed to stand for, it runs into trouble. I think it's essential to differentiate your brand from the rest, that's one safe way to succeed. Just like personal branding, let's say in my case, it's hard to be called an expert of something if I continue to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. It is essential therefore, in branding, to know what you are supposed to be and why. Know thyself, as Sun Tzu puts it, and then never forget who you are.


2) Brand ego.
Another thing that Matt points out was that brands sometimes develop a tendency to overestimate their own importance and capability. I believe that when it happens, it leads to complacency.

In marketing, complacency can result to not doing the right market research and failing to exercise creativity. It can be disastrous because no company is immune to failure, and so do brands.


3) Brand megalomania.
This branding deadly sin listed by Mr. Haig is likely the result of egotism. When a brand thinks it is indispensable, it can develop a mindset that it will succeed in every path it would like to take. Hence, Matt said when it happens, brands want to take over the world by expanding into every product category imaginable. In reality, this proves to be a fatal flaw, most of these attempts were likely to fail than succeed.


4) Brand deception.
At the most, the biggest deception happens in product advertisements. Brands project an almost perfect, too good to be true image. This lead to high expectation and flawed perception in the consumers mind.

Most brand fails because of deceiving its target market. Brand managers need to remember that too much expectation can lead to disappointment. You cannot hide a very bad product by putting a concealer because it will wear off, and the truth may be ugly.


5) Brand fatigue.

This one happens too often. When companies get bored with their own brand it becomes a portal leading to decline of sales.

Before, marketers were advised to have a 5-year marketing plan. Nowadays however, it is very important to review, and if necessary revise it every three months.

When brand fatigue sets in, creativity fades. If you cannot compete competitively, your rivals will eat your brand wholeheartedly.


6) Brand paranoia.
The opposite of brand ego also proves to be a deadly mistake. You know your brand is being paranoid when its action depends almost entirely in the competitors move. 

Monitoring, even analyzing the strategy of your rivals is good, but don't obsess or it will backfire. Being paranoid puts the brand always on the defensive move and unhealthy offensive steps. Instead of focusing on becoming better it is becoming bitter.


7) Brand irrelevance. 
Matt explained it cleverly that when a market radically evolves, the brands associated with it, risk on becoming irrelevant and obsolete.

It's suggested in the book that brand managers must strive to maintain relevance by staying ahead of the category. That is why I think it is essential to monitor the trends and review marketing plans as often as possible.


Moving on, let's look at the six branding myths written in this book that are worth discussing. In this part, I have jotted the brief and quoted some in verbatim.

1) If a product is good, it will succeed. This is blatantly untrue. In fact, good products are as likely to fail as bad products.

2) Brands are more likely to succeed than fail. Wrong. Brands fail every single day. When launching a product you are taking a one in a ten chance of long-term success. As Robert McMath said, it's easier for a product to fail than it is to survive.

3) Big companies will always have brand success. No company is big enough to be immune to brand disaster. As brands get bigger and more successful, they also become more vulnerable and exposed.

4) Strong brands are built on advertising. Advertising can support brands, but it can't build them from scratch.

5) If it's something new, it's going to sell. There may be a gap in the market, but it doesn't mean it has to be filled.

6) Strong brands protect products. This may have once been the case, but now the situation is reversed; strong products now protects brands.

For a more in-depth understanding of why brands fail, I encourage you to read the book in its entirety.

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