• Transform magazine
  • August 20, 2019

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Insights: How these advertising mistakes can kill your brand

Magda Adamska (1).jpg

The 2019 Transform Awards Europe will celebrate excellence in rebranding and brand development for the 10th year. BrandStruck sponsored the awards

It is still surprising to see how many organisations spend enormous budgets on campaigns which do absolutely nothing for their respective brands. What advertising mistakes can kill a brand?

The first is a forgotten brand strategy. We often observe how brands both big and small fail to translate their brand strategies into communication. Knowing how they position themselves and then seeing the advertising ideas they choose never ceases to astound us.

Sometimes it is the fault of a badly-defined brand strategy, which might look reasonable on paper but is not applicable in practice. More often, however, it occurs when a much stronger emphasis is placed on finding a creative advertising idea than on conveying the brand’s message. The step of analysing how a brand strategy can be implemented in the campaign is simply missing from the creative process.

Always start with your brand strategy, regardless of whether you are running a huge image campaign, a tactical sales promotion or writing a short description for your social media page. Use every opportunity to strengthen the brand in the hearts and minds of your consumers.

Another challenge is to do with poor branding. Running a campaign which is poorly branded causes your consumers to recall your ads but not your brand. This is probably the biggest blunder marketers and creatives can make, as it might lead to a situation where your campaign does more good for your competitors than for your own product.


Ensure you have a wide array of branding assets, both mechanical – such as a logo, a distinct colour palette, a characteristic typeface, brand words (e.g., Disney’s ‘magic’), a tagline, a jingle, etc., and emotional – such as a unique tone of voice or a set of intended associations.

Once you have these assets, apply them wherever you can. Too much branding is better than not enough.

The third mistake brands make is regarding the Sophistication of their advertising. Now and again, we see an ad which is not obvious and we need to watch it a few times to understand what the author was trying to say. We would talk about it with other brand and advertising professionals, trying to decode the strategy behind it. However, if you think that your target audience is doing the same, you’re in trouble.

Both marketers and creatives often assume that consumers analyse advertising in the same way they do and therefore shouldn’t be served ‘obvious’ ads. This thinking is based on the belief that once consumers are intrigued by an ad or a brand they will search for more information about it elsewhere. Wrong.
People don’t care about your brand or your ad and don’t have the time or mental space to do any sort of analysis. That’s why your message needs to be as simple as possible, otherwise it will be lost.

You can always test your ad on a sample of respondents. Make your ad so well-branded that even if people don’t understand what you are trying to say, at least it will build some positive associations in their minds.

Finally, focusing on the new can kill a brand. People working in marketing and creative industries are obsessed with being innovative. They constantly try to reinvent their brand and say new things about it in new ways and using the trendiest media. The result? They do not build a strong brand but instead undermine its position by slowly killing its long-term brand equity, or spend too much money on excessive creative executions of the same idea and choose media which don’t deliver reach.

If you feel that there is a slight chance that you might overestimate how many consumers actually have seen your latest ad or have remembered your brand’s message, perform regular brand research and check what people recall about your brand. It takes years of consistent communication in high-reach media to build a brand’s awareness and establish certain associations with it, and even longer to make people remember your message. That is the reason Nike hasn’t changed its tagline for more than 30 years and Coca-Cola has been promoting taste, refreshment and happiness in its campaigns for decades.

Most of these mistakes could be avoided if brands on a mission to be creative and innovative were looking for inspiration in their own brand strategy, not somewhat beside it. It’s so worth it.

Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck