5 Reasons Your Brand Plan Isn’t Working

A crashed rocket

You know how important it is to have a brand plan so you can build a business that is the #1 answer to the question …

“Who can help me with [your topic]?”

You want your business to have a brand people remember and associate with positive emotions like trust, confidence, and helpfulness.

But something isn’t quite right. You started out with a plan, but it’s not working. And you can’t quite put your finger on the exact reason your brand plan is failing your business.

Never fear … today’s article will help. Chances are there are one or two things that are off track. Once you’ve got them working again, your brand will start doing its job — to create a recognizable industry-leading business.

Read on so you can figure out where your brand isn’t working.

1. Truth is, you don’t have a brand plan

Is your brand plan written down?

That’s right — written.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but you do need something to guide your efforts.

If your plan isn’t written down, over time your visual and verbal brand may start to get a little messy around the edges.

You’ll find yourself experimenting with new fonts. Trying different color combinations. Tweaking your tagline to suit the occasion.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that you can’t update your brand ever. But changing your brand should be a deliberate action, no something you do on a whim.

For more on putting together a basic style guide, read Design 101 | A Cheat Sheet That Will Keep You Honest.

2. You have a brand plan, but you’re not consistent about implementing it

So you have a written style guide. Good for you!

How long has it been since you looked at it? (Be honest).

If it’s been while since you’ve reviewed your brand style guide, add an item to your calendar to read through it every six months or so. Make sure that any vendor who does brand-related work for your business is familiar with your guidelines and follows them to the letter.

Style guidelines exist to be implemented: don’t let your guidelines collect dust.

3. You run after shiny objects and change your approach frequently

I get it — it’s tempting. You see a new font. You hear an amazing tagline. You come across a website with a gorgeous color palette you’d love to try.

And you get itchy to try them out. You wish you could pull everything apart and start all over with a new, fresh look!

Persistence, my friend. Persistence!

It’s the unglamorous secret to all business success. Crafting a plan and then working that plan consistently over time will help you build a recognizable brand.

So stick with it. Unless, of course, your audience or offer have changed. In that case, read on.

4. Your audience has changed

Sometimes there’s a legitimate reason to change your brand plan. This section and the next address two situations that merit stepping back from your plan and rethinking it so it fits your new situation.

In some cases, the audience you serve changes. You start out thinking you’re going to serve 25-35-year-old female triathlon participants, but it turns out that your business does really well with the 55-65-year-old female hobbyist running population.

So you shift. And the brand you developed for the younger, more intensely-focused athlete shifts with you.

If your business has evolved, your brand should evolve, too. Again — make this a deliberate process and create a new plan that you can follow over time.

5. Your offer has changed

Sometimes — like in the example above — your offering needs to change, too.

You start out with a group of products or services. In your mind, products A, B, and C will be your top sellers. Products D and E are afterthoughts that are complementary to your main offerings.

But out of the blue, product E begins to take off. You can’t keep up with demand. A whole new customer group develops around product E. You’ve got raving fans who but, talk about, and share product E with their friends.

If this happens, you brand may need to change, too. Don’t fight success — embrace it!

How to get your brand back on track

The first step to aligning your brand with the current state of your business is to make sure you have a clear understanding of your target market, or ideal customer. Don’t be afraid to focus in on who you want to serve

The second step to whipping your brand back into shape is to ensure that you are fully expressing your brand personality. Are you accurately portraying the kind of brand you want to have? Take my ten minute Brand Personality Quiz to find out.

The third step is to check to be sure your visual brand — including your font and color choices — are communicating what you want them to. Read this page for guidance on choosing your brand colors. And read this page for help with choosing and using the best fonts for your brand.

That may be all you need to do to get your brand back on track. But occasionally, your business is so out of alignment with your brand that you need to choose a new business name.

Related resources

How’s your brand plan working for you? If you need extra help, explore the resources below.

Related: The Transformative Effect of a Well-Built Brand Statement

Related: The Easy Way to Create Stunning Branded Images in 30 Minutes or Less

Related: Should You Build a Personal Brand or a Business Brand?

Related: How to Fit a Powerful Brand Style Guide on a 3-Inch Sticky Note

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people to build profitable online businesses. She's an online educator, author, and keynote speaker. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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8 thoughts on “5 Reasons Your Brand Plan Isn’t Working”

  1. I am having a really hard time with creating my brand and establishing it; I reach out to younger women ages 18-45 and my brand is traditional because my content is of heavier nature. But I struggle with my image, colors and brand personality because this audience is drawn to a more youthful look. How do I do traditional but keep my audience’s attention? Please help!

  2. Great timing Pamela. My brand is definitely getting messy. I have different target markets than when I first started building my online biz 6+ years ago. And they are quite polarized. Young skater boys 50+ women.

    That’s quite the teeter totter. Interestingly, they are separated into distinct camps. The skater boys like Instagram and YouTube. They don’t do websites, email or Facebook. The women read my blog and sign up for my free and paid courses, and are on Facebook.

    Thankfully I’m making decent money on YouTube so I’m okay with the teeter totter, and am building a free course on YouTube just for those skater boys. It’s not likely they will pay for anything at this point in their lives. And their generation believes everything online should be free anyway. This post reminded me to take stock of who my website is for. Looks like I have some work to do!

    • It sounds like you have a pretty good feel for the likes and dislikes of each audience, which is a huge plus, Marlene. Do you think you’ll adapt the way you present your brand to each? Or just the offers you make?

      It’s a cool problem to have, I must say. And you’re right: those two audiences couldn’t be any more different!

      • Yes, I’ll definitely have to adapt to each group. My brand will likely stay similar, but my offers will be completely different. I don’t even expect the skater boys to visit my website. But, I need to make their YouTube videos messy, edgy and “sick” (that is the skater word for what us old folks call “cool”) and use music that I don’t actually enjoy listening to. Watch this space!

        • So cool! I can’t wait to see it.

          Once you’ve got things in place, please get back in touch and I can write a post about it. It’s an interesting dilemma and I’ll bet readers would love to learn from how you handle it. 🙂

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