We get this question often: what are the most common signs of a weak brand? When to start worrying about brand performance? Let’s talk about this.

The short answer is: your brand most likely sucks if it doesn’t get positive responses from its audience. In most cases, businesses know when their branding works, based on the compliments, engagement, recommendations, and referrals they get.

At Brand Auditor we collect tens of thousands of targeted customer feedbacks and rating data every week from various industries to evaluate the brand strength of our clients. Based on millions of data points we processed, we can tell that the top five signs of a poor brand are:

  1. Poor engagement
  2. No searches for your brand in Google or other search engines
  3. Poor sales, low conversion rate
  4. Business is seen as a commodity
  5. Nobody talks about your company

1. Poor engagement on social media channels

This is probably the most obvious sign of subpar brand performance. Poor engagement on your social media content is a tell-tale sign that your brand and marketing communications are not received well by your potential customers. 

Before rushing to conclusions, you need to understand what might be the reasons behind your poor social engagement.

  • Confusing, unclear brand positioning
  • Irrelevant marketing messages
  • Your content, ads and other marketing communication materials are designed poorly
  • Your audience is not interested in what you promote
  • You are promoting to the wrong audience

If you experience poor engagement, you need to look into your marketing communication practices.

Our marketing communications audit can help a lot to understand what the problems are.

2. Little to no brand search traffic from search engines

Another common signal of an unpopular brand is having little to no brand searches in Google, and other search engines. This practically means that hardly anyone is looking for your brand, and this can be for the following three reasons:

  • Your potential customers don’t know about your brand (low brand awareness)
  • Your potential customers don’t care about your business (low relevance, or poor business concept
  • Your search engine optimization is poor and they can’t find you

To find out what are the reasons for the first two options, you can consider using our brand awareness measurement audit, or the business concept audit. For search engine optimization services we recommend, we work with them to get Brand Auditor found online for the right keywords.

You don’t need to have large brand awareness to get people to search for your company online. Having a few hundred interested and engaged people is enough to get you regular organic search traffic. If you are building a brand for a small business, go for quality over quantity. Focus on introducing your company to people who are the most likely to become customers.

What happens when you are actively communicating to your target audience, your marketing gets positive responses but people don’t search for your company afterward? Chances are high that they liked your marketing but checking out your business left them confused, or found it not relevant.

3. Poor sales, low conversion rate

Poor sales, troublesome and uncomfortable sales processes are obvious signs of a poor brand. In a nutshell, your brand fails to convince potential customers to buy what your business is selling. Common reasons for this are the following:

  • Lackluster product presentation
  • Your perceived credibility is low
  • Confusing brand positioning
  • Inconvenient business model
  • Incorrect pricing
  • Poor brand and customer experience

If your customers are faced with one or more items from this list, they will no longer see your products or services as a preferred option. They will most likely move on to buy from another company – your only chance to win back customers will be excess discounting or offering excess value. 

To address these issues, you will need to get back to the drawing board and redesign your product presentation, value proposition, and demonstration of relevant competencies. Analyzing website statistics, funnels, and other business intelligence will provide some understanding of which areas are lacking.

We advise addressing this issue as fast as possible, as promoting your brand with lacking qualities can sabotage your business in the long term. 

4. Customers treat your business like a commodity

If your business is treated as a commodity, then it means that the differentiation, perceived value, and respect for your brand are close to nothing. Your credibility however must be good if people buy from you in large volumes.

The issue with being treated as a commodity is that you won’t be able to increase prices or introduce new elements in your business model to increase your profitability. Talking about profitability, being in commodity status puts your business at risk of high competition where the only tool to win market share is reducing rates.

What to do if your business became a commodity?

Harvard Business School wrote an excellent article about this topic:

But how do you survive if you find yourself in a commoditizing industry characterized by me-too products, overcapacity, and frequent price cuts? How can you make money?

  1. Decide which customers you do NOT want to serve, try renegotiating prices with them and, failing that, fire them. You will lose market share but improve profitability. 
  2. Compensate your salesforce on profit margin, not sales revenues. A volume-based salesforce will sign up any customer, regardless of profitability. That’s OK early in the product life cycle but not in maturity. 
  3. Trim costs and acquire competitors (with profitable customers) to extract maximum scale economies in procurement, manufacturing, and distribution. 
  4. If you aren’t the low cost producer, complicate your pricing structures so customers can’t easily make side-by-side comparisons, and provide discounts as needed of artificially inflated published prices.

Facing commoditization and non-existent product innovation, some companies retreat to serving a progressively smaller niche of price-insensitive, service-oriented customers. Others with favorable cost structures may aim to boost market share but then face the challenge of managing hybrid distribution, as some customers want to switch to buying through distributors (at lower prices) while other customers still seek direct sales support (but may not be willing to pay to cover the cost).

However you approach commoditization, try to innovate at all costs to beat it back. Because, as Peter Drucker said: “In a commodity market, you can only be as good as your dumbest competitor.”

5. Nobody talks about your company

You might use social listening and brand sentiment tools like Brand24 or Sprout Social. If hardly anyone mentions you online other than reacting to your ads or content then your brand has a problem – most likely the mixture of all the above.

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