The Branding Mistake Even Smart People Make

Branding mistakes

Smart business people are great to have on your side to help isolate and eliminate fundamental branding mistakes. Why else do you think business line up and volunteer to swim in the potentially scathing and sometimes brutal Shark Tank?

It’s to get h-e-l-p from people who k-n-o-w.

Here are some facts:

  • Some tools strengthen a brand.
  • Some give a brand a better design and appearance.
  • Others disrupt the universe and change the game and your branding power way out of proportion to what you could anticipate.

I would put this blog post into this last category. Read on and you’ll see why.

Lights! Camera! Action!

As the Shark Tank TV hit has proven, little can replace the real-time power of seeing a bright mind who’s been there to provide honest, no B.S. answers to real-world business questions.

During a rare TV interview, I unveiled a little-known — and extremely powerful — tool that’s been used to double, triple and quadruple sales for clients.

It’s more than a tool. It’s actual the three phases of branding. By applying this,

  • One client saw sales literally triple in 30 days
  • Another client saw sales in their first quarter exceed their entire previous year’s sales
  • Another incorporated this tool discussed below to see sales triple for 2 years in a row after their rebrand was launched

The use of these three phases has helped brands with limited budgets to maximize their impact and fortify the loyalty customers have to their brands. It’s not a factor of spending more, it’s just knowing where to intelligently invest in your brand.

100% or 66%?

A brand follows a sequence from the experience of the customer. It starts before they’ve ever bought, or possibly heard of, your product or service. It then progresses through and concludes at some point.

Problem is, too many companies end that sequence at the point of sale, leaving an entire third of the brand experience out of the transaction forfeiting loyalty, relevance and a chance to outshine the competition.

The Three Phases of Branding for Business Success

AND THE 3 PHASES OF BRANDING (transcription)

While you can view the video above, you can also, for the first time, read along with the transcription below and share the transcript with colleagues.

David: Would this excite you?  Would it really excite you?  That was one of the questions I asked and she was like, “Oh my goodness, probably not.”

Interviewer: This is really good, David.  You’re getting us to undilute ourselves when you’re saying, “Be the concentrated you.”

David: Be the concentrated you. I like that.

Interviewer: Full saturation, right?

David: With pulp. Absolutely, absolutely. When I take a sip and it’s the essence of you, I want pulp in my teeth.

Interviewer: That’s right.

David: I just want to know that this has been freshly squeezed, never frozen.

Interviewer: Don’t you find as a consumer that you can repeat business to a place that is fun to be at, fun to shop at?

David: Completely.

Interviewer: I mean, I think that’s just a huge next phase maybe that we’re in of study of business effectiveness is what’s the attitude of your employees toward people that they’re servicing?  So to kind of bring them all together around a brand, I think, is very powerful.

David: Absolutely.


Interviewer: There’s something else that you speak to which I think is good food for thought for all of us and that is this idea of the brand experience – maybe we’ve kind of been touching upon it, but beyond the sale. Beyond me going to the Bridge Street Station or ordering a Big Dot of Happiness. How high is a consumer going to sort of continuously have loyalty toward this brand so it would cause me to either be a repeat customer or we talked about positive buzz with my colleagues and friends. Can you talk a little bit more to that, how you coach your companies?

David: Essentially, really I’ve kind of broken it down to there’s three phases of a brand.  Very routinely companies will focus on sort of what I call the pre-sales branding, a little advertising…

Interviewer: See an ad in a magazine.  Oh, a new eye shadow. 

David: New email blasts.

Interviewer: I should see if they have that at the department store.

David: Yep.  Then there’s the during-the-sales branding or during the experience. So in other words, if I’m going to a salon, okay, “How am I being treated during that time?”  Maybe I’m buying something or maybe I’m actually just being services and I’m getting something done. But it’s something during that time and so the focus goes on those two very routinely.


The third and most overlooked place is after the sale when it is least expected.

Interviewer: Who thinks about that?

David: Who thinks about that?

Interviewer: I don’t think hardly anybody does.

David: But you know that Bloomingdales, actually for I don’t know probably 20 years, has done that where during the holiday season they would always create these designer bags that never said Bloomingdales on them. They were the coolest designer bags and women would walk around with them and whenever you would see a woman walk around with these cool bags, you would immediately think that Bloomies. Wasn’t necessary. And that was their investment. And it was part of their cost of sale.


The Joanna Vargas Salon – when someone comes to one of their….

Interviewer: This is a gorgeous bag.  I want to live in this bag.

David: You and me both.

Interviewer: I’m just going to move in.

David: I hear there are a couple spaces still available, so we could talk about rental arrangements. Great view of Central Park, by the way.

But the thing about this was their bag previously didn’t have all the right look and feel. We revamped the Joanna Vargas brand and changed it from Joanna Vargas Salon to actually – well it was still Joanna Vargas Salon, but instead of just being “skin care,” it’s now “Skin Care Sanctuary.” And we created this beautiful look because we wanted women to have a sense of pride when they bought a product and then walked out.

What we found was that when women were in the salon and they were buying product, they would – sometimes they would put it in their purse and wouldn’t necessarily want the bag.

Interviewer: Oh, of course! Because we have a green movement.

David: But after this bag – right.

Interviewer: The environment. Right. So someone would say, “I don’t need the bag…”

David: “I’ll save a tree.”

Interviewer: Right, I’ll save a tree.  I see that, yeah.

David: That sort of disappeared after this bag came out.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

David: Because all of a sudden, it was like, “Oh sure, I’ll take the bag.”

Interviewer: I’ll take the bag. Lip balm this big…I’ll take a bag.

David: I’ll take the bag.  Can I have a business card?  Can I get a bag with that, please?  I mean whatever it was.  It was pretty outstanding and we hand-selected these two different types of tissue paper to pick up, so this worked as an ensemble.

But is that necessary?  No.  Is it necessary to grow?  Yes.

Why Does This Work So Damn Well?

Because it exceeds expectation — when the customer does not expect you do to anything more. Expectation is a powerful tool. Use it to excel, grow and form bonds. Ignore expectation standards and you’ll be just another predictable shortsighted brand.

Think of it this way: If all you do is what the customer expects, where’s the magic? Where’s the “Wow factor”?

Marriage is a great example where the predictable can make an otherwise satisfying and fun marriage unnecessarily dull and burdensome. Think of each customer as a mini-marriage.

This is real, powerful and highly effective. If you use it, it will grow your brand.

Sometimes the stumbling block is being too close to your brand and product line. That’s understandable and fairly common.

So if you need a hand, drop us a line.

We’re glad to help.

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