Everyone makes mistakes…. even transformative marketers.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to suffer through a little social media shaming and never have to endure the fallout of a nasty hit piece in Ad Week.

Dove Ad mistakes

But sometimes that little mistake, or as Dove claimed “missing the mark,” can turn into a full-blown brand crisis with millions of dollars of value in brand equity and profitability at stake. So, whether you’re running a billion-dollar brand or you’re an entrepreneurial marketer launching a new startup, it’s understandable that you would want to avoid making mistakes like this.

Some missteps are inevitable. You need to have a plan in place for when they happen, but some gaffes are more difficult to overcome and can have long-lasting consequences.

This is especially true if you’ve been tripped up by the same hurdles a few times. It can be challenging to convince your customers that those mistakes are anything but the norm. With this in mind, here are three common mistakes and tips to avoid costly errors.

1. Overlooking the Idiosyncrasies of Brand Identity

Many marketers focus on perfecting the art of branding – and for good reason. A well-designed brand identity (things like a logo, tagline, signage and compelling collateral) is the “face” of your business.

A well-executed logo not only provides your customers with a clear idea of your Brand Story but it also makes your business instantly recognizable in the marketplace. A poorly designed logo just leaves you scratching your head and wondering, “What on Earth were they thinking?”

Based on the sketch of this car, it seems like this doctor needs a better understanding of the word “detail.” For entrepreneurs on a Inc. 500 budget looking for a Fortune 500 impact, hire a professional designer or create your own using a logo maker.

Never underestimate the power of your company logo. It is not only the identity for your business, it also represents an identity in the mind of your customer. The best brands become a part of people’s lives and a part of their own personal story.

Consider what happened to Gap in October of 2010. The company launched a new logo in an attempt to project a more modern look.

The backlash from customers was overwhelming, and within two days, Gap was forced to roll back to their old logo. What happened?

Gap, known for everyday basics, attempted to makeover their image to appeal to a hip and trendy crowd. Unfortunately, they alienated their loyal customers in the process – the people who want the basics and aren’t interested in trendy styles!

It’s important to note that refreshing the Gap logo wasn’t a bad idea. The Gap marketing team just made the mistake of focusing on design aesthetics and ignoring the needs of their current brand advocates and buyer personas.

2. Failing to Have a Simple Yet Differentiated Brand Story

A simple, clear and fully aligned Brand Story has the potential to engage your customers and separate you from other companies in your industry. For example, if you run a national pizza franchise, a declarative story like “Best Pizza in Town” is probably not going to be sufficient.

To differentiate yourself from the competition, you will need to give your customers a reason to care, a reason to listen and a reason to engage. Consider the Papa John’s Brand Story:

Everybody thinks of Papa John’s when they hear: “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.”

Ironically, most customers don’t think that Papa John’s actually has the best ingredients – but most people will attribute that story to Papa John’s. Perhaps that’s why Round Table Pizza has adopted their Brand Story of “The Last Honest Pizza.” (Of course, that’s where brand alignment plays a large role – but we’ll save that for a different blog post.)

An effective Brand Story takes the vast details of your business and product and boils them down to a powerful sentence and, in some cases, just a few words. It must be clear, concise and forceful, ideally stirring emotion in the customer.

Papa John’s Story creates desire. After all, its claim of “better” implies everyone else’s pizza is “worse.” Round Table is taking the high ground with “integrity.”

So, what’s your Brand Story? What do customers think about you when placing an order? Better yet, what do you want them to feel? Why should they call you instead of someone else? What makes your “pizza” so special? Remember, just declaring that you’ve got the “best pizza in town” won’t cut it.

3. Underestimating the Power and Pull of Digital Marketing Systems

Transformational marketers know that if you want to accelerate sales, putting the right digital marketing systems in place is crucial to executing and scaling your strategy.

Crafting a social media campaign with compelling content and powerful imagery is one of the most effective ways to attract new customers, but social media doesn’t come without a fair degree of risk. In fact, you can just as easily put yourself out of business by forgetting how quickly news can spread via social media.

Sounds like a good problem right?

Timothy’s Coffees of the World did what many brands have done to increase sales – they offered a free sample to customers for following them on social.

Unfortunately, Timothy’s offered more than they could deliver. For “liking” Timothy’s on Facebook, the company offered to send fans four free 24-pack boxes of Keurig single cup coffees.

Unsurprisingly, customers were ecstatic and snapped up the offer – depleting the company’s supply of free K-cup packs after only three days. Two weeks later, the company’s marketing team sent out a message to customers saying the offer was “first come first serve.” Talk about too little too late.

Despite an apology video and distribution of free coupons in the mail, Timothy’s is still trying to recover from the fan backlash on social media. When it comes to social media, companies often focus on quantity (how many likes/followers/retweets) without thinking about why and how they plan to engage the customer after.

Your Systems not only should help you scale and execute your Strategy, but they must also be true to your Brand Story and align the inherent promises that it makes to customers.

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in one of these precarious situations with your brand. But just in case, learn more about how you can avoid these types of mistakes and take control of the ensuing mayhem by taking a transformational approach to marketing. Download our eBook: TRANSFORMATIONAL MARKETING: Moving to the TopRight, and discover how to tell a simple brand story, formulate a clear and winning go-to-market strategy, and fully align your marketing systems to execute your strategy with ruthless consistency.