The brand graveyard: the dreaded destination no brand wants to visit – but what exactly is it? Well, it is a concept based on both brand recognition and recall, so let’s start by defining those terms: brand recognition refers to how familiar a person is with your brand; for example, do you have a logo that is instantly recognisable? Or do people know you as soon as they hear your name? If you have answered yes, then chances are, your brand is pretty recognisable.
On the flip side, we have recall; where recognition is vague and has no real meaning attached to it, brand recall takes things up a notch. It refers to people not only knowing your brand but being able to recall exactly what you do and who you are. The more people can recall about your brand, the more likely they are to call on you when they require a product or service you offer.
So, what is the brand graveyard?
Of course, the ultimate goal is to have high levels of both recognition and recall – however, this is certainly not always the case. When we refer to the ‘brand graveyard’, we are talking about those brands with high recognition and low recall. This means yes, people are familiar with your brand, but they are unlikely to do business with you as they have little or no knowledge of what it is that you do.
If you’re sitting there wondering: “Is my brand in the dreaded graveyard?” here’s how you can find out: you need to ask two questions, one to establish whether they recognise your brand (this can be as simple as showing your logo and asking whether or not they are familiar with it), and another to identify if they can recall your brand, and if so, to what level.
It’s important to note that these questions should not be asked to your customers (because, of course, they know who you are and what you do), but rather people within your target audience who you wish to convert into customers for your business.
Is there a way out?
Now, breaking out of the graveyard can be incredibly difficult as people feel little need to listen to a story they are already familiar with; they would much rather hear about an exciting new brand. So, the million-dollar question is: how do you overcome this issue?
Well, don’t start digging your grave just yet – there is still hope. You need to think about how you can engage your target audience and get them to listen to a story they believe they already know everything about: and what’s the easiest way to find out what motivates and engages your target audience? Speak to your existing customers.
You need to not only ask why they do business with you but why they don’t work with your competitors; find out exactly what it is that gives your business that competitive edge. This is all about establishing your unique selling point (USP).
By looking beyond the visual aspects of your brand and prioritising leveraging the benefits of your business that have already successfully converted customers for you, it will be much easier to engage your target audience, start conversations and build relationships, and when the time is right, give them a reason to come back to you. Think about it: if you need financial advice for your business, are you more likely to contact the brand whose logo you recognise instantly but know nothing about or the brand that you know can offer the services you require and has successfully helped others like you in the past?
At the end of the day, the goal is for people to think of your brand first when they have a need that falls within your niche and encourage them to continuously seek out your brand in their hour of need.
And how do I avoid it?
Of course, the easiest way to escape the brand graveyard is to avoid it at all costs – but that’s easier said than done. To start you off, here are a few things you can do to help strengthen your brand and improve recall:
- Start with why: yes, it’s likely I’m telling you something you’ve heard countless times before, but starting with your purpose is key to building a strong brand; it not only differentiates your business but also helps your audience connect with you. Ultimately, you need to give people a reason to listen to your story and make them want to learn more about your brand. Remember: consumers want to work with brands that care, not just another cold, corporate company.
- Create a powerful USP: we’ve touched on this above, but having a strong USP can help your brand stand out in a crowded market and be remembered. In the words of Maxime Lagacé: “The more honest and unique a person is, the more that person attracts people. It’s the same for businesses.”
- Embrace storytelling: emotion sells, and more brands are recognising this, which is why we have seen an increase in brand storytelling. A great way to build relationships with your audience and make your brand both more engaging and memorable, storytelling taps into people’s emotions and helps to build relationships that last. Ultimately, if you are communicating in a way people can understand and relate to, the likelihood is they will listen.
- Be consistent: if you are trying to remember something important, the likelihood is you will repeat it, in the same way, several times until you do. Repetition is key for learning and reinforcing ideas, so, the more consistent you are, the more familiar your audience will become with your brand and the more likely they will be to understand and remember what you do.
- Don’t forget the visuals: while your visual identity should be one of your last considerations, it is still important. Having a powerful visual identity naturally helps improve brand recognition, but did you know it can improve recall, too? It offers more depth, making your brand more engaging (thus more memorable) and provides visual cues to reinforce your messaging.
In the words of Jeff Bazos: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” So, don’t fade into the background; give people a reason to take notice and listen to your story, and remember that hard work pays off.
If you are ready to take the leap and invest in upgrading your brand strategy, contact us today for a free consultation or head over to our services page here to see how we can help take your brand to the next level.