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Just this morning I was on the way to work and saw a delivery truck with branding for a well known local bakery. The logo was faded, but still easily recognisable.

As a marketer with a passion for good branding that made me sad. That brand is a visible symbol of a respected local business, and it looked like it had been neglected by it’s owners. They have obviously lost interest in how their brand is presented, and whoever drives the truck, who is also a “brand ambassador” at the frontline for consumers and the retail trade he delivers to, probably doesn’t care either.

Interestingly, bad branding seems to grab attention much more easily than good branding and when you see a brand that’s been defaced or damaged you tend to notice it more.

And it’s a sad fact that negative perceptions are hard to shift.

You probably know plenty of friends or co-workers or family members who love to tell you about their bad experiences with brands. Generally even the most active promoters of brands are also the ones who’ll take the opportunity to criticise a brand that had previously been their flavour of the month.

If you’re creating negative associations for your brand through neglect, you’re inviting the negative word-of-mouth (WOM) that follows when people suffer bad experiences with brands.

If you’re running your own small business you’re probably responsible for marketing it to, unless you’re lucky enough to have a team of professional marketing consultants helping you out from time to time! Or perhaps you’re in a larger business and have a dedicated staff member who can take responsibility for the brand and its presentation.

Like a plumber who doesn’t see taps dripping at home, it’s easy to ignore when you’re brand is starting to look a little shabby. And I’m not just talking about your logo. Your brand and its associated values are communicated in many ways…

Here are a few things you might want to give some attention. Think of it as a “negative branding” checklist.

  • If your brand appears on vehicles, are the vehicles clean?
  • How tidy is the garden in front of your business?
  • Is the street signage in good order?
  • How do your front of house staff present themselves?
  • If you have a retail store are the products in your store neat and clean?

Those are a few things you might want to pay attention to in real life, but the same goes for your brand in the online space:

  • Is your website clearly branded and does it look right on mobile?
  • Is your brand presented consistently across all social media profiles?
  • Is your blog up to date or did you last post in 2013?

Invite your customers to let you know how you could present your brand better, and while you’re at it, how you could provide better service. You might be surprised at what they see, and you don’t!

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