Recently, I went into a business I frequent and my attention was grabbed when I saw one of the staff members organizing a pile of glossy, extra large doorhangers. These pretty placards had all the relevant information about the business you’d expect, or so I thought. Upon second look, it was evident they were about four years old, with completely outdated information and pricing, and the old website address—which the staff member was crossing out with a Sharpie! When I jokingly asked if they were really going to put these out, I was expecting an equally humorous reply. I wasn’t prepared for just how humorous though, as the person responded “yes, we are.” (Long pause while waiting for the punchline. None came.) “But these are old and there is no current info on them! Plus you’re marking them all up!” His reply was astonishing: “Yeah, I know but at least it’s getting the logo out there. We’re gonna go flyer some cars at Wal-Mart.”

So let me get this straight: You’re purposely putting out information you know to be false, and in a Wal-Mart parking lot no less? Just how much traffic do you think that antiquated strategy ended up generating for them? First off, people don’t like their cars messed with. Secondly, even if 1 out of 50 people kept the flyer and wanted to learn more, they were going to be driven to a website that doesn’t exist, and under a pretense of wrong information and pricing on services. How does that help the business grow? What kind of impression does misinformation leave with people about that brand?

This got me thinking about branding strategies and how often times the simplest method is the best. In the above case, the associate was right on one thing; their logo was getting out there. I guess. But attached to that logo was inaccurate, outdated information which could potentially do far more harm than good. This is why heading into 2015 and beyond, most companies will need to segment their audience and deliver concise content to them. Part of the very core of any branding strategy is to deliver the message clearly, establish your credibility and motivate the buyer to take action. (Kings of branding like Budweiser, Nike and Coca-Cola get an A+ for this.) The business in my example was essentially doing the opposite! The point here, is that you don’t need to have a Fortune 500 company to run a successful branding campaign. Stick to the basics! You just need to have a clear message, (with current and relevant content) and use the right channels to get it to the right audience, hopefully avoiding those Wal-Mart parking lots in the process. Then you can sit back and watch your customer base and loyalty grow.

There’s still beauty in simplicity.

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