7 Deadly Sins and the Myths of Branding

I have just finished reading the book 'Brand Failures' by Matt Haig. And though there were still several books for me to write a review, I have decided to skip them all and do this first.

When I started as a freelancer, I was projecting a "Jack-of-all-trades" trait. I would litter my profile and portfolio with so many skills from admin support, customer and merchant service, project management, advertising, marketing, web research, content writing and web design.

Of course, I do have experience and fair enough knowledge of these fields, however I have dabbled on so many of them that I wasn't effective in juggling them anymore. I have to choose, to narrow and focus on the few and master it.

As it happens, I realized that I prefer to do marketing work. Having a background in marketing, when I took it as my minor degree in College, lately it was evident that I seem to really enjoy doing it. Of course, being that my major degree is in management, I feel that I have been applying its principles in administering our printing business and that seems enough.


In my journey on mastering my digital marketing skills, I try to manage having one foot on the fundamentals. And then I stumble upon this marketing and branding solutions book by Matt Haig. I feel that it is not just timely, personally, but it may prove helpful to anyone who is considering a shift or start a career in the field of marketing.

I must say this is a refreshing book to read, never dull and full of practical insights. What I like most about this book is the idea of learning from failures in order to succeed because I'm a self-confessed disciple of it.

There's just so many key points from this book that I'd like to highlight but I feel that I'd be robbing you the thrill of indulging this insightful book once you decided to read it. I'd like to present the gist of the book instead. Let me start with the seven deadly sins of branding listed by the author.

1) Brand amnesia.
Matt Haig said that when a brand forgets what it is supposed to stand for, it runs into trouble. I think it's essential to differentiate your brand from the rest, that's one safe way to succeed. Just like personal branding, let's say in my case, it's hard to be called an expert of something if I continue to be a jack-of-all-trades and be a master of none. It is essential therefore, in branding, to know what you are supposed to be and why. Know thyself, as Sun Tzu puts it, and then never forget who you are.

2) Brand ego.
Another thing that Matt points out was that brands sometimes develop a tendency for over estimating their own importance and capability. I believe that when it happens, it leads to complacency. In marketing, complacency can result to not doing the right market research and failing to exercise creativity. It can be disastrous because no company is immune to failure, so do brands.

3) Brand megalomania.
This branding deadly sin listed by Mr. Haig is most likely the result of egotism. When a brand thinks it's indispensable, it can develop a mindset that it will succeed in every path it takes. Thus, Matt said, when it happens, brands want to take over the world by expanding into every product category imaginable. In reality, this proves to be a fatal flaw, most of these attempts were likely to fail than succeed.

4) Brand deception.
At the most, the biggest deception happens in product advertisements. Brands project an almost perfect, too good to be true image. And it leads to high expectations and flawed perception in the consumers mind. Most brand fails because of deceiving its target market. Brand managers need to remember that too much expectation can lead to disappointment. You cannot hide a very bad product by putting a concealer, because it will wear off, and the truth can be ugly.

5) Brand fatigue.

This one happens too often. When companies get bored with their own brand it becomes a portal leading to decline of sales. Before, marketers were advised to have a 5-year marketing plan. Today, it is of utmost important to review, and if necessary revise it for every 3 months. When brand fatigue sets in, creativity fades. If you cannot compete competitively, your rivals will eat your brand wholeheartedly.

6) Brand paranoia.
The opposite of brand ego also proves to be a deadly mistake. You know your brand is being paranoid when its actions depends almost entirely in the competitors move. Monitoring, even analyzing the strategy of your rivals is good, but don't obsess or it will fire back. Being paranoid puts the brand always on the defensive move and unhealthy offensive steps. Instead of focusing on becoming better it becomes bitter.

7) Brand irrelevance. 
Matt explained it clearly that when a market radically evolves, the brands associated with it risk becoming irrelevant and obsolete. He said that brand managers must strive to maintain relevance by staying ahead of the category. That is why I think it is essential to monitor the trends and review marketing plans as often as possible.


Here are the six branding myths written in this book. In this part, I have jotted the brief and quoted in verbatim.

1) If a product is good, it will succeed. This is blatantly untrue. In fact, good products are as likely to fail as bad products.

2) Brands are more likely to succeed than fail. Wrong. Brands fail every single day. By launching a product you are taking a one in ten chance of long-term success. As Robert McMath said, it's easier for a product to fail than it is to survive.

3) Big companies will always have brand success. No company is big enough to be immune to brand disaster. As brands get bigger and more successful, they also become more vulnerable and exposed.

4) Strong brands are built on advertising. Advertising can support brands, but it can't build them from scratch.

5) If it's something new, it's going to sell. There may be a gap in the market, but it doesn't mean it has to be filled.

6) Strong brands protect products. This may have once been the case, but now the situation is reversed. Strong products now help to protect brands.



For a more in-depth understanding of why brands fail, I encourage you to read this book in its entirety.

P.S. Got questions? Connect with me on Twitter & Instagram -> @gizandcheese

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