Brand KillersYour administrative and production folks can be well-meaning when they offer their suggestions, but they can unintentionally kill your brand. Because they don’t have street experience in the marketplace, they can make decisions that can undo years of brand building.

In their desire to understand the nature and success of the brand, non-sales staff wants simple answers to the complex elements of brand success. They want everything boiled down to its simplest common denominator. But therein lies the problem. In their desire to make a good impression, they can overlook something critical to the brand’s success. Because they don’t work in sales, they are unaware of why the sales staff is successful. When your office and production staff really understand the demands of the market, then their input will be practical.

When was the last time your administrative and production people were out in the field riding with your salespeople? From where they sit in their isolated and insulated offices, sales seem like a given. Your salespeople talk to your customers every day. They know their needs and expectations. They are painfully aware of what the competition is doing and how the market works. To make changes in the product, the price, the packaging, or the marketing materials without your sales team’s experienced input is asking for trouble.

Here are 3 of the 7 Brand-Killing Mistakes your administrative and production people can make:

1. Cost Cutting.

“Why don’t we just cut 50 cents a unit from our production costs? At our level of sales, why, we will save …” Cost-cutting measures should be done with efficiencies of scale, but not result in cheapening the product. The customer will notice any change in quality or packaging. Consider if it is worth the few bucks you’ll save if it means you will open the door for competition. Sales don’t stay the same when you reduce even the perception of value.

2. Simplification.

“Why don’t we just have a uniform package? It would make my life so much easier.” Packaging options may make your products more appealing to a variety of decision makers all along the distribution chain. Ask your sales team the reasons why the market and distribution demands such variation.

3. Standardization.

Production people may say, “We need to make our products look and feel closer to the standard in the industry. Why don’t we just change the product so it will look more like the fastest selling brand?” Maybe the reason for your brand’s growth is it offers something better than standard. Or, it may offer an alternative that buyers appreciate. The ‘safety in numbers’ philosophy has snuffed out many unique and sparky brands.

Notice the reoccurring use of the question, “Why don’t we just…?” It sounds so simple, so innocent and so obvious. But it is the signature of inexperience and the harbinger of brand killers. There may be some critical reasons why we don’t “just…”

Your administrative and production teams need to get out of their familiar surroundings, away from their agreeable colleagues, and into the field, to understand how the product really distinguishes itself and gets through the distribution channels. They need to learn for themselves what goes into making a sale and keeping customers satisfied.

Next time, we will examine 4 other brand killers – the common administrative and production views of Proliferation, Competition, Change, and Compensation.







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Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at

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