It breaks my heart to witness a great business or career fade out, become irrelevant, and eventually die because I know how much it means to the person that owns it. I’ve known brilliant humans and successful businesses that have fallen victim to the economy, downsizing, or lack of funding. But there is ONE that seems to win the trophy for greatest common denominator of failure: bad branding.

It’s not just me. You’ve seen it happen, right? A business, event or professional that used to be the “top pick” – everyone knew their name and wanted to do business with them. They had earned a shiny reputation that seemed like a lightning rod for success. People were loyal to them. They even reached a point where they could rely on referrals alone. It seemed like enough.

And then…BOOM.

Something changed. They started to fade out. They kept their great reputation, it was just that when potential referrals or employers searching for them online couldn’t visually see it or verify it, they clicked “next”. Why wouldn’t they? The internet had basically become a “swipe-right/swipe left” online superstore of businesses and candidates, and they were no longer standing out. They were drowning in a “sea of sameness”.

The good news is that they could be saved.

If you take anything away from this article it should be this: branding isn’t just an investment these days, it can actually be your insurance policy. Already drowning? It can be your life raft

But let’s also be real. It can feel overwhelming, even to those of us who specialize in it (I may even rename myself “The TSK”, a.k.a. “the shoemaker's kid”). If branding your business, event, or your career profile feels daunting, it makes sense. After all, it’s only your life and career you’re messing with AND there are risks to doing it poorly.

Bad branding can undermine everything else you are doing to be successful. A $50 logo can cost a business thousands of dollars. A profile or resume that doesn’t stand out and sell can cost someone their dream job.

What is bad branding? It’s one or a combination of: no branding at all, using trendy tactics that make you look like everyone else, ignoring the importance of having an online presence, not updating profiles/websites, forcing people to navigate through an Iliad of content just to understand you, and finally: not visually and verbally telling a story that promotes WHY people should choose you. Just to name a few.

Conversely, good branding is boldly standing out and creating a buzz that inspires people to engage and be loyal. It’s being an innovative storyteller, and engaging visual designer, and a consistent promoter. It’s not easy. As a matter of fact, unless you have a full marketing department, it is near impossible to invest the time needed to identify (and then manage) multiple vendors and keep them on the same page to produce a consistent look, feel, and message.

At Boldly-Branded, the big agency production feel isn’t our jam. We’ve probably stood in your shoes, and we don’t believe branding should steal your soul, time, or wallet. Instead, we partner with our clients like we would want to be partnered with (we even talk with them in person!) to make branding a fun and creative process that strategically ignites their message on fire – and we LOVE watching it happen.

So, whether you become a DIY brand designer or hire someone (pick us!) – just make sure you grab your life raft. You didn’t work this hard to not be noticed.

Want to chat about your brand? Click HERE to get started!

Written by Tamara Gardner for SMarketing Connect August 2019

Tamara Gardner owns Boldly-Branded ( and is a published author and professional speaker working and residing on the South Shore in Massachusetts. In addition, she is the founder of Be Boldacious, a brand and online community geared towards motivating women and teen girls to confidently embrace who they are and release themselves from the pressure of what they “should” be.

Personally, Tamara is known to be a cross between Brene’ Brown, Olivia Pope, and “TinAmy FeyPoehler” but deep down actually relates more to most Melissa McCarthy characters. She is obsessed with NFL football, competitive lawn sports, and would likely become an agoraphobic mute on if she lost her hearing because music gives her life. Her biggest champion and grounding wire is her husband Jim, who she loves going home to every day in Braintree where they met “15 years or so” ago in high school.

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