Brand Confusion: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

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Branding
Elephant in the circus representing addressing the elephant in the room: brand confusion.

November 21, 2022

byAnkit Vora

Brand confusion is a BIG problem. 

Even though consumers have access to wealth of information, they confuse one brand for another.

Some confuse Delta Faucets for Delta Airlines. 

Some Dove Beauty for Dove Chocolate. 

There’s another – Domino Sugar for Domino’s Pizza.

You may think – “What’s this guy saying? Does that even happen?”

Trust me; it’s a lot more common than you may think.

It happens all the time.

We realized it when we made the same mistake.

Yes – we have made mistakes in the past and learned a lot from them.

WE MADE A MISTAKE THAT CONFUSED OUR PROSPECTS!

In the early days, when redfox visual was a three-person agency, we made a BIG mistake. 

We didn’t know how harmful brand confusion was.

We marketed ourselves as “redfox” without the “visual” in it – even though our brand’s name has always been “redfox visual.”

Our customers would usually refer to us like:

“Hey, there’s a marketing agency in Boise that delivers great results. They helped me generate demand for my local business and increase my conversions. Their name is redfox. You should definitely check them out.”

When you look up ‘redfox’ on Google, you’ll see the following results:

Google search result for the search query "redfox" not showing redfox visual

If you look up a term like “redfox company,” here are the results you’d get:Google results for the search query "redfox company" not showing redfox visual

If you click through the first result, you’ll hop onto Redfox Technology’s website:

redfox technology website homepage

If you click on the second result, you’ll land on Redfox Security’s website:

screenshot of redfox security's website

Then there’s Redfox Outdoor Equipment, Redfox Games, and many other companies that start with “redfox.”

When our customers used to refer us to their friends and family members as “Hey! Check out redfox. They’re great,” we used to lose a lot of customers. We can’t even track how many customers we lost. 

While we lost a lot of customers that way, we realized that not ranking at the top for the terms “redfox” and “redfox company” was a good thing for us.

Why?

That’s because we don’t want junk traffic landing on our website.

Now, you may think – “You guys are crazy!”

Why wouldn’t we want to rank for the term “redfox” or “redfox company?”

The thing is, if we rank on the first page for these terms, we’d be attracting too much junk traffic to our website. 

Imagine this – 

Let’s say we’re ranking #1 for the term.

Now, suppose a customer is looking to purchase from Redfox Security. In that case, there are chances they will look up the term “redfox” or “redfox company” on Google (if they don’t visit Redfox Security’s website using their URL). 

Now, if we’re ranking #1 for the term, there are high chances they will head over to our website – and they are not even our target audience. Remember, this guy is looking to purchase from redfox security and isn’t interested in our services. But despite that, they still land on our website.

When most marketers attract thousands of people to their website, they’re super excited!

But what if most of this traffic is junk AND increases our website’s bounce rate (which, according to Google’s RankBrain technology, isn’t a great ranking signal)?

What if, out of 1,000 weekly traffic we generated, 970 were Redfox Security’s customers yet landed on our website just because we were ranking #1 for the term “redfox” or “redfox company?”

Ladies and gentlemen! That’s what brand confusion is.

And that’s the reason we go by the name “redfox visual.”

Every channel we are on and every asset we create – we are now consistent in our branding.    

Our Google Business Profile:

redfox visual on Google

Our Instagram Page:

redfox visual consistent branding on instagram

How we mention ourselves in our blog posts:

consistent branding and company name across redfox visual's blog posts

Offline marketing assets – 

Photo of three redfox employees holding a redfox visual branded posterboard

You get the point, right?

And did we tell you?  Brand confusion is dangerous.

What if a consumer had a bad experience with a brand twin with identical or almost similar, tweeted about it and that tweet went viral? 

The tweet looks something like this:

“Had a terrible experience with redfox. These guys are a scam. The issue is – {Consumer stating his horrific experience with a brand using Redfox in their name}. Retweet as much as you can.”

Haters will look up redfox on social media and drop a lot of hate comments on your posts or send hateful messages.

And as a brand, we can’t let this happen. It’s our responsibility to resolve these issues before they start affecting our brand. You need to protect your brand – so you need to have a person in charge of this – you can ask them to look out for any hateful comments or tweets on social media and address them as soon as possible.  

This person will be in charge of protecting your brand – not only will he resolve brand confusion issues but also actively look for hate mentions about your brand and smartly address them. 

Here’s an example of Grammarly immediately responding to a customer’s bad experience:

grammarly customer complaint

Also, they should be able to consider what people are talking about your brand on social media, acknowledge it, and respond to them – which will also make them feel valued.

Here’s an example of Slack responding to customer feedback:

slack implementing and responding to customer feedback

We believe – brands should start doing this more often. 

But there’s more to brand confusion than this.

We tapped into our community to better understand how big of a problem brand confusion is.

brand confusion damage,brand confusion examples

And WE RECEIVED A LOT OF RESPONSES from experts all across the world.

Allow us to share their input.

This happens a lot with Mio. Online, we get tagged in loads of posts for an estate agency. Both Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve even seen someone tag us as the employer on a LinkedIn job. The only way to contact them was to apply for the job and replace a CV with a Word document explaining they’d made a mistake.

It also happened in person at a Slack conference. I was wearing my Mio t-shirt, and someone tapped my shoulder and said, “My wife is obsessed with your product”. When I asked which platform she uses Mio with, the guy gave me a weird look.

He meant these folks…

miosport electrolyte example of brand confusion

I work at Postmark (email delivery service) which often gets confused with Poshmark (fashion & decor eCommerce). Not exactly brand twins, one letter away from each other, but still quite funny when folks email us looking for updates about their most recent shoe purchase… and we obviously have no idea about it!”

“I used to work at a company called Everlance (a tech company), and we often got customer calls/mistaken requests related to the totally-unrelated clothing company Everlane –  just the spelling was similar!”

“In the competitive intelligence space, there is Crayon, but it is not Crayon.com which looks like it could be them. They are Crayon.co, and I initially ended up in a weird discussion because of it.”

“This reminds me of when I interned with CarMax HQ and had to do some social audit stuff, and people would always confuse it with Carmex, the lip balm.”

There’s More to Brand Confusion Than A Name!

Brand confusion directly ties in with brand inconsistency. 

Now, what is brand inconsistency?

Allow us to explain.

When your branding efforts are not consistent – from the tone of your voice on social media to the style of blog posts to color choices, then that will confuse your customers.

As you may already know – McDonald’s official colors are black, yellow, and red. 

But what if one of their new outlets doesn’t stick to their official color palette and uses blue + black instead? Their customers may think – it’s not McDonald’s. 

OR!

What if a brand presents itself differently across different social media platforms? 

OR!

Worse – what if you have a different mission or brand statement across other channels? 

During my research, I came across Social Media Today’s article titled “The Negative Impact of Inconsistent Branding,” and here are the most common inconsistency scenarios they mentioned:

Information listed on brand inconsistency

Brand inconsistency leads to confusion.

The tiniest mistakes can confuse your audience. It’ll make them wonder – “This brand doesn’t know what they want or what they’re doing. How can I trust them?”

These days, people want to build long-lasting and healthy relationships with brands.

Inconsistency branding efforts can seriously impact your reputation. Content creators have their own style and voice. And if you don’t have a style guide or brand guide in place, they’ll create content that matches their style and voice. 

Different people produce content in different styles and voices. That’s a HUGE mistake a brand can make. 

You won’t see the impact overnight.

But it’ll start to build up. 

And soon, you’ll find that your brand has no true image. 

It’s dangerous.

At redfox visual, we help businesses streamline their processes to make sure they are consistent with their branding efforts. We help them build a convincing unique selling proposition and develop a results-driven branding strategy for the best possible results. 

Here’s our approach:

screenshot from redfox visual's branding page on the website

Don’t let brand confusion destroy your brand reputation.

To avoid this problem, we highly recommend looking at what people are talking about your brand – whether it’s on Instagram or Twitter. 

If you’re doing it, do it right. 

And that’s what we’d like to help you with.

Read more about our branding services here

Our Services:

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