Building a strong brand that’s relevant, memorable and differentiated isn’t achievable through shortcuts.

There are many ways to build a strong brand, but there are also commonly accepted building blocks that result in a crumbling foundation. With several factors that go into brand building, it can be easy to fall victim to well-disguised traps that seem reliable. If a brand manages to be constructed in the midst of these traps, it will likely struggle to stand on its own while remaining relevant, memorable and differentiated in the mind of the customer.

Here are four common traps to avoid when brand building:

Trap #1: Start with the tactics
Campaigns are important, but without a clear strategy or definition of your brand, you are not going to gain traction in any one direction. You don’t build a house unless you’ve built the foundation first. The defining components of a strong brand – the brand platform and brand attributes – will define how to be differentiated, relevant and memorable. Your integrated marketing efforts will tell a cohesive brand story that’s compelling to your target audience because the strategy was built first. Don’t jump to the end before doing the necessary leg work to get there.

Trap #2: Go based on gut
Acting on impulse, emotions or despair will elicit an inconsistent brand presence. The same is true if you evaluate each piece of branding through your own lens of personal likes and dislikes. Engage in market research with your target audience as part of your brand building to uncover real insights. Involve leadership, employees and brand champions early and often. Talk with your customers as a “gut check.” Internal and external evaluation will keep you honest and objective.

Trap #3: Follow the competition
Keeping an eye on the industry and the competitors is a given, but hastily reacting based on others actions will create internal confusion, dismissive customers and a convoluted brand story. Evaluate the competition and the industry transparently to identify the market white space and build a story that meets customer needs in a distinct way. “Me-too” brands tend to be irrelevant and forgettable. There is nothing that the customer can hold onto. A singular brand story that combines the emotional and rational benefits will create repeat buyers and brand ambassadors.

Trap #4: Stick to what’s comfortable
As humans, we tend to stick to the path of least resistance. When it comes to brand building, lack of adaptation is just as detrimental as negative actions. Capitalize on calculated risks. You don’t need to invest in the newest media channel if it doesn’t make sense (and cents). But if the numbers provide room for opportunity, it may be worth investing in re-branding, cultural events, creative messaging or new media platforms to test new waters and spur growth.

Learn about JPL’s brand methodology.