Opinion

Beware consistent errors made by Apprentice candidates when building a brand

4 min read

13 December 2017

Director

A massive part of building a business is building a brand and a culture – think Starbucks, Nike and Cadbury.

Week ten of The Apprentice saw the teams building a brand to battle it out as fashion agents.

Team Graphene was pushing men’s designer Zaramia Ava and Team Vitality was representing high-end women’s designer Helen Woollams… Or should I say “Hellavagirl”?

Team Vitality were doomed from the start – with Sarah failing to recognise she would be best placed as PM due to her experience in negotiating with suppliers, together with Jade’s choice of the high-end fashion line.

Let’s face it, cheaper mass market items with higher commission and bulk discount, will always win over higher end products with a selective target audience and lower commission.

With the debate on whether Jade deserved to be fired aside (she definitely should have made the final five), Karren quickly picked up on Team Vitality’s major downfall, commenting on it throughout the task – this being a consistent error for both teams throughout the entire process, and particularly during the latter few weeks. That’s right, I’m talking about building a brand.

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From a business, a brand is born

A massive part of building a business is building a brand and a culture. Think Starbucks, Nike and Cadbury – massive brands that are instantly recognisable by consumers. However, they certainly didn’t start this way, first came the business idea and then came building the brand.

This is ultimately where Team Vitality fell down this week – Helen Woollams may be the brains behind her line and her business, but she certainly isn’t the brand itself.

When consumers or retailers purchase lines from “Hellavagirl”, they look for the designer dress or coat that is representative of the brand, not of Helen Woollams. 

With a brand comes values

The robot task and last week’s food task shared similar branding issues. From a clear inconsistency between the product (Jeffrii) and branding (Siimon) in the robot task, to failure in aligning brand values (Gourmet Crusaders) with the product itself in last week’s food task.

Ultimately, if you’re building a brand with particular values, your product or service should deliver on them too.

For example, Marks and Spencers is conventionally perceived as a more ‘upmarket’ quality brand, which is clearly represented in their produce and their price point – demonstrated particularly well in their food lines.

Branding leads to marketing

Branding and marketing come hand in hand – where knowing what your brand represents and who your target audience is forms the basis of your marketing strategy.

I am in no doubt each and every candidate on this year’s The Apprentice understands this, but it still seems to be an issue week in and week out. 

Why? I think the major problem stems from the fact the PM and sub-team have been divided when working on building a brand and marketing – suggesting tight timeframes and little communication are probably more to blame here, than a lack of competence.

What will be interesting, however, is how the candidates create and utilise branding in the final – as, ultimately, this is a significant part of the task, the pitch and business presentation. 

Watch this space…

Mark Wright is director of Climb Online and winner of The Apprentice 2014 – he’ll be back next week with lessons of the latest episode

Image source: BBC