Why Most Brands Fail Before They Even Begin


We’ve all seen a brand that just doesn’t get it right. They’re racist, sexist, all over the place and/or messy.

The #1 reason most brands fail is their lack of research. This may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things but think about it.

Research provides the context for your content.

Research tells you how, where and when to do things. It’s insight into your target audience’s buyer behavior, likes, thoughts and interests. It also supports data and calculated risks.

It’s the first building block in marketing/branding AND in business. Without research, you’re likely to confuse and misrepresent your target audience, oversell your products and lose sales.

Let’s take Shea Moisture for example. A few years ago black women were upset when Shea Moisture included white women in their #HairHate commercial series. You may be wondering why are black women upset? Well, the popular natural hair brand branded themselves as an ambassador and advocate for natural hair black women but when their #HairHate commercials were released, darker black women and kinkier hair textures were excluded from the introductory video. An obvious no-no for their target audience. The ad was later pulled but some women held firm in boycotting.

A little research would’ve saved Shea Moisture.

Remember research provides the context for your content. Let’s break down the context.

Shea Moisture’s target audience is black women with natural hair. In fact, almost all of their influencers and ambassadors are black women of all shades and curl patterns.

What do we know about black women? They take their hair and hair products seriously.
What do we know about Shea Moisture? They, at the time, had 0 white ambassadors. White women wouldn’t connect with their target audience.

A conversation about #HairHate has to include people with hair that society hates or deems inappropriate. That’s literally what #HairHate is.

What do we know about #HairHate? Kinkier textures and patterns are criticized the most, especially on darker skin women.
What do we know about Shea Moisture’s commercial? It excluded darker skin women and kinkier textures BUT included white women with straight or wavy hair.

When the commercial series was released, black buying power began shifting to black-owned, minority-run businesses. Black women, particularly, were looking for black-owned natural hair products easily found in local markets.

What do we know about the time period when the commercial series was released? Black women wanted black-owned natural hair products that worked for all textures.
What do we know about Shea Moisture and their commercial? They provided a solution to the problem many black women were facing BUT that wasn’t reflected in their commercial.

Shea Moisture confused their target audience who is also their largest buyer-sales group. From research, we found they had 0 white women ambassadors yet included them in their video about #HairHate which also contradicts the conversation around #HairHate because society doesn’t hate white women and their hair.

It can be difficult to see how research alone could’ve prevented this specific fiasco but think bigger. Neglecting research is just lazy.

If you’re having trouble getting started with your brand research or need audience insight, schedule a free 30-min consultation with Miocoa Strategies!

Jasmine Gibson