Marketing evolves quickly, and takes a lot of turns as people, companies, consultants and agencies try this tactic and that, testing to see what works. Innovations are frequent and while some might survive the test of time, most won’t. That’s probably because not everything that impacts consumer decisions and purchasing behavior is under the brand’s own control.

Consumers are faced with more advertising and promotions today than ever before, and the large social media platforms and ad platforms, such as Facebook, Google and YouTube, to name just a few, are so cluttered it’s hard to get through. That’s why the bigger players with the deeper pockets, and the ‘famous’ who have massive fan followings typically succeed where most fail.

So, what to do when your brand isn’t world famous, or you are but have larger, better entrenched competitors? What to do?

Here’s where most brand make their first set of mistakes. Trying to stand out, brands resort to being clever, creating catchy taglines and slogans, visually disruptive ads, socially disruptive messages — all in the name of trying to be seen and getting some new attention through the cloud of competition.

But being true to what your brand stands for, who it really serves, and what solutions it offers is really the only sustainable way to gain and keep market share. If a brand has real value to a defined audience and conveys that message loudly, clearly and consistently, the brand wins. If a brand changes its logo and slogan and ad headlines and messages every other Thursday, what does that say about who the brand is?

Branding is not guesswork. It’s not a design challenge, or a copywriting challenge. There is a very well defined, deeply proven path to developing and messaging a powerful brand.

Consumers can be very loyal; that’s one reason brands spend so much money trying to acquire the right ones. But consumers can also be easily taken away from your brand if they aren’t absolutely convinced that your brand is the only one that can fulfill what they really need, and that other competitors just can’t do it for them like your brand can.

When you start to think that branding is marketing, or that branding is your brand, you’re already way down the rabbit hole. Becoming a market leader in any niche is already hard enough, but if you apply the science of positioning properly, it’s really not that hard to do, and you CAN displace competitors. And in the final analysis, it all boils down to this: who gets the customer, your brand or a competitor? The decision is made by how you position your brand.

I’ve seen so many times over the past 30 years where a company’s branding efforts become their competitors’ best friend. You must control your brand AND your branding or someone else will take it away from you. Pro Tip: they’re already working on it, don’t help them eat your lunch.

Don’t let your branding kill your brand.