No small degree of consumer research went into Taco Bell’s decision to roll out a line of breakfast menu items. Jumping into the fast food breakfast fracas last year, Taco Bell lobbed a spicy shot over the bows of more established competitors like McDonald’s, Sonic and Burger King.

So, yes, if you now so choose, you can order a Waffle Taco for breakfast. Or an A.M. Crunchwrap. Or even a Grande Scrambler Burrito.

The question is … should you? Or, more precisely, do you want to?

An easy mistake for a company to make is trying to be all things to all people. Rather than identifying a market niche (the thing you’re best at) and a target audience (the type of people you best serve) these misguided attempts try to be a little bit of something to everybody. The results are typically less than spectacular. Like salad flavored Jell-O, purple Ketchup and Coors water.

Taco Bell had a pretty good thing going in the minds of many consumers – cheap, fast, pseudo Mexican food. It was a mainstay of my college years (including way too many “make a run for the border” dormitory jokes). Grape flavored Jell-O, red Ketchup and Coors Beer were working just fine, too. Like those examples, jumping into the breakfast food arena is a potential blunder. Why try to be a breakfast food provider to a massive audience relatively happy with what you’ve already got?

Many banks and credit unions are similarly guilty of being Waffle Tacos. Instead of focusing on that which they do well (fast loan responses, great experiential service, branch network) and a target audience (young parents, factory workers, Gen Y), they water it all down. A little bit of products and service for this, a little bit of products and service for that … ads here, there and everywhere … until it’s all one big, confusing mess. No consumer will take time to sort that out and decide if you’re the best bet for their needs. Rather than try to make sense of your mishmash, they’ll happily head to the competitor that does appeal to their unique needs.

Focus and knowing who you serve best and how to reach them is the answer. Until learning that critical branding lesson, your bank or credit union is about as appealing as a Waffle Taco soaked in Crystal Pepsi.

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