I just posted this in GovLoop.com - see what you think:
1. Lack of understanding about what branding is - misconception that it's just a logo or seal when in fact it's about rallying employees and the public around your clear, compelling MISSION or identity
2. Fighting within the agency about who is going to get the spotlight - the sense that if the agency overall has a brand, then my particular subgroup will not get recognized for its work
3. Related to #2, lack of understanding of brand architecture - that a brand can be organized to accommodate various sub-brands without compromising the overall identity. The tendency is to think in extremes - either there is one brand overlord at HQ who won't let anyone else have their own identity, or there is a completely decentralized system where any logo goes.
4. Chain of command thinking - failure to see that a brand is only as good as the people who support it. You can't tell employees what to do and how to feel. You can only educate, motivate, and inspire them to be passionate advocates for your agency and its brand. And that is accomplished by letting them have a say in things. It's not necessarily that they tell you what the strategic messages should be, but that they are free to discuss internally and provide feedback on their experiences with stakeholders and the brand - and that informs you about how the brand is shaped. This means the agency is sensitive to emotional intelligence type issues and preferably has an organizational development expert on staff who can help to nurture this environment.
5. Lack of coordination within the agency around developing and deploying the brand. Basically, the brand is everybody's business, not just public affairs', and not just the "soft departments" like public affairs, HR, training, etc. It must be a coordinated effort between the operational (frontline) offices, mission support, and especially the office of information technology.
6. Lack of objective thinking/metrics around the brand. By this I mean the tendency to think impressionistically or anecdotally about it rather than taking a fact/research-based approach. How do people perceive the agency and how should they perceive it? Do citizens know where to go to get what they need? Do we have any kind of numbers to support these conclusions? These are the kinds of things that senior leadership needs to see to support a brand initiative.