These 4 Branding Mistakes Can Sink Your Business (And How to Avoid Them)Editorial Team
By Shayne Tilley, Head of Marketing at 99designs by Vistaprint.
A brand is a multi-faceted thing – and every business has one, whether you like it or not. It includes everything from the look and feel of your business to how your customers feel about you.
Done well, your branding can help you stand out from the crowd, shape your reputation, and win loyal customers. But bad branding can have the opposite effect and create long-lasting damage.
Branding mishaps can be hard to bounce back from, so knowing what to look out for is crucial. Here are four of the most common mistakes to avoid when building your brand.
Mistake 1: Having No Strategy
It can be tempting to dive straight into the visual representation part of the branding process. After all, seeing your business come to life for the first time is exciting! However, there’s some vital work on the back end that needs to happen first. To ensure you are putting your best foot forward as a business you need a solid brand strategy.
This strategy should define who you are as a company, what makes you different, what you stand for and why you exist. It should also outline who your ideal customers are and what they value too. Understanding these attributes of your business will enable you to make informed and consistent decisions on all the visual elements of your brand such as colors, fonts, and tone of voice, wherever they may be used.
Unless you are completely clear on who you are, your branding can end up feeling scattered and unprofessional.
Mistake 2: Being Inconsistent
This is another branding mistake, commonly made by many small business owners. Consistency in branding is vital for keeping your brand both recognizable and reliable. You can have the best-looking logo, website, social media, or packaging in the business – but if your design is not cohesive across all these different touchpoints, you’re likely to leave your audience confused and even wary of trusting you.
Spend time establishing a set of guidelines that clearly identifies and lays out all the finer details of your brand that you can use to ensure your customers have the same experience, wherever they may encounter you. Consider all your brand is, says, does, and thinks – from your fonts, colors, and imagery right through to the tone of marketing materials or customer service emails.
These might seem like small details but they have a huge impact on your customers’ overall perception of your brand. So, the more consistent you can be, the more trustworthy you’ll be to them.
Mistake 3: Not Being Flexible
A mistake businesses often make with branding is operating a ‘one and done’ approach. But being flexible is just as important as being consistent. Just because you have a great brand now, doesn’t mean that in five years’ time it’s still going to be relevant to your needs. Your brand should be treated as a living, breathing entity that has room to grow alongside your business and if something isn’t working, be willing to change it.
Maybe you have expanded your team, evolved your offering or your target demographic has changed. Or perhaps your visual brand is just starting to feel a bit outdated. This isn’t to say you should completely rebrand every time you launch a new product, but it pays to be constantly (yet gently) critical of your brand over time to ensure it continues to accurately reflect who you are as a business.
You also never know how your brand is truly going to perform until it’s out in the wild. So it’s OK to keep tweaking things until you’re happy with it.
Mistake 4: Being Inauthentic
There’s an ongoing societal shift that has seen consumers increasingly demand honesty and transparency from the brands they interact and spend with. This means they are more attuned to the authenticity of a brand than ever before.
Your values and mission statement should sit right at the core of your brand – this is what you stand for and why you exist. It’s one thing to know and say these values, and another thing entirely to deliver on them.
A brand is as a brand does, so if you’re not walking the walk as well as talking the talk, it won’t be long before customers realize. This can shatter their trust in your business and once lost, that trust is really hard to regain. Luckily there is an easy way to avoid these branding mistakes by consistently living up to your values and following through on your promises.
While these branding mistakes are common, they are also easily avoidable. Putting in an effort at the very beginning will pay dividends in the long run for the success of your business. However, that’s not where the work stops. Branding is the active practice of bringing your brand to life, and the journey should be as long as the life of your business.
Shayne Tilley is Head of Marketing at 99designs by Vistaprint, the global creative platform that makes it easy for designers and clients to work together to create designs they love. He is a wrangler of collaboration, diversity, and creativity who helps bring more opportunities to people all around the world. For more information please visit 99designs.com.
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