9 Crucial Branding Mistakes to Avoid

Start-ups and small businesses are often too caught up in the technicalities of the business—customer acquisition, sales, overhead costs, product quality, the list goes on....

John Berida
John Berida October 7, 2019

Start-ups and small businesses are often too caught up in the technicalities of the business—customer acquisition, sales, overhead costs, product quality, the list goes on. Branding, among other equally important things like digital marketing, is often put on the back burner. 

Without a proper branding strategy, businesses risk selling and marketing products without a clear vision of who they are. The quality of they communicate to consumers will also be compromised, and create ripple effects on brand recognition, customer experience & loyalty, and profitability. The same goes for established companies. Straying from the brand could cost millions in lost sales.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for decades, here are crucial branding mistakes you should avoid:  

1. Not Having Brand Guidelines

A survey performed by LucidPress (in partnership with Demand Metric) revealed that organizations with consistent branding experience three to four times better visibility than those that are inconsistent. Among the study’s 200 participants, 71 percent agreed that the creation of confusion in the market is the biggest negative impact of brand inconsistency.

A company that lacks brand guidelines is bound to appear inconsistent. In turn, this presents your company as unprofessional and untrustworthy. So if you don’t have brand guidelines, make sure to develop them immediately. Make sure to cover the following areas:

  • How, when, and where to use the logo
  • Tone, voice, and writing style
  • Color schemes
  • Visuals and imagery
  • Fonts and typography

Brand guidelines make it easier for you to coordinate your content assets across every platform your company is represented, such as your website, social media pages, ads, and more. With a style guide, you can guarantee that your messaging is cohesive and consistent across all channels and communications. It also allows you to reinforce your brand identity and credibility. 

2. Underestimating the Importance of a Logo

The logo is the face of the company. It’s the most recognizable feature of your brand. If you don’t do it properly in the beginning, changing it in the future may become a problem, especially when you haven’t fully established your presence in the market yet. 

It’s also important to stick to a logo when your brand has already laid down its roots. In 2010, American clothing retailer giant Gap committed this mistake when they launched their newly designed logo, which received backlash. As the saying goes, “why fix something that isn’t broken?”

Understand that a great logo is immediately recognizable but creates a lasting impression. It’s synonymous with the brand itself and a glimpse of the brand’s identity.

3. Using Vague or Inaccurate Copy

Unclear or over-the-top copywriting is a common mistake many brands make. All too often, companies publish copies that don’t always offer an accurate description of who they are. Some would resort to buzzwords, jargon, and generic content as opposed to personalizing content to their audience. 

Good copywriting is clear and concise with the purpose of pitching and selling the brand. Catching the attention of your audience is the goal, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to compromise authenticity and originality. So don’t use words like “innovative” or ”one-of-a-kind” in your copy if you know that this isn’t true. 

Evaluate your brand and look for features or benefits that make you distinct from competitors. Read our ultimate roundup online copywriting tips to know more about executing this properly.

4. Not Proofreading Before Publishing Content

When you’ve become too familiar with your work, there’s a tendency to overlook errors. These can be minor spelling mistakes or offensive content that tarnish your brand reputation. But whatever it is, not reviewing your content before publishing is a mistake you need to avoid.

Proofreading is essential in writing. Although you can use spell checkers, they do have limitations. Having a copy editor on board is still the best practice since he or she can make sure the grammar is flawless and your brand guidelines are followed to the letter. As for language, never use profanity or over-the-top humor unless it’s aligned with your brand identity. 

It’s challenging to grab people’s attention nowadays, but you still want your brand to be noticed for the right reasons. 

5. Jumping on the Bandwagon for the Sake of Relevance

Living in a time of constant consumption can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon. Unlike fashion, music, and other pop culture trends, updating your branding according to the times may not always be wise. The green movement is a case in point. To attract a growing population of eco-conscious consumers, many companies rushed into calibrating their vision and messaging to appear “greener” without making their products environmentally sound. This deceitful PR tactic was later called “greenwashing,” which led to the downfall of many companies. 

When it comes to branding, it’s crucial to stay updated with design trends to look fresh and relevant. But understand that trends come and go. Never lose sight of what makes you stand out from the rest. It’s often better to stick to your brand and focus on overwhelming your customers with value, instead. 

6. Neglecting Customer Experience

Know that logo designs or ad campaigns are important, but how your audience reacts to them is just as crucial. Branding is all about creating the right image of your product. But knowing how your customers feel about should also be a big consideration. 

Enhancing the focus on customer experience also requires resolving customer service issues promptly. Implement a system that can prioritize the customers first, like responding to emails within 24 hours or having a live chat feature on your website.

7. Disengaging from the Community

There are businesses that are made solely for the local community. But the world is more connected now and accepting of diversity. Because of this, the last thing you want is to be labeled as ignorant. It’s a long-standing fact that businesses that are rooted in the local community stand the test of time. For this reason, even global brands or franchises make sure to blend in and have a regional strategy in place. Another way to be “local” and part of the community is to welcome people of myriad backgrounds.

But don’t get overwhelmed, these simple steps can help you achieve this:

  • Use language everyone can understand
  • Practice cultural sensitivity 
  • Invest in translation services
  • Provide ramps, courtesy lanes, or other special amenities for pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities 
  • Be inclusive and respect feedback from all
  • Sponsor local events related to your business or donate to local charities 
  • Partner with local media and influencers

8. Not Having a Crisis Management Plan

In 2013, grocery chain Tesco suffered a huge PR hit when it was accused of having a supplier that shipped them horse meat but was being sold as beef in their stores. To add fuel to the fire, the brand left a poorly timed tweet after the event, which wasn’t even brought down immediately. In fact, the post is still up today. 

This was received as a distasteful joke that attempts to make the situation lighter. But according to Tesco, it was a scheduled tweet written before the allegations came out. The company apologized but the damage was already done. 

No business is completely safe from PR and branding mishaps. When your brand commits a blunder similar to what happened to Tesco, you wouldn’t want to take that lightly. Crises like this can negatively affect your brand in the long run. 

Though there are ways to manage and minimize the damage of such an event, addressing the issue head-on is always better than evading it. Own up to mistakes and show some empathy instead of compromising your credibility. 

9. Forgetting What Works for Your Brand while Expanding

Most businesses have one common goal, and that is to expand. But to make sure this happens smoothly and according to plan, you must first maintain a healthy relationship with a loyal audience. And this involves staying true to your brand. People have a natural tendency to hate change, and if you take on a new one without guiding your customers through it, they may no longer be part of your journey to expansion. Growing businesses tend to focus more on profit and lose sight of quality. As a result, they lose customers who have stuck with them for the longest time. If you decide to pull the plug on your old brand, make sure to keep the things that made it work. 

Keeping a positive, consistent, and effective brand is not an easy feat. Big businesses would spend millions on reinforcing their brand alone. But if you’re a start-up or small business, there are simple ways to make sure your identity and messaging are on point. It can be as easy as avoiding these branding mistakes. 

Having trouble creating a strong brand? Speak to a CMO at Growth Rocket and get results fast.

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