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7 Stupid Branding Mistakes You’re Making: Small Business Branding

When you think about great branding, Coca Cola’s distinctive red and white lettering, Nike’s swoosh and Adidas’s three stripes likely come to mind. But as a small business, imagining the level of investment that’s gone into these iconic images can make the thought of undertaking your own small business branding initiative seem overwhelming.

It’s actually easier to do than most imagine. Just make sure to avoid some common pitfalls and small business branding mistakes.

1. Not understanding the power of a brand. From a customer-relationship perspective, having a strong brand is obviously advantageous. For instance, when people think of online shoe purchases, they think of Zappos. You want to have that kind of immediate, definitive relationship with your buyers as well.

Defining your brand is also valuable from an SEO perspective. More clicks tends to equal happier customers, and Google will reward you with more website traffic and awareness benefits.

2. Forgetting to establish defined brand guidelines. What exactly does that mean? When creating a brand identity, you’ll want to establish defined guidelines that cover all of the following elements (as well as any others that are relevant to your field). Here are a few points to consider.

  • Logo (both an overarching logo and any logo lockups your company uses for individual product lines)
  • Brand colors
  • Taglines
  • Fonts and typography
  • The “voice” used in your branded materials
  • Imagery
  • Mascots and spokespeople

Without these, your branding efforts will lack the consistency and direction needed for success.
3. Overcomplicating your brand. Take a look at how Coca Cola’s classic script logo has changed since its first usage in 1887. While the fonts used have varied slightly, the original look is still largely intact after more than 127 years of service. Your logo doesn’t need to involve six different colors. Clean, simple elements are more likely to be recognized and remembered by consumers.

4. Falling into the vague small business branding trap. But then again, don’t go the opposite direction and develop brand guidelines and elements that reveal nothing about your company and its value proposition. For example “best-selling” books, “championship” golf courses and “award-winning” ad agencies really don’t mean anything.

What you want is clear language, logos and imagery. Have your company’s logo mimic the product in a way that’s unmistakable.
5. “Cheating” on your brand guidelines. Changing a few colors outside of the palette you specified out in your small business branding documentation introduces a “new” brand to your consumers, making it much more difficult for them to remember your brand.

6. Not policing your brand’s usage. You must be proactive about monitoring where and how others are using your branded elements on your behalf. If not, you could have competitors creating a logo that looks similar, such as a review website featuring your logo in the wrong colors. Some of these issues may be minor, but in other situations, it may be necessary to pursue legal action if you feel your branded elements are being infringed upon.

7. Rolling out brand changes poorly. There’s nothing wrong with rebranding. That is, unless you approach it poorly. Bear in mind any changes you make to your established brand reduces the connection you’ve built with your customers. Therefore, it’s important to only make changes when the benefits truly outweigh the risks of losing business. If you do decide to make an alteration, you need to clearly educate your followers on the changes you’re making.

While branding is certainly a marketing discipline in its own right, it doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Good intentions — and avoidance of the mistakes described above — will go a long way towards helping your small business branding form vital connections with your target customers.

(Source: Entrepreneur Network)

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