Many start-ups and emerging businesses set out with the intention to build a timeless brand, but do they achieve that? Not always. This is often due to avoidable common branding mistakes. Some think the brand ideation process will go well even if they skip researching their prospective buyers, competitors, and other determining factors in the market.
For you to build a lasting brand, you must invest your time and thoughts, to research, brainstorm, and knit your findings into a well-articulated value proposition and other core components of a solid brand.
What branding really is
Looking to get your branding right? The best place to start is to get an in-depth understanding of what branding is. Many people think of branding as hiring a graphics artist to design a logo or selecting colors, and typefaces.
Well, eventually, these things need to be done but they are to branding; what flowers are to trees. And while flowers are beautiful and attractive to humans and butterflies, it is roots that keep a tree on its ‘feet’. Similarly, branding, if done the right way, forms the roots of any business— invisible but nourishing and keeping the brand luxuriant for its lifetime.
Branding is the collective term for the promise(s) you make to your targets that are to be fulfilled via your products/services. This promise, together with the actual experience your targets get when they buy what you offer, is what shapes an image of your brand in the minds of your customers.. A brand encapsulates your connection and relationship with your buyers, public perception (reputation), and what sets you apart from your industry’s competition.
It is important to emphasize that branding goes beyond the logo designs, selection of fonts, colors, or even building a website. When the core work of branding is well done, product sales, audience engagement, and reputation maintenance are easier. This is why care must be taken to avoid the common branding mistakes discussed below.
7 common branding mistakes to avoid at all cost
Wondering how top brands are able to achieve a harmonized positive perception and reputation? Well, of course, they invest in brand awareness and next-generation brand growth services, but most importantly, they were careful to avoid the common branding mistakes listed below:
1. Attempt to appeal to all
Many ignorantly think that the bigger their audience, the better. Hence, they try to sell to everyone. While aiming for inclusivity, choose a target whose needs you can meet. This is what the best brands do.
2. No brand guidelines to run with
Brand guidelines outline the acceptable and unacceptable use/application of brand assets like logo, colors, icons, etc. It is what guides content creators, merch makers, designers, and photographers to ensure uniformity. Some brands consider this an ad-on and the lack of it often leads to inconsistencies (in the voice/tone, fonts, and logo application) for their brand.
3. Faulty or deceitful brand ideation
Imagine a brand ideation founded on trends popularized by some social media influencer. What happens when everyone stops talking about such trends? Think about the current ‘craze’ for eco-friendly products/services. Some brands claim to produce environmentally sustainable products when in reality it is a sham. Such an approach is called greenwashing and it is deceitful and counterproductive.
4. Cultural insensitivity
Insensitivity to the peculiar culture in the location where your business will be, can create a negative perception of your brand. While most brands aim to go global or cover wide geographical areas, it is important that the cultural uniqueness of every place is factored into the brand values.
5. Shifting focus from customers with time
A common mistake some brands make is paying much attention to products at the expense of their customers. Do you know products should be refined based on feedback from your audience, not just based on an imagined need? Target specific pain points and respond to them. At every point, remember that your brand is an ongoing conversation between you and your targets.
6. No defined reputation management
Reputation management structures are often not in place until there is an emergency. True, no food company plans that a day should come when a customer would find a bug in their bottle of peanut butter. But we have seen this happen again and again. Prepare for situations like this, create a structure to pacify aggrieved customers whether on social media or even in a courtroom— some customers can press charges.
7. Losing sight of the ‘why’ in the event of rebranding
It can be easy to forget the ‘why’ when refurbishing a brand to sound and feel modern and contemporary. Don’t lose sight of the purpose and promise you first made to your loyal customers as you refurbish. Whether a brand does so, deliberately or by mistake, a fraction of its audience may be lost and brand growth stunted.