January 15, 2017
8 Common Branding Mistakes Your Business Is Already Making
I work with many different types of businesses in a given year. Many patterns from the following list of common branding mistakes result in why a new or struggling business would seek my services.
By day, I work at Couple of Creatives to essentially "become" a temporary marketing department for many of our customers. In return, I figured I would share some insight into what mistakes that I see happen over and over. There are ways to improve your brand in which I'm happy to help. If you have a need for this please feel free to get in touch.
1. Lack of consistency
Brand consistency is one of the most overlooked branding mistakes in an emerging business. Little attention is given to the fact that the entire brand (this includes absolutely everything to do with your business) remains inconsistent.
Inconsistencies don't pertain only to the look and feel but also the experience your customers or users follow along with their journey when establishing a relationship with your brand.
Some examples may include but are certainly not limited to:
- The look and feel of your products
- The way you answer the phone or greet a customer
- Packaging for goods shipped to the end consumer
- The validation of an online order form
- The website a user identifies with
Businesses with this lack of consistency do things in a very "a la carté" style. If the need arises they find a solution but have zero guidelines to work with. The result of this is a mixed set of deliverables which actually hurt the brand in the end.
Inconsistency gets even harder when more people are added to the mix. Solving this problem entails creating a set of guidelines or a "branding framework" for employees to follow to provide a more consistent experience for your business.
2. No plans to scale
Having consistent branding is important but I don't know any business that isn't looking to scale. If you think you don't always need to be working on your own business development you may reconsider having a business to begin with.
Scaling a business needs to happen in the most organized way possible. Having branding follow suit is extremely necessary so there are no loopholes your customers have to jump through to find the solutions they need for the problems they have. Eliminate any guess work to increase sales. It's that simple, but unfortunately, easier said than done.
How do I scale?
Simple. Make a plan to scale. Designate some time to build internally. How might you do this? Make a timeline. Create short-term and long-term goals and perform frequent audits on your progress. These will keep you inspired, driven and also help you remain on track to consistently scale.
3. Avoiding change
Avoiding change is a business killer and another big branding mistake. If you don't have a business, you don't have a brand. Restricting change means you won't work with the marketplace nor your customers to offer things they really need.
Most brands get to where they are by offering something people identify with. It's what makes them pick their product off the shelf over others. You too can do this if you learn to adapt to change. This can be in many realms be it technology, seasonal items, age ranges, and much more.
Enter PayPal. When the concept of PayPal was introduced the market saw it as a sign of threat. The solution PayPal was solving was so new to some people that their brand became an enemy for a bit (at least for me). I remember in my teens I would want to buy music equipment off eBay. At that time PayPal was incredibly new to me and I was honestly afraid to use it. The day came where I caved and finally made use of the service. I put trust in the PayPal brand and I'm thankful I did. My experience was so positive that I still make use of it today.
PayPal saw a problem with accepting and receiving money online. They provided a solution which in time, became one of the most used platforms on the web for such a service. PayPal adapted and so can your brand. Don't avoid change but rather try to stay ahead of it.
4.Locking into one market
While it's true a brand can thrive in a very small market, this ultimately means there's only one leader that reigns supreme. As a result, those trying to sell inside the same market are left out which is why competition is so high in any form of business today.
You often see larger corporations either buy out smaller businesses to gain their market share or simply to eliminate competition. Sadly, It's acts such as this that ultimately kill small businesses.
The solution to this problem is to try and be as diverse as possible or at least expand on your specific brand's niche. You can open up a lot of doors if you experiment with ways to improve or alter whatever it is you offer. The key is to identify with your customers directly and assess what their needs and problems are. Once you figure this out you will then be able to cast light on areas to improve your business.
5. Leaving no room for experimentation
I think Einstein had it right with the following quote. Even since childhood, we are conducting "research" nearly every second of our lives.
"Play is the highest form of research" — Albert Einstein
Tinkering with new ideas, new experiences, and new forms of creativity allows us to truly empower our sense of purpose as humans. Experimenting with your brand is the only way to scale it. You will fail. It will be often. Just try to make it fast. Remember that no idea is a bad one. After some time, an idea will stand above the rest and from there you can begin testing to see if it's a good one.
6. Assuming customers will come to you
We all have this inclination to think if we follow in the footsteps of our mentors that we too will see their success. Unfortunately, what doesn't get advertised to the public is all the work that goes into attracting customers to their business.
Marketing a brand is no cheap venture. In fact, much of any profit a business receives is often put back into ad campaigns, store installations, sponsorships and so much more. The end hope is that these tactics, in time, will spread your brand's message and purpose. Unfortunately, even these tactics can fail if you don't have all of the pieces of the puzzle aligned.
As I noted prior, brand consistency is absolutely essential for this to work. You can never assume people will find you because frankly they just won't. Until you begin to share what you are doing, why you are doing it, why you are different, and why someone should buy from you will you begin to notice real results
7. Thinking you can buy your business with ads
Display Ads, Billboards, and sponsorships are ways to increase your brand's awareness rapidly. While these tactics are proven to work, your branding has to be on par before the results show. So many questions need to be answered at this point in business before you begin to market with ads. Make sure you have those answers to avoid any loss of potential customers.
8. Solving a problem no one needs an answer to
Okay, this one isn't really branding related because branding would come much later but I felt it was worth mentioning from one business owner to another.
Solving a problem that doesn't need solving is the biggest reason startups fail. You may have a great idea that you think is going to change the way people think. The problem with that theory is that no two people think exactly alike. As a result, your idea might be immediately tossed to the curb by consumers simply because they can't identify with it.
To really validate your idea you need to take to the streets and pick your users/customers' brains. You may even realize you need to solve a completely different problem in the process.