5 Branding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Successful strategic brand building is: Repetition, Reputation and Resonance.

I Have a Logo - My Job Here is Done:

Your brand is more than just a logo! A common misconception is that a logo and a brand are synonymous. Although your logo is the most important visual definer for your company, it is actually just the foundation of which your brand builds on.

A company needs to bring it's brand to full realization through ALL of it's marketing materials, internal corporate culture, mission statement and a clear definition of what sets your business apart. Your brand is an extension of your values, your voice and your connection to YOUR audience and customer experience. It is not your favourite color and a $5 logo and an overdone tag line: "World's greatest...". It is strategic, culturally aware and a message and most importantly - memorable and unique.

Today's consumer can smell out a fraud a mile away. They are looking for a connection to your message and values

Not Having Employee Buy-in:

Don't make them wear goofy hats with your logo on it, and reward them when you see them being brand ambassadors.

Your employees are your walking, talking brand equity builders. Educate and excite them about your company vision, the qualities that set you apart, share in the accomplishments, encourage innovation, create an environment where they are happy to talk about your company and believe in what you sell or your service. Your customers will remember a positive experience which builds loyalty. If their experience is poor or service is slack, they will share that faster than you can upload another cat video to your Facebook page.

Branding Without Focusing on Experience:

Without a doubt, having a strong brand is always advantageous. It can create a positive perception among your customers and make it enormously easier to sell.

However, many mistakenly perceive the brand as a logo, an ad campaign or the beauty of product packaging. Ultimately, your brand is the emotion that a customer feels when thinking about your product. While branding can help to create a positive perception about your product, your customers' experience with your product is even more important. To improve the customer experience focus, be timely on resolving customer service issues. Whether it's implementing live chat on your website or responding to emails within 24 hours, establish a system that puts the customer first.

Inconsistency Across Different Platforms:

You have a logo, you have chosen the perfect color palette. It is aligned with your message and positions strategy. Your business cards look amazing. Ok, the web site colors are a little brighter and orange and the company golf shirt is kind of rose colored - not fire engine red, but that is close enough right.. it does has my logo on it.

Sadly - very wrong. A person must see your brand a minimum of 7 times before they start to remember it. and if it keeps changing, that not will require even more touch points to have the brain connect the experiences. If you are not consistent, your brand will appear unprofessional and lose identity, making your brand less trustworthy.

If you have had a professional designer create a brand style guide, this will help you greatly keep all materials looking like they belong to you. It should not only include your logo, but also your color palette along with all the color breakdowns for multiple usages such as print, digital, embroidery, signage, etc. Your brand statement. The style of images that speak your language. Consistent font choices with font combinations and size standards, and more. Now here is the hard part... are you ready?

Consistently follow your brand's style guide on ALL your marketing campaigns across every channel, including your website, social networking profiles and printed materials. Be absolutely strict with your usage. Slight variations may be ok, but stretching a logo, or using a comic sans font because it is cute instead of your chosen standard. It waters down your brand recognition. I doubt you would find the Coca Cola logo in orange.

Not Kknowing your Audience:

Many start up brands want to appeal to a broad and undefined general consumer audience, but this is generally ineffective.

It is critical that you go through the process of strategically defining your target demographic. You need to understand what resonates with them and speak to them in a voice they will understand and connect with. If your target market doesn't feel you are speaking specifically to them and addressing their unique concerns, you will lose their attention and fast. Be clear and be consistent.

Make time to do your market research BEFORE you start down the path of visual brand creative development. Test, test, and test again. Get feedback and do not base your design direction on your favorite style and shade of green. You are not selling to you.

A classic example of a brand not researching their audience well enough was Gerber marketing baby food in Africa using a photo of a cute baby on the label. Now in Africa and many countries with low literacy, it is common that product labels visually show what's inside the package so those who can not read understand what they are buying. Getting a visual of that? Ewww.

Brand equity building takes time. It is not set in stone - it evolves as the market and trends do and as your business evolves.