Common branding mistakes and how to avoid them

Developing or updating your branding can be intimidating. It’s costly, time consuming and it can feel like the stakes are high. But it can also be exciting, and when done right, highly rewarding. So, what steps can you take to make sure you build the best brand possible and to ensure you’re utilise your branding effectively going forward. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common branding mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake 1 – Not doing your market research

You know your audience, of course you do, you’ve been in this industry for 15 years! And yet, somehow your sales have been slipping… While it’s true that passionate business owners will have genuine insights into their customer, there’s always a bigger picture. One of the most common branding mistakes, particularly for established businesses is not doing your research.

Sometimes our vision can become so focused that we stop seeing the signs right in front of us. Taking the time to stop and get the lay of the land is extremely helpful in ensuring you’re actually engaging with your target audience. You might be surprised to find your customer profile isn’t exactly who you think it is and you may need to adjust accordingly. Either by embracing your current customer or adjusting your brand to re-align with who you wish to target.

Mistake 2 – Not practicing what you preach

Your brand values aren’t just empty, feel-good statements. They’re the why behind your whole operation, the driving force for what you do every day. If you don’t have a clear why, well…you might need to have a good think about it.

Your values are the foundations on which you’ll build your look, your voice, and all the materials you produce. If this foundation is shaky, you can expect a bit of fracturing down the track.

When developing or adjusting your brand values make sure they’re true to what you do. Who you want to be as a business and most importantly, that they’re sustainable. If you can’t abide by your own values, your brand messaging will end up becoming inconsistent and confusing.

For example, if you build a brand around ethical production and build an audience who shares those values. If you later get caught using unpaid labour, you’re likely to loose those loyal customers and generate a lot of poor public opinion.

Mistake 3 – Being inconsistent

Keeping consistent with your brand goes beyond just sticking to your values. Humans love predictability and feel most comfortable with what they’re familiar with. Change can be good to mix things up on occasion but constant or inconsistent change, is damaging.

If you aren’t rigorous about maintaining your brand, minor edits and changes can build up over time until your marketing ends up looking quite different to what’s in your brand manual. This is known as ‘brand vandalism’ and the killer is usually in the building.

Branding exists so you can be instantly recognisable and relatable to your audience. If you stop looking like yourself, you become harder to pick out of the crowd and could potentially loose customers to your competitors.

Sticking strong to your brand, who you are, shows confidence. A trait the majority of us admire and respect.

Mistake 4 – Not keeping your target audience in mind

Keeping your audience in mind, at all times, is critical to ensure your marketing activity is productive. Sometimes a new trend or change in the market comes up that looks like the next big thing, you just have to get on board! But no matter how new and exciting it is, if it doesn’t align with target audience, you’re wasting your time.

As an extreme example, if your audience is retirees there’s probably little value in offering bitcoin payment options. However, if your audience is more specific, say Silicon Valley retirees this might be a viable option.

Mistake 5 – Not keeping your marketing collateral up to date

Keeping your marketing collateral up to date and in-line with your current branding is extremely important. It’s also one of the more common mistakes when conducting a full re-brand. It’s easily done, the list of marketing collateral and brand materials that will need updating is often extensive, overwhelming and expensive. However, it is extremely important as a visual indicator that you take yourself seriously and the information you’re sharing is up to date and accurate.

For example, if you go to a bank to enquire about a home loan and the brochure they hand you has their old branding on it. Consciously or not, you’re going to question if this is their most up-to date information and/ or if this product has been reviewed recently. Even worse if the rebrand occurred several years ago.

Having said that, no one will expect you to completely roll out the new brand overnight. You will have a grace period to fully transition all your materials over. Just make sure you aren’t being complacent; it can be very easy to focus on the big-ticket items and forget some of the smaller details until it’s too late.

Mistake 6 – Forgetting the brand experience

It sounds twee but branding is much more than how you look it’s also how you feel. How you interact with your customers/ clients both online and in-person can have a much deeper impression than how nice your latest ad campaign looked.

Everything from the music you play, the type of staff you hire, how simple (or complicated) your checkout process is, contribute a lot to your brand experience. The cool but casual teenager would be a great hire for your urban fashion brand but may not be ideal as a corporate receptionist. Lo-fi hip-hop could be great background music for a cosy café but less ideal for a gym franchise.

This can get more complicated when it comes to considerations like, warehousing or shipping partners. If your warehouse is poorly organised, overcrowded or understaffed you may find you have stock management issues, missing orders or damaged, dirty products. Similarly, if you aren’t picky about your shipping partners you may end up dealing with frequent customer complaints about excessive shipping times, rude delivery drivers or missing packages.

While these elements can sometimes be out of your control, they all contribute to the brand experience. The easiest way to avoid this common branding mistake is to stay aware of the bigger picture and addressing problems as quickly as possible.

Mistake  7 – Not being yourself

While trite, it’s worth repeating “be yourself, because everyone else is already taken”.

When it comes to branding this can be easier said than done. Especially in industries where there is an established ‘look’ or in more dynamic markets, where keeping up with trends is important. Similarities can be unavoidable but what you need to avoid is straight up copying someone else. This common branding mistake can not only can this have legal ramifications, but it isn’t good for your brand’s authenticity.

How do you build an authentic brand? Confidence and consistency. If your brand has clear vision, strong values and makes consistent effort the rest happens automatically. Even if your brand is visually similar to your competitors, your differences will become apparent in how you operate.

Brands that rely on mimicry lack substance, they look and feel hollow. This approach can work in the short term but rarely will rarely result in brand loyalty or return customers.

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There you have it 7 common branding mistakes and how to avoid them.

Wether you’re starting a new brand, refreshing your current one or just wanting to make sure you’re on the right track. We hope this guide has been helpful and informative for you. If you’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed we’re always available to have a chat and help you out with all things branding, digital marketing and graphic design.

Send us a line and we’ll be in touch.

Tin Can Admin