For the absolute love of all things good and holy, don’t ever make the mistake of assuming that a logo and some bright colors make your brand. If your idea of a solid brand is a gimmick or a quirky tagline that rhymes, your business is done. Finished. Caput. Game Over.
Here’s why we’re telling you this.
It’s overwhelming when you’re starting a business. A sea of endless advice that translates to a haphazard attempt to implement shit you maybe didn’t quite understand. And everyone learns differently. Sometimes, instead of drowning in the possibilities of branding techniques, it can be more advantageous to recognize what branding is NOT. And we can, of course, all learn a few things from the mistakes of others. As you explore your branding development, take these scenarios into consideration. Some are drop-dead business mistakes. Others are just bad ideas that will lead you down an unsuccessful path.
Here are the mistakes you should seek to avoid as you develop and build your brand strategy. Think absolute deal-breakers here. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to print this out and keep it handy for every branding effort conversation you have.
How Terrible (or No) Branding Will Hurt Your Business
Whatever you do, don’t ignore your brand development, especially right now in the early stages of your business.
Melissa’s Boutique: Melissa feels like she’s maybe jumped the gun and launched her business without having developed her brand yet. Everything happened so quickly as she leaped from selling to friends and family to doing trunk shows and hosting events to strangers. She wonders if it’s too late to effectively develop a brand or rebrand at this point. As she considers her options and realizes she doesn’t really know what to do next, the days turn into weeks. She’s wasting valuable time because of her paralysis by analysis. And she’s missing out on plenty of boutique sales as a result.
Doug’s Dentistry: Doug has his hands full right now. He’s getting all the logistics together for his dentistry, ordering equipment and dental chairs, deciding which dental record-keeping software he needs and interviewing hygienist candidates to join his team. But at the end of each day, as he sits down with his plan, he realizes he didn’t pay enough attention to his brand strategy. He knows his WHY and believes his core audience is going to be those dental patients who have extreme anxiety about dental procedures. But he feels he’s not done enough with his brand yet. He hasn’t developed an official strategy, and he doesn’t really know where to even start.
Don’t let yourself get caught in Melissa’s paralysis by analysis trap. Thinking, re-thinking and more thinking translates to a lot less doing. Understanding your WHY will help you move forward. And it’s never a bad time or too late to sit down with your brand and develop a strategy.
Doug feels he’s identified his brand voice and unique brand story. But he’s not sure how to turn that into an official strategy that applies to every decision he makes moving forward. You might be feeling stuck in your brand journey at this point with your business, just like Melissa and Doug are. Execution of your brand strategy is the next step and it requires a clear itinerary of verbs.
In Doug’s scenario, here are what some of his action items should be right now:
- Design an office layout that is comfortable for the anxious.
- Buy dental chairs that are the most comfortable for patients.
- Invest in supplies he needs to perform his unique sedation techniques.
- Hire empathetic, passionate and kind dental hygienists.
- Explore financing options for patients potentially accruing high dental costs.
- Design a well-branded logo, tagline (if need be) and website with compelling and inspirational messaging.
In both of these examples, the business owners need to devise a plan based on their respective motivations. Identifying your brand voice should then be transitioned to a set of rules that you use to measure every decision. Don’t hire someone who doesn’t fit the brand. Don’t talk about a website without a clear brand guide. Don’t design a logo or a sign without first consulting your brand rules.
And here are a few other mistakes to avoid making with your brand strategy.
The Most Common Branding Mistakes to Avoid (at All Costs)
If any of these branding statements resonate with you, stop what you’re doing right now. You’re steering your company ship in the wrong direction and missing out on proper brand development basics. Remember, your brand will touch every single aspect of your business. If it’s inconsistent, unclear or unbelievable you are destined to fail; plain and simple.
Not Knowing, with Immediate Clarity, WHY Your Business Exists: We talk about understanding your WHY so much because it’s just that important. Don’t chase the buck. Don’t try to “beat” the competition. Look internally at why you’re starting this business and be honest about why your business should exist. That clarity will help you develop your brand story rooted in your vision. And it will resonate with your customers.
Underestimating the Value of Your Brand Strategy: Knowing your WHY is only half of the equation. You’re not done with branding yet. Now you need to create a brand strategy that introduces your story to your audiences. Your brand strategy will be the roadmap to help you reach your customers. After all, having a vision without execution strategies is still just an idea in your head.
Not Developing or Enforcing Brand Guidelines: If your brand speaks to solving a specific problem or addressing a core audience, brand guidelines will help you maintain the best targeting efforts accordingly. A set of brand rules will also keep you from making future decisions that are inauthentic or unsupportive of the overarching brand story.
Not Having a Brand Message: Your brand message refers to the unspoken value proposition conveyed used in your content. It’s what will make buyers relate to your brand because it has a specific tone that inspires, persuades or motivates them on an emotional level, so they want more of what you’re offering – whether it’s products/services, ideas, etc. Ultimately, this will lead consumers to become loyal customers who buy whatever branded thing(s) you put out there!
Not Having a Precise Brand Voice: When people encounter your brand, do they get confused by your messaging? Are you the discount service provider or the authority in your space? Do you have witty and conversational messages mixed with professional and C-Level voices? Don’t dilute your branding efforts by not identifying a brand voice to match. It would be pretty ridiculous if the Snuggle bear were voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait.
What NOT To Do When Executing Your Brand Strategy
Once you have your brand story and a set of rules to help you reinforce your brand with every decision, it’s time to execute. Here are some brand strategy execution mistakes to avoid as you go.
Having a Logo that Doesn’t Embody Your Brand: Snuggle fabric softener has soft colors and a fluffy bear. It wouldn’t make sense to use rigid graphic designs, excessively vibrant colors or a fucking porcupine in the company’s brand. Consider your brand when you develop your company logo, tagline or mascot if you have one. Make sure it’s a perfect match in terms of how your audience feels and recognizes what you offer.
Vague or General Content: Do you say things like “the best customer experience,” “knowledgeable staff,” or “state-of-the-art solutions?” Yeah, well, so does everyone else. Using vague language to describe your business, especially when it talks about customer experiences that most people likely expect from you already, is a waste. Instead, focus on your brand’s unique differentiator and ensure your content reflects what sets you apart from the market.
Messaging that Feels Bandwagon-ish: If you’re an HVAC company and you send maintenance technicians to someone’s home, don’t spend all your time promoting how “your guys wear slippers in your house.” It’s a trend that began years ago and most home-based service providers make use of the shoe covers these days. Make sure that your messaging doesn’t feel bandwagon-ish, like you’re just trying to catch up to industry best practices.
Neglecting the Customer Experience: We mentioned this above slightly, but it’s worth reinforcing. It’s so critical that you consider the experience behind every engagement, visual, digital or in-person. How your customers feel about your brand and business will be the core foundation for repeat business, positive customer testimonials and a continuous flow of new business.
What a Messy Message Says to Your Audience: If you’re in such a hurry that you overlook grammar mistakes in emails, have poorly written copy on your website or post on social media using the wrong versions of “their, they’re, there,” you’re sending a message to everyone that you don’t care.
In the sea of “to-do” lists out there, telling you what you need to do with your brand and brand strategy, you can get lost. Maybe this roster of brand mistakes will help you avoid pivotal branding setbacks that can run your new business off into the ditch.
And as always, when you’re ready to bring in a professional to help, give us a call. You can schedule a FREE consultation right now to discuss where you are in your branding process and get actionable insights on how to move forward and achieve success.