9 Branding Mistakes That May Kill Your Business

There’s a lot at stake when you’re managing a business and developing a brand identity.

One wrong move can result in loss of invested resources, a negative image in the market, and you having to start all over again.

Branding Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business

Tired of trying and investing to no avail? When it comes to branding, there’s a lot you could be doing wrong unconsciously.

Branding is a crucial part of a business that ensures the organization is recognized, sought after, and valued in the market.

Your brand is your identity, and it depicts what you propose or stand for.

A brand is what attracts and retains loyal customers. It gives them a sense of belonging, which turns them into recurring buyers.

While there are many benefits of branding, it takes a lot of resources and patience to do it right. Above all, you need acumen and a sense of where you’re headed.

If you’re moving in the wrong direction, all your efforts may go to waste. But how do you know which way to go?

Since there’s a whole world of possibilities when it comes to what can be done right, we think it’s easier to list down errors, or what shouldn’t be done when branding your business.

We’ve compiled a list of nine branding mistakes people often make to help you understand what NOT to do. Hopefully, it will set you in the right direction.

1. Not Highlighting Your USPs

Almost every business has competitors; if not at present, then in the future to come. What keeps them going is how different they are despite having similar products or services to offer.

Branding Mistakes

Each business has a unique selling point that aligns specifically with their target audience’s preferences. Take Wendy’s and Burger King for example.

Both of them are restaurants. Both of them offer fast food. But each has a different type of food to offer.

Burger King’s unique selling point is the variety of affordable food, while Wendy’s has been focusing on made to order burgers with fresh ingredients.

These are the unique selling points that set Burger King and Wendy’s apart from each other despite being competitors. Needless to say, being vocal about it is one of the ways both brands have survived for so long.

What set’s you apart from your competitors? Find your unique selling point, or create it, and make it as prominent a part of your brand as you can.

Your prospects should know why they should choose you over your competitors.

2. Complicating Your Design

While complexity can be beautiful in arts, branding is a whole different story. Your brand image needs to be vivid in your customers’ minds.

They should be able to recall your name when they think about something you have to offer. The more you complicate your designs, the harder they are to remember.

Not to mention how negatively it affects the user experience if you have a website or an app with a very complicated design. Your procedures should never feel like a maze to customers.

Branding Mistakes

Simplicity is the best policy when it comes to design that is viewed by the masses with short attention spans or no time to have a closer look.

Bold and minimalistic designs speak louder than those with a lot of distracting elements. Simpler designs that are consistent with your organization’s values and theme can be remembered for longer periods.

The urge to add more to your design is something all of us can relate to, especially when you’re so passionate about your business.

But it can backfire when the customers end up frustrated or overwhelmed with the intricacies of your interface and web layout. Or hardly notice your logo, poster, and banners because of how much focus it requires to register all the details of the design.

Simpler designs ensure a seamless experience. And that goes for the steps in the customer journey as well. Make it easy for your customers to take the next step.

Mc Donald’s logo is a great example of the power of simplicity in branding. Amazon’s website is another example of a simple and easy to use interface.

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3. Targeting Everyone

Unless you’re an international brand with franchises across the globe, targeting everyone with the same campaign, theme or way is a bad idea.

The wider the range of audiences you target, the more generic your brand’s theme will become, until it is no longer effective.

Branding Mistakes

A successful brand is the one people can connect with, or relate to. This requires your branding to be more and more specific.

You can’t target everyone with the same proposition and expect a good response. To spark interest in people, you have to show them that you care or that they belong with you.

Branding requires a level of intimacy with people, which means you have to share a common ground with a group of people and exclusively focus on them.

Nike is a great example when it comes to targeting. Their primary focus is young, athletic individuals who are enthusiastic about sports.

They sponsor sports events, and their entire strategy revolves around stirring the emotions of young individuals who love sports.

This level of targeting enables efficient use of resources and brings greater returns on investment.

4. No Buyer Personas

One of the worst mistakes I’ve seen startups and medium-sized businesses make is to not form a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is the visualization of your target audience through an imaginary character with all their traits, desires, lifestyle, demographics, and setbacks.

Branding Mistakes

Your entire branding strategy is supposed to revolve around it.

If you don’t make a detailed buyer persona, you won’t be able to hit the bull’s eye. A buyer persona enables you to build stories your target audience can relate to on a personal level.

Integrating your brand, product, or service in those stories can help them see the value in it. This, in turn, makes them want to stick around and buy from you.

It is important to note that supporting any causes your buyer persona is likely to be concerned about can help you win customer loyalty, popularity, and consumer goodwill.

Apple has a great way of representing their buyer persona using iPad in their ad.

Research well, design your buyer persona and get creative with the ways you can get their attention or draw them in.

5. Refusing To A/B Test

A/B Testing often requires money, resources, and time. Things the majority of us are unwilling to invest without the promise of results.

Branding Mistakes

Here’s the thing about A/B testing though. While it may look like a waste of money to some and a project for the long-term to many, it prevents major loss to your business even in the initial stages.

Imagine investing big portions of your budget in one ad or niche, and later finding out that the other one you set aside could’ve delivered better returns on investment.

Risk a smaller amount of money on different strategies, campaigns, or ad copies to test which ones receive the best response from the audience.

You can optimize your branding strategies with this approach since you will have some insight to start with. That will ensure you’re sailing in the right direction.

6. Fearing Change

Everything in this world is temporary and changing; trends, dynamics, political situations, consumer behavior, markets, and even the demographics of your customer segments.

A stagnant design or use of the same brand image can overtime go out of date. Adapting to change is not only essential in terms of technology, but also in terms of brand, motto, and presentation.

Branding Mistakes

You have to be aware that new generations of your customers are always entering the market, and your current buyers are changing with time and age.

The most dangerous of traps here is that all of it is subtle. So you often don’t notice the need for change until your business has gotten to the point of needing a complete rebranding.

At that point, it may even feel like starting from zero, and such a drastic change might even scare you. After all, it is too risky to try.

But not as risky as letting your brand image die out and fade away. One of the best ways you can avoid this extreme case scenario is to keep making tiny changes to your brand every once in a while.

A number of huge brands have done that. Toyota’s logo, for example, has changed a great deal over time. Another example would be AT&T, whose logo evolved to a point that if we saw its first one, we may not even recognize it.

VISA has gone through several changes over the years, and it only improved their image. Take inspiration from these companies and keep tweaking your brand to improve, upgrade, and update it.

7. Failure To Maintain Consistency

As the saying goes, consistency is key. The entire point of branding is to emphasize upon a message and an image that you want people to associate with you and your business.

Branding Mistakes

Effective branding turns your chosen theme and message into your identity. How does it work? Branding is similar to how you get your name.

It is decided at birth, but the only reason people know you with that name is that you are repeatedly addressed with it.

Everything that represents you; your ID, certificates, legal documents, agreements, and records, etc.; have it on them, with the same spelling, and pronunciation.

This consistency and repetition develop that name as a major part of your identity. Branding works in a similar way.

If your name had a different spelling on each of your papers, and it was pronounced differently each time you met a new person, it might’ve not worked so well. Or you might’ve taken much longer to memorize your original name.

Similarly, your motto, theme, logo, slogan, and the key identifiers of your brand should remain consistent across all platforms.

Having a different color scheme, tagline, and overall theme for every platform dilutes the effects of branding. It works against your brand as none of the themes will stick into a viewer’s mind.

Have a look at Facebook’s branding as an example. Its color scheme, logo, and overall theme stay consistent across all platforms, events, and places. A standard combination of blue, gray, black, and white is what Facebook’s every display and outlet consists of.

Never deviate from your theme when it comes to representation and identity. Consistency is what your branding relies upon.

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8. Sending Mixed Messages

A great chunk of businesspeople doesn’t even consider this a mistake or a bad decision. Just like theme and colors, your messages need to be consistent.

Trying to shove a myriad of messages in one campaign, or sending out a different message on each appearance is a surefire way of losing the impact of ALL of those messages, or worse, getting them mixed up in a customer’s head.

Branding Mistakes

It is vital for you to focus on one message per campaign, and perpetuate it until it is engraved in everyone’s mind. That is how you can emphasize and reinforce the idea of that message being associated with your brand’s identity.

There are many ways you can be sending out mixed messages; frequent change of taglines or slogans, your firm’s social media activity contradicting your messages, your actions, or business activity going against the concepts your brand revolves around and the list goes on.

Be sure to focus on one message and align everything with it to add emphasis lest you lose your customers’ trust or confuse them.

9. Expecting Engagement On The First Stage

Branding is a process that takes time and has multiple stages before the brand gains the recognition and popularity you’re looking for.

If you’re a newly formed organization, your first instinct should be to create brand awareness. At this stage, there’s little to no engagement happening, however, your name, logo, and tagline are flashed at your audience from time to time through different media.

At this stage, you should be focused on how many people have gotten familiar with your outlook and name. How many impressions, likes, notes, or reactions you’ve gained when it comes to online marketing.

Branding Mistakes

The entire branding strategy at this point aims to invite people to have a look at your brand, get familiar with it, and remember your name for future deals.

Expecting audience engagement, comments, leads, conversions or sales at this stage is useless and harmful. It can cause you to rush things through, and make you appear desperate.

You might come off as pushy trying to close a deal when the customers are only looking. And this often drives the existing prospects away.

It simpler terms, it makes you look shady or like a spammer. Have patience, let people get to know you, and wait for the customer to be ready before slipping in a straightforward sales pitch.

A guide for you: Logo Design and Branding Color Guide

In Conclusion

Branding is one of the crucial components of an organization’s identity. It helps you gain trust, attract customers, and gain loyalty.

However, it’s no piece of cake. There’s a lot that can go wrong with branding. Fortunately, a lot of damage can be prevented if you make sure you don’t make the following mistakes:

  • Not highlighting your USPs
  • Complicating your design
  • Targeting everyone
  • Not making relevant buyer personas
  • Refusing to A/B Test
  • Fearing Change
  • Being inconsistent
  • Sending mixed messages
  • Expecting immediate sales or popularity

These are some of the most common mistakes people make while promoting their businesses. These errors can lead to wastage of resources, negative brand image, and in some cases, failure of the business.

Make sure to avoid these and hopefully, you’ll be set in the direction. Keep learning, and make good choices.

  • A Picture of Waqas D.

    Waqas D.

Waqas D. is the co-founder of the branding and website agency, FullStop™. He supercharges brands by crafting memorable logos, brand identities and engaging websites. Besides thousands of startups and medium-size businesses, FullStop has worked with likes of Microsoft & L’Oréal. View our portfolio or get in touch.

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