10 Common Branding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Branding is the one thing that truly sets you apart from the competition. It is a declaration of who you are, as well as a promise you aim to keep to your customers.
It is hard to succeed in a competitive market without excellent branding. Yet even the most successful companies are prone to making some common branding mistakes.
Why Do Branding Mistakes Happen?
There are many reasons why these mistakes happen.
The usual causes include ignorance, as well as a lack of information and/or initiative. Some can also be the result of a company willingly taking risks with its branding strategy.
And although some of these common branding mistakes might not be fatal, many can put your brand in serious danger. That’s why it is important to learn about them and try your best to avoid them.
The 10 Most Common Branding Mistakes
Here we’ll take a look at the ten most common branding mistakes that companies make. We’ll also give you tips on how to avoid them.
1. Going for a Generic Brand Name
One of the more common mistakes startups make is that they go for a rather generic name. If you’re only starting your business, you have to come up with a unique name for it.
Your brand name will serve as the basis for your company’s identity. It is the name under which everyone will know you – customers, competitors, and the media.
The brand name you choose will also be your calling card in the business world. It will be the first word you say at any meeting or presentation you attend.
With this in mind, imagine opening a pitch with “Hi, we’re Wind!” Apart from being generic, that name says nothing about what your company does or what it stands for.
Furthermore, would your customers buy your potato chips if the packaging only said “Potato Chips?” Or would they opt for a brand with a more interesting name like “Crispy” or “Chip ‘n Dip?”
Your brand name shouldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment thing. It should be the result of careful planning, research, and creative thinking.
2. Complicated Brand Identity
Trying too hard to make your brand name super-simple may take you to the opposite extreme. You could come up with a name that’s too complex, which is one of the main branding mistakes to avoid.
A 2009 study looked into the business results of 700 publicly listed companies between 1990 and 2004. The results showed that the companies with simpler names had 11% higher earnings.
Potential customers need only a few seconds to form an opinion about your brand. The first things they’ll see in those few seconds are the design of your product and your name.
If they don’t like your design, you could always tweak it or even give it a complete revamp. But if they dislike your name, it’s not as simple to change or tweak it.
Your brand name needs to be bold and clear. It needs to reflect the spirit and values of your brand without being too simple or too complex.
3. Visual Inconsistency
It’s not just the name that can hamper the success of your brand. The quality of your visual branding plays an equally important role in your marketing efforts.
And just like your name needs to be simple, your visual branding does, too. That is the only way to avoid one of the more common branding mistakes – visual inconsistency.
But what exactly does it mean to have consistent visual branding?
In simple terms, it means that your audiences can easily recognize your products just by looking at them. You can achieve this by using unique fonts, color schemes, and templates.
For example, let’s take a look at Coca-Cola.
They have many different products but they all sport the same basic design. As such, a quick glimpse at the packaging is enough to tell it’s a Coca-Cola product.
You could say the same about Google, whose four-color scheme is instantly recognizable. Pepsi’s patriotic color palette is another good example of visual consistency.
4. Placing Too Much Value on Your Logo
Many companies believe that their branding rests solely on their visual identity. But as we have learned from one notable example, this is wrong.
Not that long ago, Yahoo was a very popular search engine. By 2013, however, it was lagging behind Google and Baidu.
The powers that be knew that the Yahoo brand needed a major revamp. So they decided to redesign the company’s well-known logo.
As you may have guessed, this change did nothing to improve the brand’s reputation. Not only that, but the online community was very critical of the redesign.
And even if their new logo was excellent, it still wouldn’t have made a difference. That’s because they failed to address the main reason that their popularity was down – the functionality of their service.
Remember, there’s more to your branding than just the visual identity. To avoid the negative effects of unsuccessful branding, you must also address those other aspects of your identity.
Sure, great looking visuals can help you capture the attention of potential customers. But the only way to get them on board is to offer products and services that match what your competitors offer in terms of quality.
5. Focusing Solely on Customers
The success of your business depends on your customers, so it’s normal to focus your attention on them. But you shouldn’t do this right from the start.
That’s one of the more common branding mistakes that small businesses make. They keep adjusting their strategy to their customer’s needs, often to disappointing results.
Why does this happen?
Well, these businesses overlook the fact that they’re dealing with lighthouse customers. Most of these customers are here for the curiosity factor, but they’re not their target audience.
Experts recommend focusing on the clients you want, not those you already have.
Of course, you shouldn’t ignore the early adopters as their input may be valuable going forward. But it takes time to attract the right customers. And it takes even longer to build lasting relationships with them.
Focus on getting investors on board first. They can help you find your footing and position your brand locally and globally.
Throughout this process, you’ll get a feel for the market and identify your target audience. Once you’ve built a strong, recognizable brand, you’ll be ready to focus on the needs of your loyal customers.
6. Not Keeping an Eye Out for Your Competition
While you’re focusing on investors and customers, you mustn’t lose sight of your competition. If you do, you could easily make not one but two common branding mistakes.
Firstly, learning from your competitors is essential to achieving success in your business. This is especially true if you’re only setting up your company.
But you’ll be denying yourself that opportunity if you fail to research your competition.
You wouldn’t learn from their successes and mistakes. You will thus be more likely to underestimate your competition and set yourself up for failure.
Some companies also tend to copy their competitors’ strategies without giving it a second thought. They seem to forget that the goal of branding is to set them apart from the competition.
This is wrong as no two brands are the same. As such, every brand needs its own custom strategy to succeed in a crowded market.
To avoid these two common branding mistakes, you need to know what your competitors are up to at all times. Learn about their strong points and find out how you could use their weaknesses to your advantage.
7. Limiting Your Marketing Budget
Cutting costs is one of the best ways to make your business profitable. But whatever you do, you shouldn’t limit your marketing budget.
It is one of the more common branding mistakes and definitely something you should avoid.
As you may already know, marketing is a prerequisite to successful branding. Without it, you can’t communicate your brand message to the world.
If you want your brand to succeed, you need to use all available marketing channels. And to do that, you’ll need a sizable budget, especially if you’re running a startup.
Your strategy has to be a combination of traditional and digital marketing. If you’re a local business, you could benefit even more from offline than online marketing.
Sure, you may have to invest a lot in your company’s marketing. But if you don’t do it, you’ll experience a major lack of brand awareness in the public. When there’s no way for people to hear about you, all your branding efforts will be in vain.
8. Expanding Before Turning a Profit
All entrepreneurs want only the best for their fledgling businesses. There’s no business owner that doesn’t want to expand their brand and take it global.
Some of them, however, choose to expand their business before it becomes profitable.
This is one of the most dangerous common business mistakes you could make. If you’ve ever seen an episode of “Shark Tank” or “Dragons’ Den”, you probably know this already.
Starting your own business is like building a house from the ground up. Before you can add one or more floors to your house, you need to build a strong foundation.
If you fail to do it step by step, one tiny mistake could cause everything you’ve built to fall apart. The same can happen to your business if you expand it too soon.
You need to build a strong local brand before you can expand it to other regions and countries. If you’re looking to expand your services, you first need to excel at those you already offer.
For a good example of this, look no further than Netflix.
They launched their DVD mail rental service, the first of its kind, in 1998. It took them nine years to build a recognizable brand in the US, which is when they decided to expand to streaming.
It then took six years to position themselves as the leading streaming platform. Once they’ve achieved this status, they were finally ready to start producing their own content.
In all, it took Netflix 15 years to grow from a niche rental company into a worldwide brand. Sure, Qwikster was by no means a success, but Netflix’s brand was so strong that a failure like that couldn’t destroy it.
9. Lack of Progress
While it’s never a good idea to expand too soon, you will need to do it eventually. If you don’t, you could lose most of your customers to one of your competitors.
The global marketplace is evolving all the time. Customers are always looking to try new and improved products and services. The demand for innovation is always high and it’s your job to meet that demand.
If you fail to move with the times, your customers will look elsewhere for what they need.
Do you think Netflix would be this successful in 2018 if it remained a DVD rental service? Would Amazon be the media powerhouse it is if it was still only selling books?
The answer to both questions is no.
Improving and expanding your services is one of the best ways to keep your brand fresh and relevant. It’s what your customers expect from you and what you need to do to stay in the game.
10. Not Having a Backup Plan
Not all branding strategies will work, no matter how well thought-out they are. But the results of unsuccessful branding for a business can sometimes be devastating.
It is thus important to always have a backup plan.
Think of it as a recovery plan or a set of emergency measures. Its sole purpose is to ensure that your business doesn’t suffer in case your branding strategy fails. At the same time, it needs to be something that you can implement very quickly.
A good backup strategy is what helped Coca-Cola recover from the New Coke fiasco in the mid-1980s. It is also the reason why nobody remembers Amazon’s ill-fated attempt to launch the Fire Phone in 2014.
Some common branding mistakes are almost impossible to avoid. If they happen, only your ability to act quickly and strategically can help offset the negative effects.
The Final Word
A good branding strategy is essential to your success, but coming up with one can be very difficult. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it on your own.
At The Present Pixel, we can help you overcome any branding challenge that comes your way.
We have worked with more than a dozen successful brands and have been featured as a top branding agency on Design Rush.
With our help, you can turn your up-and-coming business into a success story.
Click here to schedule a consultation with our top branding experts.