It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. If you aren’t paying attention to your branding, you’re making one of the most foolish mistakes that a business could make.
It is not hard to find articles or reports on how businesses shut shop just by failing to prioritize their branding. All it takes is just one small mistake, and sadly, it happens more often than you can think. Just because you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean that some company out there didn’t just shut down because of poor branding.
Poor or inconsistent branding is one of the top reasons why a lot of businesses fail and poor branding usually results from businesses ignoring the value that branding can provide. It isn’t just large organizations that have a brand identity that they can leverage. In fact, these large organizations got to where they are because they focused on branding during their younger years.
Branding isn’t some complex puzzle that needs to be solved using high levels of intelligence. In fact, it’s quite easy. But, it does require some level of understanding. Educating yourself about the basics of branding is all it takes to get started on a good path. You can avoid the typical errors made by other organizations and even reduce the stress that comes with keeping your business afloat.
There’s also a good chance that you might enjoy the exercise once you start seeing the results of effective branding.
To make your branding efforts less problematic, you need to first learn to avoid the most common errors.
Brandings most common mistakes. Here’s a small list to help you out.
Not seeking the right expertise
Gone are the days when you could use your “small business” status to avoid competing with the big guys. Today, technology allows you to stand on par with large enterprises, especially with regard to branding. The trick is to explore as many cost-effective avenues as possible to create awareness.
Failing to live up to your brand promise
If you can’t keep your promises, there’s no point making them in the first place. In order to ensure that your customers remain faithful to you, you need to make sure what you do is in line with what you say or promise.
In other words, you need to maintain brand consistency. Your actions need to be consistent across all channels. For example, the communication on your website needs to match the communication style in your print ads.
The slightest inconsistency can cause customers to lose faith. Reputation is a core ingredient in the branding soup and if you forget to factor that in, you’re going to be in big trouble.
Not using a memorable mark
Look around and you’ll find that a lot of the major brands that you come across have an instantly recognizable visual that also communicates something about the brand. When we say visual, we aren’t just talking about the logo; we are referring to a particular visual element that serves as the brand’s signature.
Michelin has the Michelin Man. Pillsbury has the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Marlboro has its Cowboy.
Customers need to be able to make a visual connection with your brand and that is done through the use of apt visuals. So, take the time to figure out what kind of visual would be ideal for reinforcing your brand image and marketing strategy. You might even have to go so far as to alter your entire strategy if needed.
So, you’ve noticed that your brand is really picking up the pace. At this stage, it can be very tempting to expand further. However, it’s the worst thing you can do. Expansion doesn’t necessarily lead to more business.
McDonald’s would be a good example. The company expanded way more than it should have and is now facing hard times. On the other end, you have In-N-Out, a chain that literally has about just 4-5 items on the menu. Guess who’s making more money? In 2015, In-N-Out reported per-unit sales worth $2,546,000 while McDonald’s, despite its massive size, made just about $2,476,000.
The key is to focus on what you have before experimenting. Risks need to be taken when you’re well-settled; not when you’re still climbing.
Copying the leaders
It is generally a positive thing to learn established brands. However, the key is to seek inspiration and not just copy them. What’s the point of doing exactly what another brand is doing? The whole point of branding is to make sure you stand out from the others in your industry.
Always strive to offer something that is novel, unique and relevant.
Misunderstanding the meaning of branding
A lot of businesses, even in this day and age, fail to understand what branding actually means. Branding isn’t just about having the perfect logo or using the right colors. Though those things are important, there’s much more to branding than that.
Branding is also about identity. You need to communicate to your customers what you represent and what you’re all about. Your logos and colors are just symbols that represent your identity; they are not your identity. Subway uses the color green to indicate health, but the color was chosen based on the identity that it wanted to establish; as a healthier alternative to competitors like McDonald’s or KFC.
Going the advertising way instantly
The best way to establish your brand, in the beginning, is through effective public relations. Not advertising. Advertising is an expensive affair and it may not deliver the intended results. On the other hand, PR is mostly free. So, establish yourself with PR before you spend on advertising.
Startups need to spend some extra time doing PR because it’s the most cost-effective way to create brand awareness. Hiring professional PR help is better reserved for the later stages.
At Crafted, we value our clients’ creative identities. We love working with young startups and fellow entrepreneurs to help them create an impressive voice and vision.
We understand branding is one of the most crucial aspects of any business, large or small. An effective brand can give you a significant edge in today’s highly competitive market.
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