The business atmosphere is more competitive than ever. Startups must launch from a strong foundation to succeed in the long term, but plenty of them make early branding mistakes that sabotage their growth.
Even enterprise companies have made disastrous branding and rebranding blunders that cost them money, time, and reputation, despite having an existing customer base and a vast budget.
Many business owners fail to understand the full potential of effective brand development and how it shapes the business, its customers, and its employees. Though they may realize that branding is vital to success, committing the most common branding mistakes causes harm without them knowing it.
What Is Brand Development?
Brand development is the process of creating and strengthening a brand, which includes defining brand strategy, establishing the brand assets like the logo, website, and tagline, and identifying the brand’s target audience.
The brand development process is strategic and never truly finished. Its ongoing goals act as benchmarks to guide new ideas and products as the business grows, the culture changes, or the audience expands.
Here are some common branding blunders:
1. Thinking Branding Is a Company Logo
Many business executives believe branding is accomplished with just a brand name, logo, colors, and typography. While those can be used to visually represent a brand, there’s much more to branding. An integrated brand ethos also includes a mission statement, vision, values, principles, and message that tell its story.
Branding includes everything you communicate about your business to customers, potential customers, and employees. The key is that branding isn’t just for target customers. Clear, consistent branding helps employees make an emotional connection with the promise of the experience you’re giving to customers. It also helps employees become more enthusiastic and motivated, turning them into loyal and authentic brand ambassadors.
|✔ Logo||✔ Color Palette||✔ Shapes||✔ Tagline||✔ Tone||✔ Voice|
|✔ Fonts||✔ Imagery||✔ Positioning||✔ Purpose||✔ Vision||✔ Mission|
|✔ Values||✔ Principles||✔ Typography||✔ Style Guide||✔ Promise||✔ Value Prop|
2. Having a Poorly Defined Value Proposition
Most businesses have a value proposition, which defines what customers get when they buy your product or services. But having a value proposition doesn’t necessarily mean you have a unique value. For some businesses, the value proposition is almost identical to its competitors’.
For example, Bombas®, the well-known sock brand, has a value proposition that states that for each pair of socks sold, it’ll donate one pair to underprivileged people. This is a noble cause, but it’s not unique as a value proposition – TOMS® shoe brand also uses this “one-for-one” model with its shoes.
The value proposition is a differentiator. It states what sets your brand apart from your competitors and your brand’s unique offering, which can then guide everything your brand does now and in the future.
3. Not Having a Clear Branding Strategy
Having and abiding by a clear brand marketing strategy and brand guidelines ensure you stay consistent across your communication and marketing channels. This is essential, since 90% of customers expect to have the same experience with a brand, regardless of the channel they choose for interactions.
If you want your brand to stand out, you have to clearly communicate who you are and what you stand for as a brand and what your brand offers that’s different from competitors. That can only happen if you have a clear marketing strategy that reaches your target audience and that your employees understand.
4. Focusing Too Much on Brand Visuals
The logo and other brand assets should be attractive and memorable, but focusing too much on them and not enough on the substance of the brand will do a disservice to the brand over time.
The brand assets and visual elements should relay other aspects of the brand, such as principles and brand values. This helps the business’ overall branding make an impact on the target audience.
5. Starting with a Cheap Brand Identity
A mistake that often occurs with new or small businesses is trying to cut costs with branding services like logo design. Budget is a concern, but you often get what you pay for with professional graphic design versus a logo maker.
Brand assets can vary widely in price and in quality. You can pay $5 for a logo on freelance sites like Fiverr® or opt for hundreds of thousands of dollars with a major branding firm. Logos play a key role in the branding strategy, so it’s important not to bargain hunt.
At its core, a logo is a visual representation of brand messaging and needs to effectively convey who you are and what your brand stands for. Logo design doesn’t have to consume your entire branding budget, but it shouldn’t be an area to skimp either.
Think of the now iconic Starbucks® siren logo. At first glance, it may seem disconnected from coffee, but there’s a good reason that Starbucks chose this logo.
In 1971, the founders chose the name Starbucks, inspired by the classic story of Moby Dick. While browsing old books about maritime history, the founders felt that the siren was “calling to them” like it does in mythology. It tied into what they were looking to do with the brand, and they based the logo on it.
There are two significant connections between Starbucks and maritime lore. Seattle, the hometown of the brand, is a port city and closely tied to the water – economically and culturally. Coffee also travels by sea to reach its destination. To this day, Starbucks coffee arrives by port on container ships.
6. Trying to Be Trendy
Trends affect just about every facet of society, including fashion, art, and diets. And by definition, trends come and go, so if you base your branding on one, you’ll risk being outdated in the not-too-distant future. when that happens, you can rebrand, but that’s an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.
In addition, frequently rebranding your business could negatively affect your website ranking, undoing the effort you put into building organic traffic. Customers may have a harder time finding you, reducing your exposure.
When you’re developing your brand, focus on timeless concepts that suit where your brand is now and where it’s headed, rather than capitalizing on the latest trend that may make you obsolete in just a few years.
7. Trying to Appeal to a Broad Audience
Some of the most successful brands are ones that know exactly who they are and who they appeal to. Sometimes, that makes a brand seem polarizing, but it resonates with the customers in the target audience – those they’re trying to reach.
Death Wish Coffee Co® is a good example of a business that embraces its brand personality and conveys it throughout all its products, copywriting, and content. While it may be too edgy for some, the brand isn’t trying to appeal to those people – it understands its audience.
Source: Death Wish Coffee
If you’re tempted to create a broad concept or tone down aspects of your brand to reach a wider audience, you’ll only come across as vague, unstable, and insecure to all your prospective customers. Instead, focus on building a strong sense of brand identity and nurturing relationships with your ideal customers.
8. Imitating Others
It’s one thing to be inspired by a successful brand and quite another to copy it. There are some businesses that have built an entire brand by copying the elements that made other companies successful.
At best, you’ll confuse your audience and fail to establish what makes you unique. At worst, you could face expensive lawsuits that have a negative impact on all aspects of your business.
One famous example involves the media giant NBC®, which rolled out a new logo in 1976. A small network in Nebraska, ETV®, caught wind of the similarities between the logos and filed suit immediately. NBC ended up settling and created new logos before returning to its classic peacock design.
Source: Ken Levine
9. Over Promising and Under Delivering
One of the factors that separates a good brand from a great brand is the ability to imagine the possibilities. But brands filled with big promises they can’t deliver only disappoint customers and harm their reputation.
At its core, a brand is a promise of an experience. Keeping that promise is crucial to maintaining trust and growing a business. When that promise is broken, customers are let down and feel deceived. Then, even relaunching the brand doesn’t guarantee winning them over.
Conversely, following through with your brand promise nurtures a loyal and satisfied customer base that shares their positive experience with others, promoting your growth. A strong brand inspires others to feel connected to your business and its offerings.
10. Alienating the Target Audience
Most business owners perceive their brand through their own eyes, not their customers’. This can leave a big gap in perception that alienates some of the target audience.
Likewise, with content strategy, some business owners focus too strongly on content that targets only one stage of the marketing funnel – often the decision stage. This leaves leads at the top of the middle ignored.
Additionally, in the customer experience, if quality customer service is only provided to customers who are likely to buy or those who have made a purchase, that leaves everyone else feeling undervalued and dismissed.
The common theme among all of these is meeting the needs of everyone in the target market, no matter where they fall in the buyer’s journey.
Position Your Brand for Success with a Branding Agency
Engineering a successful brand is more than designing a logo and choosing colors. Branding strategies encompass everything that defines your brand for your customers, prospects, and employees and guides your business into the future.
If you’re looking for brand development services, Rocket Launch can help. Our full-service branding agency can ignite your brand and take you to the next level. Ready to plan your mission? Contact us today!