Your brand is the face of your business. It’s what your customers and the world at large picture when they think of your business. As such, there’s a whole lot more to building a brand than designing a fancy logo and coming up with a catchy slogan. Your brand should encapsulate everything that makes your business great and that makes is stand out among legions of competitors. Yet, while most entrepreneurs understand the importance of branding, some businesses adopt branding strategies that are either superficial, misleading or just plain wrong headed. Even a business that is at the top of its game operationally can suffer if it has misguided, ill-conceived or poorly executed branding. Branding is not just a single activity. It’s not something that one does upon starting their business and then leaves to its own devices. It’s an ongoing process which must be stitched into the fabric of everything you do.
Here we’ll look at some brand building mistakes that can actually do your business more harm than good…
Neglecting your brand’s promise
A brand is more than just a visual identity for your business. It also makes a promise to your customers. It should imply a certain standard of product or of service, it should imply a way in which your customers should expect to be treated and the ethos with which you do business. Your brand may promise to be luxurious and prestigious, relaxed laid back and hassle free or cool trendy and cutting edge. Whatever your brand promise it should be at the heart of every aspect of your business’ operations.
The trouble is that many nascent businesses come to the table with a lot of lofty ideals that are quickly jettisoned when they find themselves grappling with the operational aspects of running a business. Standards are dropped and the promise of the brands is either not followed through properly or abandoned altogether.
Needless to say, your brand’s promise can only work if it’s reflected in everything your business does. In every customer interaction, every query response and every unit sold, in your online presence and in your physical premises. If you don’t follow through on it, you can’t expect your brand to resonate with your customers as strongly as it should.
Inconsistency across different platforms
The key to good branding is consistency. Think of Coca Cola and what springs to mind? That distinctive lettering, the red and white color scheme and the white and silver swisl. Starbucks; the green and white mermaid, McDonalds; the golden arches. The reason why these images spring to our minds so readily is because they’re so ubiquitous. You should apply this same mentality to your own branding. It should be used consistently across all different platforms and media. If your branding uses different coloring, a different logo or a different slogan on your Facebook and Twitter accounts or if the color scheme on your website is completely at odds with what’s on your walls and furniture in your premises this can compromise the efficacy of your brand. It’s easy to brush this off or treat it as though it doesn’t matter. But it really does.
Keeping it all in house
As the guiding force behind your business, nobody knows your brand better than you. Nobody lives and breathes, eats and sleeps your brand’s values like you do and absolutely nobody has a greater personal attachment to your brand. So, by that logic you should handle all aspects of branding yourself, right? Well… Not necessarily. While nobody may share your knowledge and passion for your brand there are people out there who know your prospective customers even better than you, no matter how meticulously you’ve carried out your market research. While the idea of entrusting your brand to an outside agency may feel like entrusting your child to a neighbor whom you’ve never met, it can often be the best way to ensure that your brand has the optimal impact for your target audience. Branding consultants can help to tweak your brand to ensure greater reach and engagement across your target market without compromising the vision and ideals upon which it’s based. They can correct any mistakes you have unknowingly been making and ensure that your brand is every bit as powerful and resonant as it deserves to be.
Getting content marketing wrong
Content is still king, but some new entrepreneurs have it all backwards when it comes to their content marketing strategy. They use it simply as a means of boosting their SEO and as such make one of two glaring errors. They either tweak their content to make it more appealing to search engine crawlers than human readers or (worse still) sacrifice quality for quantity, churning out 3-5 pieces of low quality, poorly researched and hastily written content outsourced from overseas content farms.
Remember that the purpose of content marketing is to give your brand a voice and build value for your customers. An organic boost in SEO is a nice side effect of this, but it shouldn’t be the endgame. Your content should be engaging, well written and provide a level of insight and knowledge that only you can provide. This is one of the best ways in which to position yourself above your competitors because your brand has something they can never have… You!
Your content marketing strategy should allow you to contribute content yourself on a regular basis but even if you don’t have the human resources to entrust the rest t a member of your team, you should at least outsource to an agency that uses talented writers.
Failing to capitalize on your sustainability
You’re a business with an environmentally aware ethos. You’re very aware of the delicate environmental balance that all contemporary businesses must achieve in their operations and everything you do is done with sustainability in mind. But you don’t want to call too much attention to this. You’re doing it for the planet, not the accolades. Yet, if you don’t put your commitment to sustainability front and center in your branding, eco-conscious consumers may end up passing you by. And in an age where a third of all consumers cite sustainability as a priority for them, your brand needs to wear its green credentials proudly on its sleeve.
Don’t let these commonly made branding mistakes keep your business from fulfilling its true potential.
Featured Image from Shutterstock