Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of consumers buying online has skyrocketed.
As a result, competition in the online marketplace has become fiercer than ever.
To stay competitive, businesses are encouraged to include their brand score among the KPI metrics they should measure so they can determine their brand’s reputation and equity across all channels.
And while most marketers understand that brand marketing is essential, many don’t realize they’re committing mistakes that are hurting their businesses and their brand.
In this blog post, I’ll share 25 of the most common branding mistakes businesses make and tips on fixing them.
Branding Mistake #1: Refusing to Admit There’s a Problem with Your Branding
Before you can make any kind of change, you first need to be fully convinced that there’s a reason to do so.
That’s why of all the different branding mistakes that’ll be listed here, this is what I’d consider the most common, the most dangerous, and the most difficult one to fix.
There are several reasons why a person won’t admit they’re wrong or there’s a problem, especially if that person either owns the business or holds a key position. Some fear they’ll be demoted or fired. Others deal with a severe case of low self-esteem.
Sticking to the facts and data when explaining that there’s a problem with your branding can help. But there will still be some people that will still refuse to acknowledge it, especially if they’re the ones who instigated the initiative.
The key to resolving this branding mistake lies in the way how you deliver the message.
Instead of saying, “we got a problem with our branding,” present this within the context of a growth experiment.
That way, you get the decision-makers to buy into your suggestions without them feeling you’re stepping on their ego.
The quick wins resulting from the “experiment” will also make them more receptive to doing this on a much larger scale.
Branding Mistake #2: No Clear Understanding of What Branding Means
For many businesses, branding is limited to their name, logo, brand colors, and the fonts they use. But it’s much more than that.
Branding refers to anything and everything you communicate about your business to everyone you come across.
The last part of the definition is the clincher because it tells you that communicating your brand shouldn’t just be your target customers. It should be to everyone in your organization, too, from the top executives to the newest hires.
Only when everyone understands what branding is and why it’s crucial can you start building a solid brand for your business.
Branding Mistake #3: Assuming That Marketing and Branding are The Same
Branding and marketing share overarching goals and often used together that it’s understandable why many business owners—and even marketers—assume that they’re the same.
The AMA defines marketing this way:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Simply put, marketing focuses on the processes and strategies you use to communicate something valuable to your target audience.
Branding, on the other hand, focuses on what message you want to share.
Branding Mistake #4: Branding = Company Logo
I’ve already touched on this earlier. However, this branding mistake is worth digging deeper into for two reasons.
First, they assume that they’ve already created their business brand once they got a logo designed.
The second is that they’d do things the other way around. They’d start working on their logo first and then develop things like their mission, vision, values, and principles after.
Both approaches are wrong because a logo is meant to be a visual representation of your brand. It should also tell the story behind your business.
More importantly, every single element that goes your logo should equate to something within your brand message.
A perfect example of a well-designed logo is the icon siren used by Starbucks.
Source: The Design Inspiration
Now, you might be asking yourself: What does the siren have anything to do with Starbucks, let alone coffee?
I asked that same question, too, until I came across this fantastic article on Starbucks’ website that explains in great detail why they chose the siren for their logo and how she connects with Starbucks’ brand message.
Starbucks’ Creative Director, Steve Murray, gives a more concise explanation about this in the video below.
Branding Mistake #5: Not Having a Unique Value Proposition
Most—if not all—businesses have a value proposition. This is what your customers will get when they buy your products or services.
However, many businesses don’t have a unique value. In most cases, what they consider to be a unique value proposition is similar—if not precisely the same—as another business.
Take Bombas, for example.
The unique value proposition to their target customers is that they’ll donate the same piece of clothing you buy to the underprivileged members of society.
While their value proposition is noble and should be supported, it isn’t unique because this was the same value proposition that Tom’s Shoes promoted way back in 2006 through its One for One business model.
You can ensure that your business’ value proposition is truly unique by asking yourself one simple question: Why did you start your business?
In Tom’s Shoes’ case, the founders started the business not to sell shoes. Instead, they started it to improve the lives of other people. This became the company’s overarching mission and dictated everything that they did.
Branding Mistake #6: Being Like Everyone Else
While there’s nothing wrong with studying the branding strategies of successful businesses, it should never reach the point where your brand looks very similar to someone else’s.
Remember, well-thought-out branding sticks in the minds of the people who come across it.
A better way of approaching this is to study how these businesses did their branding strategy. Then, take the best parts and use these as a mere guide on how to formulate your own by injecting your personality, voice, and branding message.
Branding Mistake #7: Trying Too Hard to be Someone You’re Not
Customers are losing faith and trust in brands.
The reason? These brands didn’t deliver what they promised.
That’s why the last thing you’d want to do is to create a branding strategy that isn’t closely tied to who you are as a business.
Not only will this help make your brand more unique, but it’ll also ensure that you stay authentic to your customers. In turn, you’ll win their trust, and they’ll be more willing to buy from you.
Branding Mistake #8: Not Having a Clear Brand Marketing Strategy
Having a clear brand marketing strategy also ensures that your brand stays consistent in your marketing channels. This is crucial because 90% of customers expect to get the same look and experience from your company regardless of which channel they find you.
If you want your business to stand out from your competitors, you need to effectively communicate who you are, what you stand for, and why they should buy from you. That will only come if you take the time to develop a brand marketing strategy that’s clear enough for your entire team to understand and implement.
Branding Mistake #9: You Didn’t Do Your Research
Studies show that businesses that base their decisions on data and research scale faster and are more profitable than those that don’t.
Source: Hinge Marketing
Researching implementing any kind of brand marketing ensures that the brand you’ll develop will resonate with your customers. It can also help you identify your business’ unique value proposition so you can effectively set yourself apart from your competitors.
Branding Mistake #10: Focusing Too Much on Aesthetics
Yes, your logo and other brand visual elements must be attractive and eye-catching. But if you focus too much on this, you’ll end up with a superficial brand.
Remember, your logo and other visual elements should still relay other parts of your brand, like your core values and principles. This will help your business’ overall branding significantly impact your target customers and make you more memorable.
Branding Mistake #11: Focusing Too Much on Analytics
While it’s true that data analytics can help build a solid brand for your business, relying too much on data analytics also means that you’re missing out on perhaps the most critical component—the emotional factor.
Although many customers would want to believe that they use logic when they make their buying decisions, the reality is that they’re all emotional buyers.
This was what Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman discovered after conducting a series of studies on how consumers make buying decisions.
That’s why you need to ensure that it touches your customers’ feelings. This is what will help make your brand memorable and appealing to them.
Branding Mistake #12: There’s a Disconnect Between Your Brand and Your Content
In 1982, Colgate decided to venture into the frozen food industry by launching a line of frozen foods called the Colgate Kitchen Entrees.
Source: 24/7 Wall St
It’s now considered one of the biggest branding mistakes of all time, and it’s not hard to see why.
Before this venture, Colgate already built a solid and reputable brand within the oral care industry. However, Colgate’s decision left even its most avid users scratching their heads in confusion by choosing to enter a completely different niche from the industry in which it built its brand.
This is why it’s crucial to ensure that every piece of content and product your business puts out remains consistent with your overall branding.
Branding Mistake #13: The Branding Guidelines Aren’t Written Down
This is one of the key reasons why many businesses have inconsistent branding.
Documenting a set of guidelines ensures that everyone knows and understands your branding as you scale your business.
It also guides employees across all departments so that every campaign aligns with your branding.
So if your business still doesn’t have a documented set of guidelines, make sure to create them immediately and cover the following areas:
- Logo usage
- Tone, voice, and messaging
- Color schemes
- Visuals and imagery
- Fonts and typography
- Mission and Vision statements
- Core Values and Principles
Branding Mistake #14: Lack of Communication Across Your Company
No matter how big your company is or how long it’s been in existence, never assume that your employees understand by heart what your brand represents.
Unfortunately, this is a common mistake that many business owners make, justifying that new hires are adequately equipped with all the resources they need to know and understand the company’s brand.
However, if you want to effectively communicate your brand to your customers, you must first do this with your employees.
Because, as one study shows, 30% of your customers are more willing to trust what your employees say.
On the other hand, only 19% of your customers will trust branded content you publish on social media, while a measly 11% will trust what the company’s CEO will say.
Source: Marketing Charts
That said, make it a point to schedule a meeting where you, as the business owner, can personally communicate and share your brand.
This allows you to weed out any wrong assumptions and misinterpretations of your brand among your employees.
Taking the time to meet with your employees personally makes them feel valued and a part of the team. As a result, they’ll become more proactive in ensuring that your company’s branding is well-communicated across all channels.
Branding Mistake #15: No Consistency Across All Digital Channels
On average, it takes around eight touchpoints to convert a lead into a customer.
In today’s digital marketplace, these touchpoints don’t only happen on your website. It also includes other channels like social media, directory listings, and your brick-and-mortar store (if you have one).
If you want your brand marketing to be successful, you need to make sure that you provide your customers with the same user experience in all of your digital channels.
Here are some suggestions:
- The name of your website and social media handles to match your website.
- Maintain the same visual elements across all your social media profiles.
- Keep the details about your company like your business hours and contact information the same.
Branding Mistake #16: Skimping on Your Logo Design
Again, this branding mistake results from many business owners and marketers not understanding the role logos play in your brand marketing strategy.
Your logo is the visual representation of your brand messaging. Therefore, it should be able to clearly convey who you are and what your brand stands for.
Nowadays, you can quickly design a logo without having to hire a professional graphic designer. Platforms like TailorBrands allow you to develop a logo that looks stunning while effectively conveying your business’ overall brand messaging.
Some of the logos created using TailorBrand’s logo designer platform. Source: TailorBrands
What’s great about this platform is that you can download a copy of your logo to use in your mockups for free. Only when you’re happy with this and need the high-resolution versions of your logo will you need to pay.
Branding Mistakes #17: Relying on the Latest Trends to Develop Your Business’ Brand
Just like with clothes and diets, trends come and go.
If you base your business’ branding on what’s trendy now, you risk creating a brand that will become tired and outdated in the long run. Often, the only recourse is to rebrand your business, and this isn’t simple or cheap!
Not only will you have to allocate a significant amount of resources to rebrand your business, but it can also negatively affect your site rankings, making it harder for your customers to find you.
What’s more, rebranding is viewed by consumers in a negative light because of the common reasons why a business would rebrand. This can eventually result in them losing faith and trust in your business and leave.
Branding Mistake #18: Being a People Pleaser
If you think that toning down some aspects of your business will get you more customers, think again!
Trying to adjust your brand constantly to come across as appealing to potential customers can leave them feeling confused. It’ll also make your business appear unstable, unsure, even wishy-washy.
Instead, focus on building relationships with your customers and those that match your buyer persona.
Branding Mistake #19: You’re Okay with Being a Copycat
Sad, but true. There are several businesses out there that built their brands by merely copying the brand elements used by other companies.
This is risky because it can confuse your target customers and those of the company whose branding you copied.
Worst, you can find yourself facing a costly lawsuit that can negatively affect your business.
Take these two logos, for example.
Source: Creative Bloq
At first glance, you might think these are versions of the PayPal logo. But they’re not.
The logo on the right is the new logo rolled out by the music streaming service Pandora (not to be confused with the jewellery brand).
True enough, the close resemblance of the companies’ logos brought about so much confusion among their customers that PayPal filed a lawsuit against Pandora in 2017.
Branding Mistake #20: Alienating Your Target Market
There are several ways how this happens.
First, business owners and marketers only perceive their brand marketing through their eyes, not through the customers’ eyes. This results in a massive gap in your brand perception.
Another way is through the content they publish on their marketing channels. Unfortunately, many marketers focus on posting content that targets one section of their marketing funnel (usually at the Decision Stage). As a result, leads in either the top or middle of the marketing funnel feel their needs are ignored.
Then there’s the user experience provided. I’m sure you’ve experienced some companies’ quality of customer service significantly change the moment you became a customer.
That said, make sure you’re meeting the needs of your target market, regardless of where they are in your buyer’s journey. Only then will you convert them into customers and prevent them from switching to one of your competitors.
Branding Mistake #21: Having a Vague Online Brand
Including industry jargon and catchphrases in your brand message can make you sound intelligent and unique. But if your target customers don’t get the message you’re trying to convey, it won’t make your brand memorable.
The best approach for this is by using short sentences and everyday words in your messaging. This makes it easier for your customers to understand what your business is all about. It also makes your brand easier to remember.
Branding Mistake #22: Making Your Online Brand Too Complex
When developing your online brand marketing strategy, it’s easy to go overboard and incorporate many variables into the mix.
Doing this can easily overwhelm your team, making it very difficult for them to keep your branding consistent across all channels.
The best way to develop your online brand marketing strategy is to start small and keep things simple. Then, slowly build things up. This will make it easier for your team to grow accustomed to the standards that you’d want to implement.
Branding Mistake #23: You Keep Making Changes to Your Branding Elements
Making frequent changes to your business’ brand will leave your customers confused.
It’s also going to frustrate your team, who have worked hard with developing and implementing your marketing campaigns to target the customers you initially wanted to reach.
Worst, it gives them the impression that you don’t know what business you want to build.
If you’re just starting out with your business, make sure that you’re 101% certain of every aspect of your business, from your mission and vision of your business to the customers you’d want to target.
Above all, understand that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Building a solid brand and business can take years, regardless of you build it online or offline.
Branding Mistake #24: Being Insensitive to Current Events
Creating ads and other types of content in line with current events can help boost brand awareness.
But if you’re not careful, it can also result in a significant amount of backlash from your target audience.
Perhaps one of the most notable examples of this was the commercial Pepsi launched featuring Kylie Jenner during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Although Pepsi wanted to personify their product—and their brand—as a channel to help reunite the country divided by racial inequality, this wasn’t the message that the viewers got from it.
The backlash from the public, especially the African American community, was so severe that they pulled out the ad 24 hours after it launched. But it was too late. The damage was already done.
In fact, Pepsi’s sales revenue continued to suffer one year after the fiasco, with the number of people who’d consider buying Pepsi dropped to 23%.
Branding Mistake #25: Over Promising and Under Delivering
At the core of what makes business great is the ability to dream big and cast a vision of what could be. But when you cannot deliver on your ideas and promises, your reputation will suffer, which is terrible for you and your business.
Keeping your promises is crucial if you want to maintain trust and grow your business. Therefore, it should be one of your highest priorities.
Breaking your brand promise hurts your customer’s trust and creates a feeling of deception.
Once you lose that reputation, your customers hold grudges, and it’s tough to win them over.
When you follow the brand through with its promises, a loyal and satisfied consumer base will scale, tell friend after friend, and scale your business. A strong brand, on the other hand, inspires people to feel connected to your business.
Are You Guilty of Any of These Branding Mistakes?
The rapper Eminem said it best: “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
In this blog post, we’ve gone through 25 of the common branding mistakes businesses commit. As you’ve seen, it’s not just new businesses that are guilty of making them. Even large and established brands are susceptible to making these mistakes.
The key in ensuring that you minimize—if not eliminate—the chances of you making these same blunders is to ensure that you and everyone in your team should know and understand your branding by heart.
Take the time to carefully document your branding guidelines and make it a strict policy that everyone in your company uses this as their compass before making anything public.
And if you have committed any of these branding mistakes, take the necessary steps to remedy them ASAP. It will take time. But if you do it right, you’ll be able to bounce back and restrengthen your brand.