Marketing relies on branding. It is one of the most fun parts of running a small business, but it is all too easy to make mistakes. Now that small business owners have more marketing options than ever before, it is easy to overlook the importance of branding, and instead rely on social media, newsletters, and word of mouth to attract new customers. If you want to save you and your business a lot of time, money, and energy, it is vital that you avoid the branding mistakes that are all too common. Here are the top blunders made by entrepreneurs when it comes to their branding so that you know what to avoid.
Branding Is Not Marketing
The most common mistake is not taking the time to understand what the difference is between marketing and branding. Branding is what defines your small business, while marketing is the act of making sure that more people are aware of the business. There may be a lot of crossover between the two things, but having a clearer idea of the difference between branding and marketing is critical. The goal should be to build your branding before you even start to think about your marketing.
Going it Alone
You might think that you can do everything yourself when it comes to building the best branding for your business. This is usually the result of not really understanding what branding entails. You might be able to design a logo or write marketing copy in a specific tone of voice, but there is so much work involved in branding that it often requires additional help. You might not need to hire a full-time branding company, but hiring graphic designers to design your logo, a psychologist to help with the brand color scheme, and website builders to ensure that every page of your business website is branded consistently can save you a lot of future headaches.
Wrapped Up In The Logo
Far too many entrepreneurs think of branding and then only think about the logo that is being used. While your logo design is going to be very important, it is not the be-all and end-all of a brand strategy. You need to think about more than just your imagery assets. Your brand’s mission statement, the tone of voice that you use to communicate with your target customer demographics, and even which social media platforms you use, all equate to a more robust brand strategy that will only help you to grow.
The Wrong Tone
There is a fine line between being an edgy brand and being obnoxious. There is a fine line between playing it too safe and becoming bland and forgettable. The tone of voice, which affects everything from logo and strapline to the content on your website, is one of the hardest elements to get right with branding. The way that you speak to your customers should be determined by your target customers. If you are a tech startup that is going to disrupt an entire industry, then you can afford to be a little brash, because investors and customers will be more likely to want to see that confidence and belief in your business. A mom-and-pop store does not have to be bland, but it will be more localized, affecting the language that you use and the cultural references that you make.
Overlooking Brand Guidelines
Branding is not something that you can make a few notes about only to lose that scrap of paper. Every business wanting to accelerate growth needs to use branding, and that means having a clearly defined list of brand guidelines. This can be a single word document or an entire book, but it needs to be accessible by every member of the team. This makes it much easier for new hires or outsourced professionals to get to grips quickly and easily with the rules and guidelines of your brand. The more thorough and explanatory your brand guidelines the better.
One of the most important things to remember about branding is that it has to be consistent. That is why your brand guidelines are so important. The problem is that as a business grows, documents and digital assets can get lost in inboxes or overlooked on cloud platforms. That means more potential for the wrong logo to be added to invoices, or for the wrong color scheme to be used in your email newsletters. Fortunately, brand asset management is made much easier by using the right software. This article by Brandfolder highlights everything that you need to know about digital asset management and how to make it both easier to share with team members and outsourced professionals, but also to monitor brand impact. Fail to use the tools at your disposal and brand consistency will always be harder to manage.
Using The Wrong Brand Relationships
It was not long ago that Disney, one of the most well-branded and well-known businesses in the world, saw intense backlash for branding oranges with Star Wars logos and imagery. This is a great example of when branding goes overboard, and there are plenty of examples of even the biggest brands in the world making that mistake. While you want your branding to be on all of your communications, be careful. For example, it is easy to tie yourself to an online influencer, but what happens if that influencer is arrested for something? Be incredibly careful about the people that you build relationships with and use for marketing, and put the brakes on branding opportunities that have nothing to do with your business or your mission statement.
Even small businesses can sell globally these days. That is great news for brand reach and profit margins, but it also exposes you to cultural mix-ups. It only takes one translation mistake to cause irreparable damage to a brand, and they are far more common than you might think. If you are expanding into new markets, always get advice from locals on the ground. Get them to go through your brand guidelines and to check that your marketing strategy is both relevant and not offensive.
The business landscape is more competitive than ever, and entrepreneurs need to ensure that their business stands out of the crowd. That is where branding really makes its value felt. Take the time to get your branding right, avoid the most common mistakes, and your business will only be stronger.