What do Coca-Cola, Nike, and Target have in common? A meticulously crafted customer experience that is enhanced by impeccable branding integrated throughout their website, social media accounts, and marketing materials.
Branding will define a business' future. Many new businesses hesitate to invest in branding because it is perceived to be less important for companies of smaller size. However, this perception couldn't be more wrong, and it's time every business recognizes this.
In a competitive marketplace where there are millions of business targeting the same audience, branding is what sets one business apart from all the rest.
When done correctly, it can increase a business' value, create a positive perception about it, set up a direction and motivate the team, increase customers, and build brand loyalty. Set your business up for success and invest in your branding from the start. Here are 3 of the most common branding mistakes and how to avoid them:
1. Your Logo is not your Brand
We are not trying to undermine the effectiveness of a logo, but a brand is much more than that. A logo is a visual representation of a business; however, a brand is an emotional experience that people get when they interact with a business at any level. While a logo is everyone's first impression of a business, the brand encompasses everything that comes to mind when consumers think of that business, whether that be its colors, typography, tone, customer service, or anything else they have experienced in relation to that business.
So, why spend the money to have a great logo designed?
While a logo is not your entire brand, it is representative of it. People are more likely to do business with a professional brand. A logo should be able to portray that. It should be simple, memorable, versatile, appropriate and timeless; crafted to visually represent the brand as a whole.
2. Not Developing a Brand Identity
What makes a business unique? A brand identity. This essential piece of branding encompasses the who, where, what, and why of your brand, thus determining what sets you apart from your competitors.
People don’t tend to have relationships with products, but rather, their loyalty is to the business’ promises and core values. A business that doesn’t know its core values is doomed from the start. Here are some questions that will help you define who you are as a brand:
- What’s your “why?" (Your mission)
- What beliefs drive your business? (Your values)
- What makes your business different from the competition? (Your unique positioning)
- If your brand was a person, how would it communicate? (Your brand voice)
- If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would they have? (Your brand personality)
These essential questions will define your brand, allowing you to forge the connection with your customers, build customer loyalty, and determine how your customers will perceive your brand.
3. Misusing Brand Style Guidelines
Once you have a clear direction of your brand, a style guide will help you establish all your business' visual elements to use across all platforms. Consistency is key when it comes to branding. If a business delivers inconsistent messaging or visuals, it will cause confusion and lead their customers to lose trust in them. For this reason, it is important to not only have a brand style guide, but to ensure that every piece of messaging falls in line with that guide.
Style guides should include (but are not limited to):
- Your brand story
- Logos and icons--and when and how to use each
- Color palettes
- Typography hierarchy
- Brand voice
- Imagery and illustrations
Set the rules on how to use your brand assets to guarantee uniformity in every marketing effort. The more descriptive you are in your style guide, the more consistent your brand can be overall, allowing your customers to have the best experience possible.
There are many factors that go into starting a new business, so many in fact that some of them tend to get overlooked. While branding may be perceived as one of the lesser tasks to put money or effort into, it is crucial to invest in up front in order to avoid even more costly mistakes down the line. Investing in your branding will allow for better brand recognition, brand consistency, and a better overall brand experience for your consumers.