7 Common Branding Mistakes You’re Making
Building up your brand is essential to continued growth and visibility as a business. Yet, it’s easy to make branding mistakes if you don’t have a strong brand identity and brand strategy. By addressing these common branding mistakes, you can grow a brand without losing your authenticity as a business.
1. Not Having a Brand Strategy
This one seems obvious. Some may think that branding just falls into place as long as they are providing value to a loyal audience. Not having a clearly defined brand strategy becomes problematic when strategic pivots need to be made.
For example, leadership changes, or when a brand fails to meet expectations, or when a new competitor comes into the market. This is when the lack of a north star for the brand has the greatest consequences.
Knowing your brand’s unique solution, mission, vision, projected path, and audience allows you to tackle change and know when to invest.
Key Elements of a Brand Strategy
Consider these questions as you develop your brand strategy to maximize your customer mission and audience awareness.
- Why the brand exists: purpose, vision, and core values
- How the brand approaches the market
- Who is the ideal audience?
- How does the brand compare to other choices and uniquely solve for the audience’s needs?
- How will the target audience discover this brand in the marketplace?
- The strategic activation elements of the brand
- The personality of the brand
- How the brand engages and resonates with the audience after they achieve awareness
2. Underinvesting in Branding
Only you can decide on the right mix of brand awareness and the direct marketing needed to accomplish your short- and long-term objectives. Yet, key factors should include your business health and your brand maturity.
If you are considering reducing your brand spending because of economic uncertainty ahead, think twice. In fact, influential leaders would say this may be the perfect time to go on the offensive. As others choose to slow down on awareness spending, you have even more of an opportunity to stand out as a thought leader if you lean into this moment.
This is the time to make bold choices to get your name into earned media, to submit for industry awards, and to step up engagement with your existing customers to ensure that your brand and its value are top of mind.
3. Over-Emphasizing Brand Design Elements
Brilliant colors and a strong logo can work very hard for a brand. However, let’s be honest, the experiences that come next have the heavy lift. Some of these include your website, your store if you have one, your content and media assets, and your customer-facing employees.
The caution here is not to use up most of the energy on the brand identity design work and leave other important brand elements without the attention they deserve.
4. Forgetting Your People are Your Brand
One approach is to create a map of all the interactions your audience has with people connected to your brand, whether that be with the customer service team at the front counter, the cleaning staff, or the president of the company.
Every experience should be consistent with your brand, which means offering constant training and coaching reinforcement for staff best practices.
The other area you may overlook has to do with spokespeople. As a leader, you may be the hidden gem your company needs to build its brand. Promoting you as a thought leader can work harder to build the brand and drive awareness and growth. This is because people want to buy from people
It’s the person behind the brand, and the relationship, that ultimately matters in most cases. Look for opportunities to bring your brand to life with a leader or leaders who represent what your brand stands for and who can build Authority that lasts.
5. Choosing Trends Over Brand Authenticity
This one is huge. How many leadership discussions have you been in where someone brings a new idea to the table that they read about another brand using or that represents a consumer trend catching attention?
There is not a doubt that you want to have your ear to the ground about emerging trends that have application to your brand. And sometimes it will pay off to emulate a good idea that is consistent with your brand, but it always pays to ask whether this is going to come across as authentic and consistent with what your brand stands for.
This brings us back to the first common branding mistake. You must have a brand strategy in place to serve as that north star.
6. Failure to Evolve Your Brand Strategy
Yes, consistency is a best friend of a brand. However, sometimes the brand strategy needs to be tested and prodded to determine whether it remains relevant or needs to develop.
There will be little things worth refining every year to ensure the brand strategy is growing with the market, audience, and the brand itself. I recommend an annual checkup of a brand strategy, even if not one word changes. At a minimum, that’s a reinforcement opportunity.
When a major environmental or brand moment occurs, you may make more than a minor change. Don’t hesitate to make it.
Note: you may benefit from consulting an external, trusted source to help you see misalignments or opportunities that may be difficult to recognize from the inside out.
7. Undervaluing the opportunity to use your brand to take a stand.
Today’s consumer is more interested in making a purchase from a brand that shares their values and beliefs. Your audience cares about what you and your brand stand for, so make it clear.
You can look for opportunities to stand out in ways that are consistent with how your brand improves the environment around you, even on a local scale.
You can start with a content and PR strategy that connects all that you are doing with noted observances and trending topics. Create an owned media strategy that allows you to get your message out — without muffling it with another brand’s agenda. This gives you the best opportunity to be authentic and make the most of branding opportunities.
Ultimately, brands are, like people, a work in progress. Healthy brands invest continuously in tracking and cultivating their Authority in their marketplace. For more on this topic, download our book Authority Marketing or connect with us for a consultation on how we can help.