Do you know one of the most important business tools you can spend your time on?
This tool can make or break your company. If you do it correctly you can have massive success but if you you use it wrong by just the smallest of factors you’ll be lost in a sea of failure.
Branding is easily the most talked about subject when it comes to business. It’s often misunderstood, ever-evolving and something every business has regardless if you focus or not.
It’s the infamous ‘long play’ where your marketing message is combined into a cohesive story that gives the impression of your business. It’s the practice of laying down the expectations you want your prospective customers to get when they first encounter your business.
Your companies brand doesn’t happen over night. However, the future of your business’ sustainability in the minds of your customers depends on it.
The ‘Just of it..’
Most entrepreneurs don’t quite have a grasp on what branding really is or what they should do to build it. Some business owners will talk about their identity in regards to their brand where others will talk about how their products or services as their brand.
In fact, if you ask around you’ll probably get a lot of variations that can get overstated or even confusing. You’re left with answers questions then answers. Stuck in this black hole of wondering exactly what branding means and is.
The easy answer is you’re simply managing your business’ reputation in the face of the expectations your customers have for it.
If you understand what your customers think of your business then you’re in a great position. Your goal throughout the branding process is to make sure they keep thinking of you in that way.
Keep in mind this is the ‘bare-bones’ look at what business branding and there are a lot factors that go into building it. It’s a marathon not a sprint!
Branding is a variation of factors all coming together to make sure your customers think of you when they need your type of business. If a couple of these factors are out of context your business can be headed down the wrong road.
Every business is different but brand principles are relatively the same. Mistakes can be made if you’re not focused on what you want your brand to be and more importantly not to be.
These 10 most common branding mistakes you’ll want to avoid to ensure you’re managing your business reputation.
1) Don’t Confuse The Situation
The basics of business branding revolves around managing its reputation as seen in the eyes of your customers and/or your prospective customers. Understanding this one point and you’ll be ahead of most of your competition.
Keep this in mind when you’re coming up with all of your branding, communications or marketing strategies. You don’t overthink the subject. Start by answering these 4 simple questions?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What do you do?
- How do you do what you do?
- What do you want your customers to say about your company?
If you take a quick search around the internet you’ll an influx of information on brand that can get a little overwhelming. So before you get frustrated or even confused take a step backward and focus on these simple questions.
It’s better to take control of your brand and build the business reputation you want.
When you have these answers on hand you’ll be able to build strategies around them. As your business grows and your brand evolves you can always look back to these answers to make sure your brand is going in the direction you intended.
2) Thinking Your Branding Efforts Stop at Your Logo
Too many businesses make this mistake.
A lot has been written about a business logo when it comes to what it should be or shouldn’t be. A lot companies spend painstakingly time into making sure they have a great logo. When they that perfect logo they think their brand building is done.
This can’t be further from the truth.
The logo does play an important part in the brand building process but it’s not the be all and end all. Your brand building’s focus should revolve around the perception your customers have about your business.
This perception is formed through everything you do and your logo is part of the brand itself rather than the whole. Where the logo comes into play in regards to your brand is by helping your prospect & customers have a recognizable symbol to attach your brand meaning to.
Once they see your logo they know what you do and more importantly it sparks a feeling about your business. The feeling you’ll instill in them from other brand building endeavours.
3) Not Listening to Your Audiences – Or, Not Knowing Your Audience
The most powerful indicator on how solid a brand is, is its customers. They will be the ones telling you whether your brand building efforts are working or not.
They an invaluable source of information about how healthy your business reputation is. Always be looking for the answers to:
- What is your customer’s perception about your business?
- How does the thought of your business make your customers feel?
- What make them purchase from you?
Your customers can provide this important information that you can use in your marketing campaigns moving forward. Use it to compare what is being said about your business with what you want to be known for.
Tweak your actions to get the ideal outcome.
The bonus part of listening to your customers is that you’ll get to know them better and understand how to speak their language. You’ll know when your brand is off track and be able to tweak it just enough to get back on track in a communications format that gets through to your customers.
4) Ignoring Branding in Social Media
About 10 years ago social media stormed on the scene and, in way we all jumped into it blind without even thinking. Since that time there have been a flood of books, blog articles and online courses about the subject.
Yet with all of this information, it’s still amazing how social media marketing get ignored by brands.
As on of the most powerful and free marketing tools a business can use, social media is one of can help you raise the brand awareness of your business if you use it correctly.
Randomly posting on your social media platforms is one thing but without a strategy, behind those posts you may as well be ignoring it.
Having a solid strategy based on measurables behind your social media marketing will help take your marketing game to another level. Not only will it focus what and when you’ll post but it can also uncover target markets that you may have not thought about.
You can gain customers, spread your message to a larger pool of prospective customers and build your brand all through simply using the tool purposely.
Even the platforms themselves will help your brand create a great customer service experience. Simply by responding to your customers in a timely & positive fashion you’ll gain that much needd edge on your competition.
5) Refusing to Change
As human’s, in general, we avoid change like the plague. We enjoy comfortable situations and tend to stay there because it feels safe.
Like humans, a business can fall into the same “comfort-trap” and rely on doing the same tasks when it comes to branding and marketing.
Following these same tactics can be bad for your businesses and can even bury them in the face of competition.
The simple rule is: if it’s not working don’t stick with it!
You should always be monitoring your brand and how it’s perception and reputation changes in the eyes of your customers.
If you find it has changed start looking for way on how it could work better by asking:
- Can you tweak your message to better brand your company?
- Do you need to overhaul everything to re-position and re-brand your business?
Always make a point to take a step back and find out what’s working & what’s not to make the necessary changes.
6) Not Being Consistent
Consistency is a key indicator to your customer’s that your business is one they can rely on.
It will effect the way they think and talk about your company. A strong brand is always building awareness & the kind of trust that leads to loyalty. Consistency across every platform, both online and offline, will show your customers what to expect when interacting with your brand.
When you focus in on where you want to take your brand an emphasis should then be put on applying consistency.
You can start doing this by coming up with brand guidelines that will act as its conscious. Every interaction, message or marketing collateral will follow these guidelines for a more consistent brand. Everyone in your company should understand these guidelines, how they should be applied and follow them when serving the target market.
7) Relying On Trends
Some trends are good, some are bad but one thing’s for sure they will continue to keep coming and going.
While it’s important to keep up with the latest marketing and branding trends to keep up-to-date you shouldn’t be a prisoner to them. If you’re following trend too much you’re risking losing the deep root identity you originally established
When you’re reading up on trends always ask yourself:
- Will this help maintain my brand more effectively?
- Will this help me grow my brand?
- Is this new trend right for my type of industry?
- Why do I need to use this new trend?
If you can answer these questions honestly from the perspective of your brand as it stands today and where you want to take your brand you’ll be in a better position to know if you should use it or not.
Instead of relying on branding trends your focus should be on brand building principles. The tried and true lessons that have always and will always work.
8) Fixing What’s Not Broken
At some point every business falls into the trap of fixing what’s not broken. Maybe you see another business in branding in a way that makes the grass look a little greener on their side. Or, maybe you’re personally bored with your brand and want to change it in someway.
When this happens remember that your brand revolves around the promise you gave your target market and how you delivered them that promise. You shouldn’t be looking for ways to steer away from that promise for the sake of it.
You spent countless hours building a sustainable brand now is not the time to try and fix what’s not broken.
Sure, throughout the time of a business life its brand is ever-evolving but those evolutions are small tweak you make over time.
Sometimes when a brand is working smoothly it may seem like a ‘too good to be true situation,” and we want to change it. This is the moment where you need to take a step back and deep breathe to see your brand for what it is.
9) Not Articulating Your Brand Correctly
Properly articulating your brand is important for you to stand apart from your competition. It’s the who you are and why does it matter part of your brand messages.
Specifically, it’s the most important communications you want your target market to know about your company. It’s not what kind of business you are or what industry you’re in, what they really want to know are the whys:
- Why should they invest in you?
- Why should they trust you?
- Why should they value you?
When properly articulating your brand its important for you to:
- Use words and images that help establish your dedication, talent and skills to what you do
- Look for ways to show how well you do what you do and that it’s your passion
- Speak to your companies values and prove its integrity
- Confidently talk to your customer’s about your business
- Intently listen to what they say back.
When you do this on a consistent basis you’ll be able to understand what your business’ brand is and how to properly articulate to your customers.
10) Poor Internal Messages
One of the biggest factors that can derail your brand is what is being said about it internally. All of your employees must be on the same page when it comes to your brand.
When you develop good internal qualities and values that your employees can get behind it will positively influence your company’s external brand. Always be looking for ways to inspire your employees and involve them in developing your internal brand.
This will engage your employees to better represent your company in positive ways. When they know they are helping your business succeed internally they will accept your brand values to remain true to your when interacting with customers.
The first & last line of defence of your brand is your employees. All areas of the company should have a good grasp of your business’ brand for not only sustainability but growth as well.
Now, don’t get me wrong, branding has a lot more depth than just these 10 mistakes. But, if you take the necessary steps to avoid you’ll be able to have a strong brand that keeps growing.
The stronger the brand is the more success that comes through the door.