10 Branding Mistakes You Can NOT Afford to Make

Tuesday November 15, 2016 comments Tags: Marketing, product creation, Copywriting, Lead attraction, Client attraction, graphic design, Content marketing, Public relations, Business planning, Social media, Branding

Today's blog post is brought to you by guest writer Niraj Ranjan Rout.

For a coach or entrepreneur, your brand is one of your most valuable distinction points. It makes you unique and sets you apart from other similar businesses offering similar services.

In short, it answers the most important question your customers tend to ask: ‘Why should I choose you?’.

"Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business."
   - Steve Forbes

You must make sure that your brand captures the soul of your company and the essence of what you are setting out to do for your customer.

As rewarding as creating a successful brand can be, it can be just as dangerous if you end up building the wrong kind of image. One single mistake can set you miles back.

Here are a few mistakes businesses make which adversely affect their brand image:

1. Terrible aesthetics

Your brand aesthetic is, in short, the visual representation of your business.

Consider brands like Apple and Nike. They put extra emphasis on visual appeal, be it the logo or the product itself.

Why is this important?

Because most customers judge a book by its cover, and having a crappy-looking website is not going to be in your favor AT ALL.

Here are some examples of mistakes you should avoid:

Brand logos are very important. 

From my personal experience, I had done a lot of research when designing the logo for my startup. Here are three important takeaways and lessons I learned from that process:

  • Your logo must be easy to remember.
  • It has to be aesthetically pleasing. Generally, minimalistic designs do well.
  • It has signify what your company stands for. For instance, the logo for my startup, Hiver, is in the shape of a hive to represent effective collaboration.

2. Bad Tagline

Bad or silly, both can be just as damaging.

Consider the slogan Dr. Pepper came up with: “It’s not for women”. I wonder whether they were trying to win customers or lose them?! Here are some more examples of such incredibly silly mistakes.

Anyway, taglines are just as important as your brand logo. The purpose of a tagline is to describe your company or product in one single line. A boring tagline is very unattractive; a bad tagline can break your brand. 

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be creative, or that you should just play it safe. Creative and quirky taglines, if done well, are always good. Just ensure that it’s not offending anyone.

3. Not working on your brand mix

A branding mix consists of all the relevant marketing activities like PR, digital marketing, word of mouth, social media, etc., and the weight each of these channels have.

Companies with budget and time constraints cannot spend too much time or money on branding, so it’s important to determine which branding activities you’ll spend more on, and which are a lower priority.

For example, it doesn’t make sense for startups to invest truckloads of money in commercial advertising, so for them, digital marketing may be a better idea.

4. Trying to be Switzerland

Do you want to strengthen your brand? Well, then speak up, take a stand, and let everybody see you fight for something.

It probably is safer to take a neutral stand when there is an issue. But get this, in a study ran using Qualtrics, it was found that Americans are 8.1% more likely to purchase from a company that shares their opinions, and are 8.4% less likely to purchase from a company that doesn’t.

Your opinions may create anti-fans, but they will also create fans for you.

5. Inconsistency

Many studies have shown the benefits of brand awareness on buyer behavior. More brand awareness is linked to buyers considering products as being of higher quality.

Brand awareness, when combined with a good public image, can increase consumer loyalty to that brand. 

And, high brand awareness is linked to increased trust and purchase intention. But if your brand image or messaging constantly changes, it’s hard for consumers to follow and recognize it.

6. Copying Ideas 

A suit filed in May 1997 argued that Amazon's advertised claim to be "Earth's biggest bookstore" infringed on Barnes and Noble's slogan, "World's largest bookseller".

This is just one of the many lawsuits filed for copying ideas from other businesses. Apple vs Samsung ring any bells?

Well, maybe if you are a giant well-established industry, you can get away with the negative effects of copying, but most businesses can’t. Their reputation falls behind because no one really likes idea-stealers, definitely not in aspects like brand logos and taglines.

7. Quantity over quality

"It’s better to have fewer things of quality than too much expendable junk."
  - Rachel Zoe

As a brand, quality is the first label you must earn to strengthen your value. Take, for example, content marketing. Many companies just overload their website with loads of content, thinking that that will promote their brand name, but in this process, they sacrifice quality.

If you want people to like you, you have to offer more than what others are offering, which in this instance is quality.

Quality articles, quality tweets, quality infographics, quality everything!

8. Forgetting that branding is an everyday deal

Every day, every single complaint, every single piece of feedback, every single customer builds your brand. In the end, you cannot have a strong brand just by having a cool-looking logo or a catchy tagline. It has to be more than that.

At Starbucks, if I don’t like my drink, I can ask them to fix it no matter how many times and it’s the same every day, no matter what time of the day or which customer, they always stick to this rule.

Your brand value should be felt in how you deal with your user complaints, how you solve a problem, how you treat employees, and every other small and big aspect of your business.

9. Not tracking results

Early on in the article, I talked about determining your branding mix. You need to understand that this branding mix doesn’t really stay constant; you must keep tweaking and adjusting it depending on your results. 

Are you seeing more results via TV commercials than internet marketing for one of your products? Then focus more on TV commercials.

With both marketing and branding, change is the only constant, and you can move in the right direction by always using your results as your indicators.

10.  Reactive/impulsive decisions, as opposed to proactive

You see a copycat in the market stealing your ideas, or a competitor who is bad mouthing you, or a customer trying to tarnish your reputation even though it’s not your fault.

What should you do?!

An impulsive tweet or a comment from you, for example, will affect you more than anyone else, since you are a business owner. What you did in a moment of anger can stay there, as a part of your digital footprint, for a long time.

Take the high road. I am not saying you shouldn’t deal with them or that you should ignore them, but you should take counter-measures carefully without tarnishing your own image. 

"You now have to decide what 'image' you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace."
   -  David Ogilvy

About the Author:

Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool.