Let me tell you, one of the reasons I am so passionate about branding and design is because I have made mistakes along the way. BIG mistakes! But in business and life, the best I could hope for was to learn from those mistakes. And now the best thing I can do is pass that knowledge on to you in the hopes that you can learn from my mistakes (and maybe your own) and start to see your brand really take off and your bank account grow.
So let’s jump into the biggest branding mistakes that I see most often.
I get it, I really do. Sometimes you start your business on a shoestring budget and branding may be the last thing you want to spend money or time on. But believe me when I say this… it’s worth the investment of both.
Your logo is usually the first impression anyone has of your business. It needs to represent your business in every way. It needs to stand out and draw attention. It needs to be as unique as you are.
Have you ever been on a job interview? Of course, you have so you know that the first impression is the most important one you can make. If you show up in dirty wrinkled clothes chances are your interviewer will form the impression that you’re lazy. It may be the furthest thing from the truth. Maybe you just got off work from another job and didn’t have time to change, but once that impression is made… it’s made. Not that you can’t overcome that obstacle but you just made things 10 times harder than they should be.
The same thing can be said for your business’s logo. If it’s difficult to read, the wrong file size, or doesn’t suit your business then chances are you’re not making the best first impression. And you can never get that moment back.
Oh, and don’t go out and purchase a pre-made logo for $50. Chances are if you like the logo so do a thousand other businesses and you’ll just end up replacing it down the road. So my best advice, when it comes to logos, is hiring a designer to help you out. Let us help you make a great first impression. Think of us as your stylist, we are here to dress your business.
I know enough about graphic design to get by with the bulk of my branding, but even I have limitations. For instance… I am not a photographer and very rarely do I take my own photos. I know how to point and shoot but I don’t understand the science behind aperture and ISO (those may be the same things… I’m just not sure). So for me letting someone else handle my photos is what’s best for my brand.
The same thing goes for you, my handy dandy DIY-er. There are probably parts of your branding that you can handle on your own but chances are there are areas it would be best to leave to a professional who specializes in that area.
Besides not knowing it all most of us just aren’t physically capable of doing it all. Don’t add more stress when you don’t have to. “But hiring a designer is expensive!” Trust me when I say this… there are plenty of designers out there to suit any budget. Just ask around for references and you might find one who is willing to work with you and your budget.
I have seen more and more of this in recent years. I call it “me too” branding. You are out on social media or surfing the interwebs and see your competition is knocking it out of the park. I mean a grand slam Insta-feed and blog. So you may be tempted to try and emulate what they’re doing in the hopes that it will bring some of those followers or clients your way. Don’t do it! Just don’t do it!
Remember that your business is unique and your branding should reflect that.
I have a complete addiction to and a very large collection of fonts. I think most designers collect fonts like lost puppies. We like a font, we buy it, we may never use it, but at least it won’t be suffering all alone out there in cyberspace.
You may be the same way, but that doesn’t mean use every font you’ve ever liked in your branding. Using too many fonts looks disjointed and can be really off-putting in design. A good rule of thumb is to pick 2-3 great fonts and stick with them. Just make sure they work together and have enough contrast to draw the readers eye.
And for the love of all things sacred in design don’t use Comic Sans on anything. I mean it, just stay away from this font. Oh, and try to not use generic fonts on the important stuff, like your logo and headings in your copy.
I’m one to talk about this. In my first three months, I had already rebranded once. I mean complete redo. Start over, do not pass go! But it was in my first few weeks of launching and I just didn’t love the message I was sending with my brand. It wasn’t bad… it just wasn’t fully representing my business.
Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you should never rebrand your business. There are certain instances when it’s necessary to rebrand. If your business changes directions or niche you might want to consider rebranding. Just don’t switch up your brand every other week. Otherwise, your audience will get confused. Besides, every brand takes time to fully develop and grow so if you switch it up too often you’re never giving your brand a chance to catch fire, go viral or whatever it is you want it to do.
If you do happen to get the urge to change things don’t go full-on rebrand. Make some minor changes and see if it makes you fall in love with your brand again. Switch up your homepage layout, redesign your business cards… those types of things don’t cost you an arm and a leg to change. So start there and if you really want to rebrand after that… give your audience a heads up so they don’t abandon ship.
You know what your business’ mission is right? If not, I think it’s time to define your mission because this is very important to running a small business. Your mission is what your business is hoping to accomplish for your audience. If your business was a superhero what would it’s superpower be?
To know why having a clear message is important let’s do a little exercise:
Let’s look at Bill’s Auto Repair (I totally just made this up off the top of my head so if this is your business name I’m not referring to you… unless you do these things. Then I’m totally calling you out). Bill’s Auto Repair offers its customers competitive pricing and fast service on all standard car maintenance. Bill has decided that he wants to start an Instagram account for his business. So Bill starts posting photos of his adorable Shih Tzu puppy named Zeke, his new lawn mower, and occasionally he will drop in an Instagram only offer of $5 off an oil change. Bill also decided to start a blog. He writes post after post about little Zeke and his puppy potty training adventures. Do you see a problem with this?
If Bill takes his brand mission seriously then so will his clients. I’m not saying don’t post photos of your dog, lawn mower or write about said dog. What I’m saying is make sure that whatever you post, write or create is designed to get your businesses message to your audience. If your new lawn mower breaks after you run over a tree root link it to your business. If you can’t don’t post it.
This is hands down, bar none, the biggest mistake you can make with your branding. Inconsistency can and probably will kill your business. I’m not being dramatic on this. If this is the only thing you get out of this post then I will have done my job and passed on the key ingredient to branding success.
So why is consistency so darn important?
Consistency is what is going to make your brand a household name. Consistency in visuals and message is what’s going bring in new leads and generate more revenue. If any mistake can cost you money… this is the one.
It’s important to know your business from the inside out. And once you have that knowledge then everything you do, say, or create should fit your brand.
Okay, so that’s the list of mistakes I see most often in branding, and I’ve made most of them. So how can you fix these mistakes or keep yourself from making them in the first place?
Don’t do it all yourself. If that means hiring a brand developer, like myself, do it. The investment you make will pay off in more leads, more revenue, and less stress for yourself. Oh, and it will free up more of your time to do the things you excel at.
Find your message and stick to it. Remember your brand is a story and you have to tell it in a way that connects your audience to your business.
Give your brand a chance to flourish. Don’t switch things up too often or you face losing your audience. Rebrand your business when it no longer represents the heart of your business.
Did you see any mistakes you’re making in your branding? If so how do you plan on correcting them?