Most businesses that understand the importance of developing a ‘brand’ would be wary of these common branding mistakes.
Building a brand isn’t just about creating a fancy-looking logo or website. Your brand is an extension of your corporate personality. Through branding, you are actually making a promise to offer certain value to your customers. It is the one thing which will help you establish a strong connection with your audience. It’s not surprising then, that some of the world’s top brands spend months and years researching competition, demographics and other factors while building their brand story.
7 common branding mistakes you should avoid
1. Don’t be everything to everyone
The reality is that a few people who interact with your brand may not like it. Even the world’s most appreciated brands have their share of haters (though the percentage might be very small). But that should be the last of your worries, as long as you stay true to your story. While creating a brand image, one of the most common branding mistakes people make is failing to focus on building a trusting relationship with a well-defined audience. You must identify their pain areas, and work to offer an effective solution.
For example, ‘Whole Foods’, one of the earliest organic supermarket chains in the US, made foods without preservatives easily available to health-conscious consumers. While the brand has been awarded for its social responsibility initiatives on multiple accounts, it has also faced resistance for promoting its in-house brands over local produce. Nonetheless, it continues to enjoy the support of thousands of patrons and was even taken over by Amazon in 2017.
2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
Forget all the viral campaigns; the true test of your brand is whether a customer has a pleasant experience, irrespective of whether he/she makes a purchase. One of the most common branding mistakes that businesses make, is failing to align the brand experience with the brand promise. Consider this example: your brand messaging could revolve around offering the best possible customer service across the industry. But the success of your brand will depend on whether or not you’re actually providing the brilliant, unmatched customer service you promised.
3. Don’t reinvent your brand too often
Some businesses tend to assume that branding can be the quick solution to all their problems. This means they start focusing on short-term goals and end up feeling frustrated when their branding efforts fail to show any significant results. So even before the brand has its time to develop fully, efforts are withdrawn by the company. This exercise is repeated with the hope of developing a brand which can ultimately help the company grow. What companies don’t realize is that they are actually giving the wrong message to their customers. Constant reinvention indicates that they aren’t really sure about themselves and what they are offering; customers are never able to establish a connection with the brand. Why? Because it keeps changing!
4. Don’t ignore your audience
In reality, branding actually begins with this step: identifying and understanding your target audience. It would be foolish to go ahead and develop messages, taglines and logos that look great but have nothing to do with your target audience. After all, the ultimate goal is to build a base of loyal fans and customers who associate with your company’s values and core philosophy.
In order to understand your target demographic audience, develop a buyer persona. Ask questions such as “What kind of person would my target demographic identify with?” This is the personality which you need to incorporate into your brand.
5. Don’t mimic competition
Why do branding gurus emphasize on researching your competition before undertaking branding for your own company? Well, the reason is simple: you must understand what has already been done by others before you sit down to work on your own brand strategy. This will help you ensure that your brand stands out and makes a distinctive impression on the minds of the audience. Sometimes, you may even get inspired by the branding of a competitor and take key insights to work around your own branding.
At the end of the day, however, it is still important to have a brand personality which is separate from your competition. Use your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to attract customer attention. Work on highlighting clear differentiators so that customers have a solid reason to purchase your products over those of competitors. Your USP could, therefore, serve as the focal point of your branding.
6. Don’t forget the tag line
What is the definition of a “good” tag line? Generally, a good tag line comprises 3 to 6 believable words which complement your core services in addition to having brilliant appeal.
Coming up with an innovative, convincing and relevant tagline may be the hardest part of your branding efforts and could take up a lot of time and thought. Consider the example of Avis. It devised the tagline “We Try Harder” for a good reason. It was trying to tell the audience that the brand knows it isn’t at the top in the industry, but it’s definitely making an effort to beat the biggies. This automatically brought a smile to the face of millions of customers because; let’s admit it, we’ve all been in that place at some point in our lives trying to win against someone or something. Avis, in essence, played the underdog and won a fan following for it!
Think about Nike’s tag line “Just Do It”. What does it tell you? It simply communicates that we need to stop being lazy and just do it – put on the brand’s shoes and go out for a run, jog, cycling or any other physical exercise that is good for us. It was the much-needed encouragement for a large audience which procrastinates when it comes to taking care of its physical health.
Source: Nike Facebook Page
Last but not the least, Wal-Mart’s tag line, “Always lower prices. Always” is another example of excellent branding. It gave a very clear and convincing message to the customers, i.e. every time they shop at Wal-Mart, they would be able to save some money (not only at sales or other special events). And they lived up to their promise!
So what’s the takeaway? Give a lot of thought to your tag line. It should be able to communicate your core message convincingly and also be catchy and impressive!
7. Don’t be inconsistent
When we talk about branding, consistency becomes extremely critical. It is that one thing which helps in building familiarity and ultimately, loyalty.
By consistency, we mean using the exact same name/ initials, logo, tag line etc. in all your communications, whether internal or external. So the company name mentioned on the sign in front of your office/building must match your business cards and corporate website.
Even finer details such as the way in which a call is answered by your company representative can make a difference in maintaining brand consistency. This person needs to know exactly what to say about your company and keep the messaging consistent.
Avoiding these common branding mistakes can greatly help you in building a brand that offers real value to its customers. Again, it is important to avoid having a short-term view when you’re developing a branding strategy for your company. This means you shouldn’t have a narrow focus on the present. Rather, your brand should be able to reflect your company’s future goals and objectives as well.