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The biggest branding mistakes to avoid

Oct 21, 2022

Getting your branding right isn’t easy, and contrary to popular belief, there is so much more to branding than a simple logo and some pretty stuff.

If you’re working on the branding for your small business yourself, then I salute you. It’s no mean feat and doing a good job of it can be challenge. While it would appear to go against what I believe in (obviously I offer branding and website services and guidance to small business owners, so I shouldn’t be helping you DIY should I?!) I actually want to help those who choose to DIY their branding, because, well, I’m a business owner just like you.

So along with helping you out with weighing up the pros and cons of DIY branding, I’d like to also like to guide you through some of the pitfalls and things I see happening a lot when business owners choose the DIY route, so here are my biggest branding mistakes to avoid.

 1. Not getting clear on your Ideal client first

How can you create a brand if you aren’t clear on who you are creating it for? Before you start trading, selling and marketing at all, you’ll need to understand your ideal customers; who are the people you ideally want to sell to?

Remember that if you try to appeal to everyone your branding and messaging can get really watered down and you’ll end up appealing to no one at all. Get laser clear on who you’re speaking to by getting to understand their expectations, the things they identify with and the kind of brands they are already into. Once you have identified your ideal clients (target market) your branding and marketing will become a lot easier.

2. Forgetting to establish business values

Great brands always have strong business values that describe the purpose of their business. If you try to start on your branding design without identifying the biggest reasons why you’re in business, this can lead to a really confusing brand identity. Establishing values for the business and creating a brand voice based on those values will make it so much easier for you to connect with your ideal clients. 

Of course, you might be thinking that you set up your business to make money and that’s your business purpose. I need to stop you right now. If the biggest reason why you are in business is to make money, is that enough? It’s so important to believe in what you do and create a message that aligns with your ideal clients, so try to establish your business values by thinking about what’s important to your ideal clients. This could be around sustainability, happiness, financial freedom, offering advice, support, bringing joy or inclusivity.

3. Not showcasing that thing that makes you different

It’s so important for you to share with your audience what’s different about you and what you have to offer. Why should your ideal clients buy from you and not the next business? It’s so important to be clear on what problem you’re solving and who you’re solving it for, but also making sure that you keep your brand authentic to you and your values along the way.

Ultimately, one of the most powerful things you have that sets you apart from others in your business is you. Don’t be afraid to be authentically you, show your face and bring your personality to your brand.

4. Following trends

The pressure to follow trends is real. So much stuff online on social media and Pinterest rabbit holes. The problem is that trends come and go and if you base the visuals for your brand on a trend your branding can totally lose its meaning once that trend has passed and become irrelevant or look out of date.

You’ll want your brand to have longevity and to continue to be relevant and relatable for many years to come. If you’re constantly chasing trends, this might mean you’ll need to rebrand more often and this can be costly, time consuming and it’s not easy!

I’m not saying your brand can’t be cool and trendy. Not at all. I’d recommend keeping the core parts of your branding and messaging classic while using your socials and other aspects of your brand more trendy so you’ll be keeping up, while also keeping relevant.

5. Not connecting with your customers

Without your customers you don’t have a business.  Without them your business wouldn’t be a business at all. Your audience and your customers are totally unique to your brand and your business, so use that to your advantage. 

Branding goes so much further than just the pretty stuff, as I mentioned above. Your branding and messaging should tell stories of your customers, their transformations, how you helped solve their problem and the connection you have with them as this will help build brand loyalty. The whole customer experience with you helps build up your brand identity, so think of every interaction with you as part of your brand. This includes things like your email marketing campaigns, customer testimonials, responding to comments on social media and customer support. All of these are ways to make sure you are maintaining a constant flow of communication between you and your customers.

6. Pretty rubbish copy

When many people think of branding, they automatically think of logos and visuals and all the pretty stuff. Business owners often overlook the text that accompanies all the visuals. I often see that a lot has gone into the visual branding but not a lot of thought has been made on the words that communicate the brand message.

Text is an important branding tool that tells a story about a company’s brand identity, so ignoring the copywriting for your brand is a critical mistake. Thinking about the vocabulary, style and tone you want to represent with your writing can help make the brand more engaging. I encourage my clients to work with a copywriter if possible to make sure their message really comes through. Writing can be hard, writing copy that converts your audience into buyers can be even harder, so if you don’t think you have the skills, outsource it. Get in touch if you’d like recommendations for copywriters as I work with some really good ones!

7. Inconsistency

Brand consistency is probably the thing that has the biggest impact and the one that I see becoming a problem for so many businesses. Consistency helps build familiarity, loyalty and eventually, credibility. Be consistent with your promotions, personality, communication and every other interaction you make with your audience. For example, Coca-Cola might just be the most consistent brand in history. Its logo has hardly changed in 130 years. Plus, Coca Cola is known as the brand that turned Christmas red!

As well as keeping your brand consistent over time, it’s also so important to keep your branding consistent across platforms. This is probably the thing that has the biggest impact and the one that I see becoming a problem for so many businesses. You’ll see one name and identity on Instagram and then their website name and colours will be totally different and I have no idea if I am looking at the same person, business or brand. Make sure to stick to the same visuals and messaging across all platforms and touch points and you’ll start to see that loyalty building up over time.

Creating a successful brand isn’t easy, but not making the above mistakes will help you along the way. If you want my help and guidance you can find loads more advice over on my blog or get in touch and ask me all the questions. I’d love to help you create your brand.


About the writer…

I’m Katie and I’m besotted with taking adventurous female creatives, coaches and educators on a journey of discovery of their business from the foundations up, to give them a crystal clear brand vision and a new found confidence to make an impact.

I know what it’s like to start a business and then find yourself on the road to burnout because actually, you’ve taken so many wrong turns and lost sight of the reasons why you started on your journey in the first place.

I hope these design notes inspire you to create the brand of your dreams. 

Katie x

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