One of the first things you think about when you’re the owner of a startup is small business branding. You imagine endless ways and possibilities through which your small brand could become as well known as Coca Cola’s, Nike’s or Adidas’. However, since the process of getting there is long and challenging, mistakes are bound to appear. One of the best ways to build a successful brand is by actually avoiding typical mistakes:
#1. Not Establishing Your Brand’s Guidelines
This is one of the most common mistakes made when trying to build a company’s brand. You, as the owner, know that you must establish it, but you don’t exactly know what it should be or how it should look and feel to your clientele base. The reason is you haven’t established your brand’s guidelines. Here are some things you should consider prior to linking a brand to your company.
- Think about your logo and how it should look like. You can choose to have a single, dominating one or an overarching logo followed by several, individual ones, created especially for particular products in your line.
- Think about your brand colors. It is a good idea not to use famous color combinations, such as Coca-Cola’s red and white, Red Bull’s red and yellow, Samsung’s blue and white or Starbucks’ green and white, or to avoid using the same hue these brands have adopted. If you are using green, it shouldn’t be the same shade as Starbucks’.
- Think about the typography and font you use. As a word of advice, stay away from famous fonts, such as the Disney one.
- Create a voice for your small business branding endeavors. Is it youthful, playful, authoritative, inspiring, provocative or any other way?
- Do you have or want a mascot or spokesperson?
#2. Do Not Overcomplicate Your Brand
Many small business owners make the mistake of overcomplicating their brand. Here is a great tip – less is more when it comes to branding.
If you do some research, you will see that the most famous brands have the simplest concepts behind them. Never add more variables than you need. Your logo will never need seven different colors in it, and your company motto needn’t be an inspirational quote three paragraphs longs. Just do it. I’m lovin’ it. Got milk? Ideas for life. Maybe she’s born with it. Impossible is nothing. A diamond is forever. And the list could go on and on.
#3. Don’t Be Vague About Your Brand
When you establish the guidelines to your small business branding, it’s very easy to become vague. The best way to understand this trap is via an example. You have seen slogans and ad campaigns that read best-selling books/magazines, award-winning anything, championship basketball lessons, and so on.
These slogans seem to indicate that the product or service offered is the best. In fact, it doesn’t. It doesn’t say anything about your business, products, employees, let alone your brand.
This type of copywriting has been called by the specialists ‘wallpaper copywriting’ or ‘lazy branding.’ The idea is that these constructions have been used so much and so often that they have truly lost all meaning to the mass markets, as far as small business branding goes. You only need to walk down the street where you live, and you’ll see dozens of these ‘best something’ signs, from hot dogs and pizza to pencils and headphones. Don’t be one of those entrepreneurs.
#4. Don’t Roll Out Small Business Branding Changes Like It’s Nothing
The first thing you need to understand while we’re on this topic is that rebranding is normal. Many small business owners fear the big, ugly monster called a change of brand. It’s not a big problem unless you do it poorly. What you need to remember is that every single change you make to your brand will affect the relationship you’ve built with your customers.
Hence, a change in small business branding should only be attempted if the benefits of the changing are more compelling than the potential problems.
When you do make the change, educate your customers regarding all the changes you are planning to undergo, no matter how small they may seem to you. Start this process before you make the actual changes so that your clientele isn’t unpleasantly surprised.
#5. Do Not Allow Your Small Business Branding Efforts to Be Inconsistent
Think about small business branding like it’s a puppy that needs to be fed all the time. Just like you can’t afford to miss feeding the dog even once, you can’t afford to be inconsistent with your small business branding efforts.
If you step off the grid you will be overlooked by your customers, confused with another similar brand or even forgotten altogether. Today it’s very easy to stay on top of your branding efforts in the digital age. Thanks to it, you can now tweet, IM, Instagram, and post on Facebook every single thing you find relevant and that can keep you on top of the game.
Bonus Round – Do Not Disregard Your Competition
Unless you’ve figured out a way to sell necklaces made of stone brought back from Mars, your line of business has some serious competition. One of the worst mistakes you could make is to overlook your peers.
Even if you think you don’t have any direct competitors, that’s probably not true. If it seems that way, you’re simply not looking closely or deeply enough. Remember – if you’re overlooking your competitors, that doesn’t mean they’re doing the same thing. They know all about you and your company, and they work at staying one step ahead of you.
Small business branding mistakes are unavoidable. You will probably make some, it’s a trial and error process, but it will be a leaning experience.