The Pitfalls of Branding

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Broadly speaking, branding is a company’s or organization’s image as perceived by the public. Often, a company defines and controls their image through how they market themselves by strategically deciding what they say, what they stand for, what visual elements they share and the products they sell. The goal of branding is to capture the attention of a target market and convert them into loyal customers. Overall, branding is simply how a consumer feels or distinguishes a business, and what they associate with that business. It is the personality of a company.  

Branding is incredibly important for the success of a company. At the same time, it is difficult to get right, and often involves people from different backgrounds, including marketing, design, and business, working together to create a brand strategy. If a company nails their initial branding, they must then work on maintaining that image while developing it further, which can be a complex process. There are many opportunities for things to go wrong, however, I have highlighted some common branding mistakes, so you know what to avoid when working on your own brand identity. 

1) Doing Nothing 

Probably one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is not doing anything. Successful branding is a calculated and precise process; it does not happen by accident. Not giving any thought to how you want to be perceived, and just assuming it will take care of itself as you grow your business is setting yourself up for failure.  As such, make sure to have a plan, and create a brand strategy.  

2) Forgetting Your Target Market

What can sometimes happen is that people make a company for themselves. They think they have a great idea that many people will want and create their entire brand about what they personally like. However, you are not making a company for yourself, you are making it for others. If you fail to provide what your customers are looking for, they will take their business to someone who does meet their needs. Therefore, it is critical that your do your market research, and determine what image and values your target market is looking for so you can adapt accordingly. Everything you do should be with your consumers in mind, and branding is no different.  

3) Not Establishing Brand Guidelines and Being Consistent  

A key part of branding is consistency. It needs to always be recognizable and familiar, otherwise consumers will get confused about what your company does and stands for. Furthermore, an inconsistent brand identity will make you appear uncertain and unreliable, which are negative qualities no business wants to be associated with.  

One of the best ways to maintain brand consistency among your employees, and third-party workers you bring in to help with designing, marketing, etc., is through establishing clear and detailed brand guidelines that cannot be broken. These guidelines usually include elements such as what colours, typeface, and imagery to use when creating assets or products.  

Click here for more detail about how to effectively create brand guidelines.  

4) Trying to Appeal to Everyone  

While it may be tempting to try to appeal to as many people as possible, so to have as many potential customers as possible, the reality is, you cannot do this. It is impossible to make everyone happy, and to appeal to everyone’s tastes. So, it is better to understand your target market, and obtain their business specifically. Therefore, cater your brand image to what they want to see. By engaging with one target market, it also increases the chances of your branding being clear and consistent.  

5) Being too Risqué or too Safe 

With so much competition, brands are figuring out how to stand out, and that often means trying to do things that no business has done before. While this can work, many of times company’s end up in controversy in their quest to be unique by doing questionable branding, leading to a damaged reputation. At the same time, being too safe can make a business look boring or stale. It is important to find that sweet spot between the two, and this can be achieved through market and competitive research, so to learn how tolerant your audience is.  

6) Failing to Hire a Professional 

Branding involves many different backgrounds to get it right, such as psychology, design, writing and marketing. Few people have a solid grasp of all these concepts, and experience in branding to back them up. As such, while it may cost more in the short term, hiring a professional to create your branding is strongly recommended, as it will save you money in the long-term in the form of greater profits.  

Conclusion 

Branding is an integral, but often challenging process. A company’s brand defines how they will be perceived for years to come, and directly influences how many customers or clients they will attract. As such, a lot of effort should be spent getting it right. Hopefully, these simple tips will help get you started on your journey to create a robust brand identity.  

September 30th, 2021

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