Appropriately branding your business can be tricky, but some mistakes are just plain dumb. Too many small businesses trip themselves up by making simple mistakes with their brand strategy – and without a compelling, coherent story about what your brand is and why it matters to customers, your business will struggle to stand out from the competition.
Let’s look at some no-brainers that brands need to stop doing immediately:
Focusing Too Much on One Social Media Channel
Many small businesses have limited time and limited budgets to promote their brand, so they tend to focus on one social media channel. But this can be a mistake if you end up putting all of your efforts into one place. John Rampton, Founder and CEO of Due.com, says, “I love focus and I think everyone should focus to build their product and service, but if you focus too much on Twitter, for example, and don’t do anything else, you may miss out on other opportunities.” John says to use what he calls the “75 percent rule.”
“75 percent of your time and branding should be on what makes you 90 percent of the money you make,” John says. “The other 25 percent should be equally dispersed into the rest of the areas of your business.”
Trying to Be Too Clever
Some small businesses embrace their smallness – they are happy to be small businesses, their brands are simple and clear and they want to attract customers who want to support small businesses. But other small business owners make the mistake of trying to say a bit too much – telling a convoluted story with their logo or brand, or trying to look “bigger” than they actually are in a way that is not authentic.
Brian Gatti, partner with Inspire Business Concepts, says that complicated logos and obscure branding strategies can often backfire for small businesses. “If your logo requires a story to explain it or your tagline is obscure, you’ll likely turn people off,” Brian says. “The reality is that for most businesses your customers aren’t interested in you being overly clever – they want to know you’re going to solve their problem. For example, with your logo design, don’t start throwing random colors in. It will create a disconcerting experience and may actually turn people off.”
Ignoring the Product and Customer Experience
Another common branding mistake is thinking that your brand is the same as your logo. Linda Pophal, content marketing expert with Strategic Communications, LLC, says that many small business owners get preoccupied with the visual elements of the brand – the logo, the colors, the tagline – and forget about the broader picture of what the brand really means in terms of products, services and customer experiences.
“Building and managing a strong brand takes considerable time and effort, and it’s not just about a great logo,” Linda says. “It’s about having a strong product or service that meets the needs of a target audience, that represents value to them and that ensures a positive experience at every touchpoint. Building that brand will involve focusing on product attributes such as packaging and distribution, staff attributes, especially in service organizations where the staff is the product, pricing issues and promotion. All of these elements must work together to help influence consumer perception.”
Not Being Different Enough
Another big mistake is to make your brand too much like someone else’s existing brand – not only from a copyright infringement standpoint, but because it will hurt your business by not letting your unique differentiators stand out.
“It’s a mistake to follow too closely in the footsteps of other businesses,” says Jenifer Daniels of Good+SmartCo. “While it is valuable to conduct competitor research, small business owners can find themselves unknowingly replicating their business models and brand promise.”
Instead of accidentally copying someone else, small business owners should make added effort to think hard about their company and what it’s unique selling points really are. “Focus on your unique value proposition,” Jenifer says. “This will ultimately create a unique brand identity look and feel.”
Kabbage Takeaway: Some of the biggest brand strategy mistakes include unwittingly copying the competition, trying to be too “unique” in a way that’s not authentic, focusing too much on one promotional channel and not including your specific product strengths and overall customer experience as part of your brand. Branding is more than creating a logo – it’s about telling a coherent, compelling, believable story that reminds your customers of why they want to keep buying from you.
What other branding mistakes have you committed? Share them with us in the comment section below.