Branding your business is a never-ending responsibility. Unfortunately, you can’t just establish your brand reputation when you first launch and then forget about it; you’ve got to continually work to ensure that all of your marketing messages accurately reflect your brand’s image. Sometimes, though, you make a mistake or two along the way that can potentially jeopardize the success of the brand you’ve built. Below we’ll identify a few of the most common branding mistakes, as well as look at how to fix them.
- Failing to Establish Brand Guidelines
If you’re not clear from day one what you want your brand to be, you’ll always struggle with trying to nail it. Think of your branding as your promise to your customer. Brainstorm a list of what you want to deliver to your customers, and then write out a branding strategy around these ideas.
For example, if you want to be known for being a small business marketing expert and helping business owners perform their own marketing, making business owners self-sufficient needs to be part of all your messaging. You’ll want to focus heavily on providing DIY type content in your marketing communications and social shares.
- Not Monitoring Your Brand Reputation
Your brand should be about trust. But do people trust your brand? The only way to know that is to pay attention to what people are saying about your brand online, as well as to the interactions you have with people there. What do your Yelp reviews say? Are people complaining about the service they receive at your store? This is something you need to address internally (better training of your staff) as well as publicly (by apologizing to the reviewer and offering them some sort of compensation). Are people writing fabulous reviews about your brand on their blogs? You can support these fans by sharing this content and commenting on it.
Social media tools like Hootsuite let you set up streams where you can monitor any mention of your brand. That way, you can respond quickly to anyone talking about you, for better or worse.
- Being Stuck in the Past
One thing that’s absolutely necessary for your branding is to roll with the times. That goes for the visual look of your logo and website as well as what your brand stands for. As digital cameras flooded the market, Kodak found out the hard way that it couldn’t continue to brand itself as the leader in camera film. So it rebranded to better appeal to the evolving market. If you’re resting on crumbling laurels, it’s time to take a fresh look at your branding efforts and figure out how you can better appeal to today’s market. Technology likely will play a large part in that.
- Not Investing in Branding
For small business owners, this is especially true: they think they can easily design a business logo themselves and save some dough. But when you really think about what that logo (or website, blog article, etc.) does for your brand – how, in fact, it serves as the front door to your business and therefore heavily influences people’s desire to walk into your business and look around – you can see that saving a few dollars isn’t going to help you in the long run.
Invest in your branding. Hire a professional designer for that logo or website. Do not grouse over the cost. Well-designed visual branding is what separates you from the other cheap businesses that think they can get by without it.
- Going Off Brand
Yes, it can be challenging to keep every single marketing message on-point with your branding strategy, but it’s essential. Try to throw in additional layers to your brand, and you just end up confusing people. A few years ago, GEICO had so many different ad campaigns going, it became a head-scratcher. Turns out it was part of their overarching strategy, but still: unless you’re prepared to defend why your message is deviating from your original branding concept, keep it simple and relatable.
If you have more than one person working on your branding, make sure they ask themselves if that blog post, social media update or email is in line with your branding message. If it’s not, it needs to be tweaked.
- Failing to Tie in Branding with SEO
Sure, the content you write on your blog, the updates you post to social media and the emails you send your subscribers all need to line up with your branding, but don’t overlook the obvious. SEO is a major player in the branding realm, so make sure you know the rules.
Google changes its mind from time to time about what it deems more relevant in search results, so it’s wise to pay attention to updates on its algorithms. This can change your content marketing strategy, so make sure you understand the implications of the update. For example, recently Google started moving sites that aren’t mobile-friendly down mobile search results, causing many businesses to frantically scramble to make sure their websites were responsive. If you stay on top of this, you’ll never have to wonder why you slid down search results.
Pay attention, too, to your website analytics, as they’ll tell you which of your pages or blog posts are getting the most attention. That can help you shape future content. And make sure your SEO keywords align with your brand: if you want to be known as a leading seller of organic catnip, make sure you’re using the keyword phrase “organic catnip” throughout your site.
Without branding, your business will crumble. It’s important to monitor what results your messages are getting so you can make sure your efforts are paying off. When they’re not, reassess your marketing strategy to get back on track with your branding strategy. When the two are aligned, you’ll attract new followers and customers, and build deep customer loyalty that will keep them coming back for repeat purchases far into the future.
What’s your branding strategy? Share your branding tips with us in the comment section below.