The 3 Branding Mistakes You're (Probably) Making

Let me paint you a picture. You’re starting your new business, you’ve got the finances in order, the accounting system, the product line, you might even already have clients on board. You’re completely ready to go.

But what about your branding? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Your brand is vitally important to the health and vitality of your business, and how well your customers and prospects connect (or disconnect) with you. And yet so many small business owners pay little to no attention to their brand at all.  

We’ve put together the top mistakes we’ve seen to help you avoid them in your own business. You’re welcome.

1. They don’t know what their brand values are.

During a 1997 presentation to his employees at Apple, Steve Jobs gave the following advice:

“To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So, we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”

When it comes to branding, Steve Jobs summed it up perfectly.

Your brand values are the ‘true north’ of your business. They’re what your business stands for and why you got into business in the first place. As Simon Sinek says “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. And your brand values are your ‘why’ that people are going to buy into, connect with, and hopefully, stay loyal to.  

If you don’t know your brand values, start with a pen and paper and a clear head. Start thinking about yourself as an individual (it’s your business, after all) and what you stand for. A lot of the time, the easiest way to start unearthing your brand values is by writing down what you believe. Start with ‘I believe in…’ then see what comes out. So, what do you believe in? Is it, exceptional customer service? Doing things differently? Turning the industry on its head? The possibilities are endless.

Oftentimes, brand values are born from negative experiences that you may have experienced in the past and want to avoid in the future. Take the customer service example - many business owners who aspire to deliver exceptional customer service are doing so because they’ve been personally impacted by poor customer service in the past and want to not only avoid delivering poor service, but want to make it a point of difference in their business.

Your brand values need to be the guiding light behind everything you do. Your decisions should be based on your brand values, and if something you’re about to do is going to contradict these values, stop and think again! Customers lose trust very quickly when it comes to a business that appears to go against its own values.

2. They always go for the cheapest, fastest option.

Branding and graphic design are one of those things where everyone you know knows someone who can do it for them. Usually it’s their nephew’s friend or their old classmate, or their uncle’s neighbour. Good, great, excellent. What we see all too often, are businesses spending loads of money on everything but their branding, then trying to get out as cheaply as possible when it comes to their brand, and winding up with a fairly mediocre visual identity as a result.

Repeat after me: when it comes to branding, people judge the book by the cover. And in your business, your brand is your cover. If your customers and prospects are inevitably going to judge the quality of your product or service based on their perception of your brand, wouldn’t this be something worth investing in and doing right the first time? Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and there’s no point being the best mechanic, hair dresser or personal trainer in the city if your branding doesn’t reflect this!

Good branding is about doing your business justice, so that you have the opportunity to attract the right customers and really show them that you’re the bee’s knees. Look at any of the most recognisable businesses around… believe you me, their branding had a lot to do with it!

3. They ‘set it’ then forget it.

When it comes to branding, there is no ‘set and forget’ option. It’s constant work to uphold, maintain and build on what you’ve created. It’s a lot of work, but when done properly, should be fun, rewarding and generate an actual return on investment.

Everything you do in your business is an extension of your brand. Your website, your customer service, the way your staff dress, the way your receptionist answers the phone, the way you write emails… it’s everything. All these elements add up to something super important; your brand, your reputation and your relationship with the people who matter most to your business.

Having a logo and some stationary does not a brand make. It’s a great start, but there’s a hell of a lot more to it than that. Think about every.single.aspect of your business. It’s literally everything you do, and every decision you continually make about how you’re going to do things. Branding is an ongoing process, and you need to constantly remind your customers who you are, what you stand for, and why they should give a shit about you.

As Frank Luntz says: “There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.”

Consistency and repetition are the mother of branding, and you have to do the work every damned day to reap the rewards. Try it, and report back to us.

If you need help getting clear on your brand values, defining your visual identity or making sure your brand touchpoints are a killer reflection of your business, get in touch with us.