When people hear the word “brand”, their minds typically jump to large, established organisations; companies such as Nike, H&M, Disney and Apple. But think about it…once upon a time, these multi-million-dollar companies were Small Business, just like yours.
While there are so many elements that make up the growth of a Business, having an excellent branding strategy plays a key role in your success. Establishing a strong and prominent Brand isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s a long process that takes time and effort. But, unfortunately, just in the same way that great branding will boost your Business’s potential, poor branding will hinder it. That’s right, sometimes even the smallest mistakes can have a huge negative side effect on your Business’s Brand and reputation.
Branding shouldn’t be frustrating or confusing, but it’s important that you have some basic knowledge before you really start putting your Business in front of the discerning eyes of your potential customers. To assist you with your branding efforts, we’ve created this list of the branding no-no’s that you need to avoid to keep your Business’s Brand in the clear.
Inconsistency Across Social Media Platforms and other Mediums
To create a strong and stable Brand, you need to present your Business as exactly that: genuine, authentic and exactly who you say you are. You need to have one consistent voice, tone and message that resonates across all of your Social Media Channels, Marketing, Emails and Advertising. Fail to do this and your audience will never be able to get a good sense of your Business.
In order to build trust, likability and strengthen your branding, you need to create an image and voice which is consistent. Your audience need to feel as though they know who your Business is and what it stands for. This means that if you’re saying one thing on your Business’s Facebook Page and another thing on your Website, they won’t know what to believe!
Consistency begins with coordinating all your Marketing Strategies across every place your brand is represented. This includes your visuals, message, values and Business goals. To help you maintain a high level of consistency, we recommend that you create a set of branding style guidelines for your Business. This is a set of standards wherein you put your desired colours, fonts, images, logo, tone of voice and values that will allow anyone creating content for you (whether that be Designers, Copy Writers or Web Developers) to maintain consistency.
Without this set of guidelines, it will be easy for your Business’s Brand to quickly lose direction, which will, in turn, likely see you losing customers.
Sticking with Cheap Options
When you’re just a starting up your Business, it makes sense that you want to be practical when it comes to your spending.Now, while it does pay to be cost-efficient (pun intended) this doesn’t mean you should completely scrimp on elements which help to define and strengthen your Branding efforts.
If you think you can successfully get away with your neighbor’s friend’s cousin designing your logo and building your Website for free, think again. Though it might seem like a good deal at the time, this will have serious ramifications on your branding efforts later down the track. When it comes to Online, everything is perception. This means that if you have a cheap looking Website with limited functionality and an unappealing logo, this will reflect on the kind of products and services your Business provides. People who don’t know your Business will see these and immediately associate your Brand with being cheap and nasty – definitely not ideal!
It’s worthwhile investing in professional Web Developers and Designers to create something that’s of a high-quality, as this will create a brand that appears authoritative, professional and appealing to your target audience. A nice Website and logo design shouldn’t cost the earth, either. There are plenty of reasonably priced companies that can do a great deal when it comes to creating something quality for your Business. Shop around and find the best fit for you!
Your logo and Website tells everything about your Business, so make sure you invest properly in professional work because they’re the lifeline of your brand.
Blending in with Your Competitors
It may be tempting to follow trends when it comes to branding, but if you follow too closely you run the risk of completely blending in with your competition, making you indistinguishable from all the other Small Businesses out there.
While it may be appealing to opt for what’s popular in branding currently, the whole idea of good branding is that it sets you apart: it gives your Business its own voice, look and character. For this reason, you need to create your own style, as this is what will really set you apart from your competitors.
Do some research, ask yourself what your point of difference is and use the answers to build up a strong brand image that will focus on your uniqueness.
Only Giving Customers What They Want
While it is important to listen to what your customers are wanting and to create products accordingly, you also need to remain true to your Brand.
For example, you may sell vintage men’s shaving equipment and have created your whole Brand around this concept: your Website is rocking the ‘vintage hipster’ vibe, your logo reflects your Business’s character perfectly and even your packaging matches your aesthetic! If a few of your customers begin asking for modern shaving equipment, this doesn’t mean that you should necessarily start stocking this completely different product, as that’s not staying true to your Business’s branding concept. Alternatively, you could establish a referral system with a modern shaving equipment supplier, or else ask specifically what features it is that your customers are looking for. Perhaps you actually do have products that offer what they’re looking for!
This is not to say that your Business and brand can’t grow and expand to include other products, services or features, but you need to ensure that your Brand stays steadfast, as this is what people associate your Business with.
Choosing Quantity Over Quality
Good branding isn’t about the number of times your target consumers see your Brand, it’s about the way in which they view it and the perceptions they make about it based on what they see. You’ve heard the age-old expression “any publicity is good publicity”. Well, in regards to Th Online World, this isn’t necessarily true, or recommended.
It’s not about how many articles, images, videos, you post with your branding on it, what matters is that you deliver valuable content to your audience. In every Marketing Strategy, quality shouldn’t never be compromised for quantity.
Although it is a common belief that consistently posting and updating content is a way to stand out among your competitors, if the frequency overlooks the quality of your work, then it’s all useless. Rather than being a Business that people look forward to seeing and consuming content from, they’ll grow to resent your brand as one that constantly pops up in their newsfeed or inbox with nothing important to say. This will likely see them unfollowing your Business, unsubscribing and having nothing further to do with you.
For this reason, it’s vital that you ensure every piece of content you publish with your branding attached is of worth to your audience. Do this, and they’ll begin to lap up your content and even seek out your brand Online to access more of it!
Having No Clear Branding Strategy
To achieve your Business goals, the first thing you should do is plan, especially when it comes to your branding strategy. If you go into this with no clear idea of what you’re wanting out of it, then you’ll likely miss the mark, causing confusion for both you and your customers.
Before you begin your branding strategy, you need to have a clear understanding of exactly the kind of message and tone you want to set for your Business. Are you powerful and authoritative? Are you fun and playful? Are you young and casual? Whatever you chose, if you know exactly the kind of look, feel and tone that you want to achieve from the onset, you’ll be better able to create branded material that best reflects this.
While branding may not have been something you thought was highly important for your Small Business, it’s important to understand just how crucial it is when it comes to getting noticed Online. Even the smallest mistake can have huge ramifications on your success, so make sure you take note of the above points and always have your Brand firmly in mind when creating any content for your Business’s Marketing efforts.