Your brand is everything about your business’s identity. It’s the way you act with your customers, the graphics and words that you choose to represent your company, and the processes and methods that you choose to succeed at your business.
The trick of branding is that you create a brand, whether you do it deliberately or not. It’s important, therefore, that your brand be carefully created and protected, above and beyond anything else that you do with your business.
Let’s talk about the branding mistakes you might be making, without even realizing that it’s happening.
Are you being consistent?
Your brand is how customers recognize your business. This is often done through your logo and your graphic design choices. Everything from the color palette that you use to build your website through to the font choices on your graphics becomes part of your brand, and how customers will recognize your work going forward. Part of creating your marketing plan should be laying out the font, color, and graphic choices that will be part of your brand.
Once you choose these things, it’s incredibly important that you stick within the framework you’ve chosen. One famous example that is often cited is the logo for Coca Cola, which has barely changed over the more than one hundred years that the brand has been in existence.
Yes, you can make changes to your brand, but It’s important to remember that every time you change your graphics, change your font, change your colors, you’re losing some of the recognition you’ve worked so hard to create. You can successfully rebrand your business, but it’s a lot of work, and not something to be done at random.
Have you let your brand get stale?
This may seem contradictory, following right after what we just said about keeping your brand consistent, but remember that your brand is a living, breathing piece of marketing. While the most basic elements of your brand need to be consistent – think again of Coca Cola’s iconic script and red and white graphic–other elements have changed over time. We’ve had new Coke, Coke Zero, and Coke Classic, over the years.
While keeping the core elements of your brand consistent, you should always be questioning how you can improve your customer experience and get more done. What can your company offer that no other company can? How can you convey this information to your customers and clients?
Don’t be like many small businesses, who create a brochure, order thousands of copies, and then refuse to order new ones until the old ones are used up. Keep your numbers small and recreate them frequently, even if you reuse copy and images. Give your customers something fresh to see and read, even if it still fits within the same guidelines you’ve been using for years.
Are you using your most powerful assets?
When businesses focus on marketing, all too often they focus on bringing in new customers. While new customers are, of course, crucial – in fact, some industry professionals say that getting your first 100 customers is the most difficult stage for any business–no business can survive without repeat customers.
In terms of both getting new customers and keeping the ones you have, word of mouth can be the most powerful tool you have. All too often, businesses overlook this kind of marketing, focusing instead on things that are more trackable.
What do you offer to a customer who comes back to your business with a friend? What do you give to your customers if they share your social media posts? What sort of rewards do you offer for loyalty and advocacy?
Do you know your strengths?
All too often, businesses look at their product and think that everyone can benefit from it. The sad truth is that this is almost never the case. Short of air and water, virtually every other item on the planet has a target audience smaller than “everyone.”
When creating your branding guidelines, you need to make sure that you understand your company’s strengths and play to them. To create the outlines that will define your brand, make sure that you’re drawing in feedback from all the stakeholders of your business, as well as the different segments of your audience. Knowing your audience allows you to target your brand specifically, and make sure that you’re connecting with the people who ready to hear your message.
Are you the best person to spread your message?
We all have social media accounts, and at this point, anyone can create a webpage. But that doesn’t mean that any person who can do these things is qualified to do them for a business. While many people run successful small businesses and also manage their own marketing for a time, for many businesses, hiring someone to manage their brand and create content for them is a necessary business expense if the company is to grow and flourish.
There’s no shame in outsourcing your marketing, no matter how DIY-focused American culture has become. And when you approach a content marketing company, go prepared with a creative brief that goes over your brand and helps them understand who you are and what you need.
As a business, it’s incredibly important to pay careful and detailed attention to your brand. Every action of your company either builds your reputation or harms it. By investing in your brand, your employees, and the development of all aspects of your customer experience, you help to ensure that your business will succeed. Whether you do it all yourself, or hire out your marketing, creating a brand is the first and most important part of building an audience for your business.
What is the most costly branding mistake your business has made? Tell us in the comments!
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