In today’s enterprise, it’s not enough to have a product in the marketplace. You have to have branding behind it as well. Think of it this way: your product is what you are, but your branding is who you are. And in today’s world, that’s a differentiator about which customers care.

The reason branding is so important is that it brings credibility to your company. You don’t have to be a large company such as Nike or Coca-Cola to have branding, either. You just need to do it right. If you are a new or small business owner, refer to these branding mistakes to avoid for guidance.

Inconsistency

A big branding pet peeve is when there is inconsistency across a company’s presence. For instance, when the blue website logo isn’t the same blue as the logo printed on a mailer from the same company. Or when a radio spot is cheeky, but the website copy is completely serious. This sends a confusing message to customers. The fix: a style guide. What is a style guide? Something that dictates who you are and who you are not. This is an all-inclusive (read: hefty) document that includes detailed information on everything from the fonts you use, the logo, acceptable uses of the logo, brand colors, words you would use to describe yourself, words you’d never use to describe yourself, and so on and so forth. If someone is new to your company or you bring on an outsourced marketing professional, this document will help get them up to speed on the ins and outs of your brand. It is vital to have something like this to root back to, even if you need to update it over time.

Lack of a story

I once met a nice couple who sold soap at local craft market. While their soaps were lovely, they had extreme difficulty answering basic questions about their products, such as how did they get into the soap business, how were their soaps made, what made their soaps different from something I could buy from a large-scale retailer, etc. Having answers to these prompts means that you understand your company’s DNA. In essence, this is your brand. And once you get your story down, practice telling it. Recite it in the spoken word, hire a professional copywriter for any written instances such as your “About Me” page on the web or a press release, and recruit a production company for a short video about your brand.

Spreading too thin

Part of knowing your brand means understanding what exactly fits under your umbrella. To go along with the soap company example, does it make sense to expand the line to shampoos? Bath bombs? Lip balms? If yes, great. But where do you stop? At shaving cream? Beard oil? Or is your company just strictly bars of soap? Technically, there is no right or wrong answer, so long as you are not getting away from what makes you, you. Think about your favorite companies and what they sell. Take, Harley-Davidson for example. What if they unveiled a minivan to their product line? How would that make their current customer base feel? Would anyone even be interested in a minivan made by a company known for hardcore motorcycles? Remember: just because someone out there may buy it, doesn’t mean your brand should offer it.

There are many other branding mistakes to avoid, but these are significant road blocks that many companies have faced before. For help telling your brand’s story, contact us or watch some work we’ve done for others.

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