Between our agency and the many workshops I teach, I've seen hundreds of businesses that aren't getting the traction they want. They have the passion, they have a smart product (most of the time anyways), and they have the drive and ambition to move forward. But something's still not working.
Inevitably, there's a few common mistakes that I see entrepreneurs make all the time with their branding that hold them back from making money.
While these are by no means the only mistakes I encounter, they seem to be the most common, low-hanging-fruit and worth mentioning as they can have the biggest impact on your business.
1. The Chicken or Egg Complex - this is how I affectionately explain entrepreneurs who are waiting to book big clients or fill major orders before they invest in their branding. The irony is that what is standing in the way of getting that revenue is THEIR BRANDING. They know it. I know it. Yet, they wait months, sometimes years to wake up to this fact.
How To Fix It: Invest in your brand. Determine the amount of annual revenue you want to make and do as the successful businesses do. Invest 10% of that total into your branding. The simple truth of the matter is if you don't believe in your business/product enough to invest in it, how can you expect your customers to?
2. The Nike Swoosh Myth - I love Nike. My journey to branding started with Nike. I also love their branding. But the fact of the matter is that Nike isn't a multi-billion dollar business because of their logo. In fact, legend has it Nike paid about $30 for the swoosh. Nike is a success because they built an incredible brand identity and did everything in their power to keep the brand consistent with that identity. They knew exactly who they were, who their customers were, what value they had to offer, they differentiated from their competition, and they constantly found innovative ways to share their message. Oh yeah, and they spent millions of dollars on marketing each year to spread that message. So many customers still think that branding is entirely about a logo or website. These items are absolutely important, but they ARE NOT your brand. They are the vehicles you use to communicate your brand.
How To Fix It: Get crystal clear on your brand identity before you spend a penny on branding. Hire a brand strategist to align your mission, value prop, customer profile, core values, and vision with the product you offer.
3. The Fluff Faux Pas - More is not always better. It's usually just fluff. Filler. Unnecessary noise that is clouding the messaging of a product trying to compensate for a lack of value or desperate to stay in front of their competition. Whether it's blocks of copy on your website trying to explain every facet of what you do (which, let's be honest, nobody is reading) or the cheap swag you're just putting your logo on because you have that big event coming up and you can never go wrong handing out more crap with your brand mark on it, right?
How To Fix It: Think strategically about each piece you create. What will this be used for? Do your customers really need yet another tote bag, or is there something that actually relates to your brand and could be more useful to them? When it comes to website copy, set up your text so that your customers can easily skim the info. Be considerate of their time by making it simple to navigate.
4. The Bandwagon Blunder - Whether you're trying to hop onto the latest trends by adding more unneeded decoration to your marketing materials, incorporating too many fonts or colors on your website, or adding more and more products to your online shop to keep up with your competition, being a Bandwagon Jumper is one of the easiest ways to taint your brand and confuse your customers.
How To Fix It: Know your audience. Find what sets you apart and make sure every product or service you offer is aligned with those two things. Create a Brand Bible and refer back to it often to ensure that your efforts are aligning with your mission and vision. And, for the love of all that is holy, pick 2 fonts and no more than 4 main colors for your brand to use across all of your materials.
Need help with establishing who you are as a brand and how to best communicate it? Learn more about our Brand Sprint Strategy Session!