Defining your brand can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. Trying to distill your business into tagline, logo, or elevator pitch is more work than it seems and the importance of getting it right the first time often keeps a lot of businesses from re-branding and re-positioning all together. Worse still? Branding mistakes can cost you money and set you back with your clients and prospects alike.
Weak and generic branding can make you forgettable while doing things like over-designing your logo can be off-putting (think of when a certain Seattle-based coffee chain tried to show off too much of their famous mermaid). Establishing a strong brand will help you attract the interest of potential B2B customers and make it easier for them to trust you. As such, you’ll want to make sure that you avoid the following most common branding mistakes.
The 5 Most Common Branding Mistakes
1. Not understanding what “branding” means
A surprising number of B2B companies assume that branding starts and stops at having a cool logo. While your logo is a part of your brand – it’s one of many components. People don’t know who Apple is just because of their Apple logo. When you think of Apple, you think of the specific products that they offer, such as their Macbooks or iPhones, the quality of their products, and their sleek and minimalist look. This is the result of years of building their brand.
Branding is the overall identity of your business, and this encompasses many different things like:
- Visual style like fonts, colors, and icons
- Brand tone and voice
- Brand pillars
Branding is about establishing and building an identity that will help differentiate you from all of the other businesses that offer competing products or services within your industry. It’s also the promise that your B2B customers expect you to keep based on the promises your branding makes.
2. Focusing too much on current branding trends
Trends are fads that don’t last long, that’s not really the place where you want to start as the foundation of your branding. Your branding efforts should be built to last. The values of your company and your unique selling propositions are what should drive your branding efforts organically, not cool fonts or edgy color choices. One of the biggest branding mistakes many businesses make is to adopt whatever’s trending amongst popular brands in the current market in an attempt to appeal to more people.
Using current branding trends to create your brand is problematic for a number of reasons:
- Authenticity: Odds are you’re not being true to yourself if you’re just trying to capitalize on the latest trend.
- Differentiation: You’re going to have a difficult time standing out from your competition if you’re doing what everybody else is doing.
- Longevity: If you’re building your brand on a trend, what happens when the trend fades? So will your brand.
There are ways to adapt your brand to coincide with trends in a way that doesn’t vitiate your overall branding and still helps you stand out. Campaigns and social media posts are great ways to tie into popular memes and slang–just make sure you’re not forcing a round peg into a square hole (re: make sure it appeals to your target demo and stays in line with your brand voice and tone).
3. Not focusing on brand storytelling
No one wants to see SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL, all day every day. It’s annoying and it’s no longer 1997, those tactics just don’t work. What does work? Storytelling and connecting with your targets by identifying and solving their problems. Way too often we see companies make the branding mistake of forgetting to incorporate their personality when crafting stories or talking too much about themselves and not enough about their customers.
Companies are still run by people – decision makers who have thoughts and feelings. If your branding is mechanical and emotionless, you’re going to have a hard time engaging these decision makers. It’s why storytelling is such an important part of branding.
Brand storytelling is the use of a narrative to connect with your potential customers. This includes putting a face behind your company, detailing why your company was formed (to solve the specific challenges your customers have), identifying what makes you unique within your industry, and proudly establishing what your values as a company are.
Your brand story should help to create an emotional connection and to motivate and drive potential customers to want to be part of it. Your customer should be the hero of your brand story.
4. Being inconsistent with your branding efforts
Once you’ve established your brand, you need to be consistent over all platforms. This means your logo, tagline, and colors should be consistent across your website, social and other collateral. You don’t need the exact same cover photos or images on every single platform, instead adapt your imagery to your audience and the platform itself. Create a consistent look and feel by telling some stories using the imagery that you use.
Inconsistent branding hurts your brand identity and confuses B2B clients. For example, if the majority of your marketing efforts have a professional, business-like tone, and you suddenly release a video ad that’s silly and full of loud graphics, potential clients are going to be unsure as to whether this ad belongs to you or if another business simply has the same name as you. Branding requires consistency to be successful.
Make sure that all of your marketing efforts, whether it’s on your website, on social media, in your emails, or offline, are consistent in terms of your branding.
5. Assuming that branding is a short-term effort
Building a brand takes time. Think of it this way: Coca Cola, one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, still spends hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising and branding efforts every year. They understand that new customers are born every day, as are new ways to find and consume content.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all it takes to create your brand is to sit down and write a list of everything you want it to represent and to design the logo and tagline for your company. A big part of branding is consistency and reputation, and both require time to build up. Essentially, you need to understand that your branding efforts are not a short-term strategy, it’s not even a long-term strategy, it’s a never-ending strategy.
Branding Mistakes (or how I learned to stop worrying and love my brand identity)
Successful branding is essential to attracting new clients. Your brand represents your business so don’t be afraid to make it your own, just make sure to be consistent and multi-encompassing. By avoiding these branding mistakes and evolving your brand with your company, you’ll stand out in the tricky world of B2B marketing.