We love so many parts of design, but it's building brands that what gets us really pumped up about what we do. It mixes strategy, communication, and design - our favorite puzzle.
Branding can be a little complicated for those who don't work with it often and even if you're familiar with branding it can be tough to maintain. To help make it a little easier, we've put together a list of eight common branding mistakes we see small businesses making.
1. Inconsistent messages and visuals
It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling bad because you think you are just repeating yourself over and over. But when it comes to building a strong brand, it's actually a GOOD thing if you feel like this! Keeping your message and visuals consistent helps you break through the clutter and communicate clearly who you are and what you do.
Being consistent doesn't mean being inflexible. Don't create guidelines that are so rigid that they don't allow any room for growth or change over time.
3. Fitting in too much with your competition
To some degree, it is important to clearly be in league with your competition. But trying to be just like your competitor is a huge mistake. Sometimes this happens by accident, but other times it's done on purpose. Brands that work too hard to look and/or sound like the competitors lose what makes them unique and get lost in the clutter. It's also easy to unintentionally pick up phrases, visuals and ideas from the brands you admire. Keep an eye our for things you may have written that don't really sound like things you say in conversation. Your brand should be genuinely you, not genuinely someone else.
4. Not knowing your dream client or customer
If you haven't decided who your brand is for, most likely you'll end up working with people who just aren't a good fit for you. Every time you write you should know who are you speaking to. This is how you can find your brand's voice. And once you know your targeted audience? Listen to them! Being engaged with your people is the only way to find out what the want and need.
5. Not clearly defining what makes you different
When you aren't clearly defining or sharing your unique position, you aren't playing to your strengths. A lot of people struggle with this because deep down they may actually KNOW their unique selling point (USP), but are scared to communicate it because it doesn't FEEL unique. Don't be afraid to position yourself, because if you aren't positioning yourself you aren't being seen by the right people. If you're struggling with this, you can head back to this post about doing what you do when it feels like everyone is already doing it.
6. Don't overcomplicate it
When you're told repeatedly how important it is to get in touch with your brand and find what makes you special, the tendency is to continue adding layers of complexity to add interest. This is a huge misconception. Complicated isn't unique. It's confusing. Streamline wherever it's possible and keep it clean.
7. Misunderstanding that your brand is not just your logo
Yes, your logo is a huge component of your brand. But your brand is so much MORE than your logo. It's your story, you vision, and your message coming together to form the big picture. Essentially, your brand is your promise, and that promise starts from the inside-out. You have to BELIEVE in your brand and so should your employees.
8. You can't microwave a brand.
I feel like I just put a lot of pressure on you with those other seven bullets, so I want to end things here. When Kristin and I first met, we were both just about to start college and be random roommates. The first time we met, we got along really well and had fun, but we were both a little quiet and a little scared. Afterwards, I sent her a text letting her know that I had a good time with her and was ready to get to know her better. And then I said the thing we'll never forget: "You can't microwave a friendship." It's hard to trust someone you've just met. They may be nice and fun, but will they get you? But the truth is, building relationships just takes a little bit of time. The same goes with brands. Building a solid foundation takes time, trial + error, and trust.