Brilliant branding is a guaranteed way to set your business apart from any competition. A strong brand builds reputation and trust with your audience. All while delivering unparalleled ROI.
Despite this, the power of branding is still massively undervalued in so many businesses. The travesty is this: simple branding mistakes are made day in, day out which you should avoid.
So, what leads to this common mockery of marketing?
Generally, the downfall comes down to lack of knowledge of what branding actually is.
Branding is more than a logo or a selection of colours. A brand should be meaningful. And that depth actually matters.
Exploring a brand beyond what you see with at a glance, adds new complexity and intricacy. With this comes a distinct competitive advantage.
Here are 5 little-known branding mistakes that we often see businesses making.
1) It’s not a logo
Let’s set the stall early so we’re all on the same page.
It certainly makes up a part of your brand. To say otherwise would be foolish. But at the same time, every other part of your business also makes up part of your brand.
A logo provides a quick visual representation of a brand. Something that should evoke a memory or an emotion from the viewer, depending on their relationship.
And that is what is key. Evoking a memory or an emotion.
Brands should be built around more than what they look like. They need to evoke a feeling; to have a purpose.
The holy grail for every organisation is to have instant brand recognition. That moment where someone can interact with your business in any way (not just capture a glance of your logo) and recognise you for more than your style.
This also helps explain why a quote for "branding" from one agency might be £100, whereas another could be tens of thousands.
One concentrates on just the look (your logo or identity) and the other looks at the broader purpose.
2) Believing branding is a cost
Getting your brand right makes it a key business asset, not just a cost.
Think about some of the biggest brands. McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Red Bull. Do you believe they see their brands as a cost to their business or an asset?
Your brand is the way you communicate with your customers, how they interact with your business, your tone of voice, the feeling they get from those interactions... the list goes on.
Without proper awareness and investment into designing a brand that works for you and your potential customers, your business will flounder or stagnate whilst competitors capture your market's attention.
A good brand also provides a solid foundation for all marketing activities. Without this foundation, your marketing will send mixed messages rather than communicating one united front, and strengthening your presence in the marketplace.
A general rule of thumb is that a business ought to be spending between 5%-10% of revenue on marketing activities to enable growth.
Changing your mindset to see your brand as an asset allows you to ensure you get the most from it, exploiting the power of your brand in all your communications and standing tall amongst the competition.
Treat and invest in your brand the same way you would treat and invest in other areas of your business.
For example, if you want your business to exclaim prestige and luxury, then be willing to invest in premium finishes on design work to support this.
3) “My friend's nephew has Photoshop 2006; he’ll do you a logo”
See point 1 & 2 to understand why this really ought to be moot.
A lot of thought should go into the creation of a logo. A logo that has been fully thought out, researched and explored should stand the test of time.
To retain the strength of your brand, certain rules should be created alongside logo development which stipulates its usage. A logo also needs to be developed to allow it to be used in various formats. For instance, you might need your logo to feature on a letterhead and be a few centimetres in size but also need it to be 6-foot wide to fit on the side of a building.
Without going into the details of vector & bitmap based artwork, let's just say that Photoshop really isn't the correct software to create something that can be scaled up to such a large size.
So, whilst we agree your friend's nephew is incredibly keen, there is a bunch of knowledge and research that should go into logo design that is likely not going to be considered.
4) Missing Values and Focus
Everything that has been discussed so far all have a common element; they all feature no values and completely lack focus.
What do we mean?
We’ve mentioned before that a brand needs a purpose, it needs to evoke emotion.
That’s because a brand is built on being part rationale and part emotional. It’s the foundation of what your business does. It's the thing that truly differentiates you from competitors.
At the end of the day, toasters toast bread (and crumpets).
There’s not much difference between a £10 toaster and a £400 toaster. They all brown bread and all crisp crumpets.
If we all bought things based on just their features, we’d live in a world where all the toasters are the same.
But they’re not!
Why aren’t all the toasters the same?!
Branding. That’s why.
Wolf Gourmet, for instance, has taken the time to explore their values and have allowed that to be embedded into everything they do.
Their identity, the way they communicate to their audience, the language and tone of voice they use; even so far as to how their toaster has been designed and manufactured.
It's the one thing that has allowed them to get away with selling their toasters for £400.
And this in itself highlights that Wolf Gourmet are well aware that not all customers will buy based on cost.
The moment we’re able to inject values, purpose and focus into our brands, then we’re able to offer that little extra to our customers. Because we evoke emotion.
But (and it’s a big but), your values have to be honest. They must be a true representation of your business.
“Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealised, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character.” - Richard Branson
The best way to identify what values you want your brand to project is through figuring out what values you don’t want to project; what negative experience you don’t want your customers to have.
Through identifying what you wish to avoid, you’re on your way to building your true values.
5) Crappy Design
This is the biggest, most obvious and visible way we see branding mistakes wasting your budget.
Generally, it stems from 1 of 2 basic fundamentals:
No Brand Guidelines
Not following Brand Guidelines
Powerful Brand Guidelines ought to delve deep into the heart of a business’ purpose and values. It’s more than just how to use the logo or what colour palettes should be.
A true Brand Guideline should cover other elements such as;
- Photography usage
Tone of Voice
Type of Fonts
Application of brand elements
As well as deeper, more purpose led guidelines;
Not following Brand Guidelines quickly leads to inconsistencies and confusion in all these areas.
Now, think about what happens when your customers and audience start to notice these inconsistencies.
Inconsistencies scream of lack of standards. A lack of standards means a lack of quality.
A lack of quality means a business is failing at sticking to their values.
Ultimately leading to potential customers avoiding your business.
Protecting your business from design inconsistencies is ridiculously simple.
Appoint a Brand Guardian, either internally or externally. This ensures that every piece of design work that is commissioned adheres to the guidelines.
You might have noticed that a common theme to all these mistakes is a lack of purpose attached to a brand identity.
This generally stems from the common mistake that a brand and logo are the same. The idea that anyone can design a logo and it'll suffice.
Good logo/identity design costs more because there’s more behind it than just the style.
A good brand costs more because there’s much more behind it than just the look.
Some of our most exciting projects have been when we’ve been able to work on a branding project from the research side, through to development, strategy, design and delivery.
This is because we’re able to get our teeth into the understanding of what the brand needs to deliver; what it needs to say and who we're talking to.
When these elements are understood by both the client and the agency, then all the deliverables (logo, website, design, print) becomes a much quicker and easier process.
The key to getting the best return out of your marketing budget is to ensure your brand has a purpose.
If you feel like you’re not getting the ROI out of your budget, then a good exercise is to investigate whether your brand has a purpose. The purpose is what differentiates you from your competition and why your customers will buy from you.