New and established companies alike can fall into many of the same flawed patterns when it comes to their branding. Even if in the beginning you took all the right steps to establish a strong identity, you must make an effort to maintain all you built. If you’re not vigilant, these common mistakes can creep into your marketing and undermine your brand.
A solid brand depends on a well-defined focus. Start with an understanding of your industry, product and audience and shape all your messaging around this understanding. Great brands will unravel or fail to get off the ground the moment they try to become everything to everyone. Even companies that service multiple markets have unique and carefully constructed brands within each of the different markets. Any time you attempt to reach beyond your focus without a distinctive strategy for the new product, audience or industry, you risk diluting your overall brand.
Inconsistent messaging can be a symptom of a forgotten focus, but more often than not, the culprit is a failure to communicate your guidelines to each and every person responsible for disseminating your message. This includes everyone who represents your company: marketing, sales, senior staff, customer service and beyond. Clear guidelines for your brand promise and the voice that supports it should be outlined and made readily available to everyone within the company. Key players that have the most visibility should be actively trained on those brand guidelines by the department or individuals that defined them.
While your logo is a big part of your visual identity, it is just that, a part. Simply sticking your logo on all of your marketing materials isn’t going to strengthen your brand. In fact, in some cases, it could actually harm your brand image. Placing your logo prominently on poorly executed sell sheets, presentations, websites, etc. will leave you looking unprofessional. Your visual identity should direct brand colors, font choices, images, white space, and even video styles.
It’s always wise to keep an eye on the competition, but when healthy observance turns into unoriginal emulation, your brand suffers. You are a unique company with a specific offering that sets you apart from all others in the industry, otherwise, why would customers come to you? If your brand messaging takes on the look and feel of your competition’s there is no way you can expect your audience to understand what does set you apart from the other guys.
If you already have a solid brand in place, you may think you’re set. However, a lot of good brands have wound up stale while operating under the idea that branding lasts forever. This doesn’t mean you have to overhaul every element of your identity each year. Simply revisiting different elements every few years is enough to keep you relevant as time marches on. Even the most iconic companies from Apple to Coca-Cola understand the value of a well-executed brand refresh.
If you find your company making these mistakes, you are far from doomed. With a little time and effort spent on reigning in your identity and aligning your messaging, you’ll be well on your way to building or maintaining a brand that resonates with your audience.
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