Branding, a commonly used term throughout the business world, essentially means to create an identifiable entity that makes a promise of value. It means that you have created a consciousness, an image, an awareness of your business. It is your company’s personality. Numerous businesses try, but many fail at creating a successful brand. For more on the definition of a brand, read What Is a Brand?
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes:
- Not thinking analytically. Too many companies think of branding as marketing or as having a catch phrase or a logo. It is more than simply vying for attention. A brand warrants attention on a consistent basis, represents something that your audience wants but does not get from your competitors. For example, it could be providing the best customer service in your industry — not just through your tagline or logo — by actually providing the best customer service in your industry.
- Not maintaining your brand. Too often, in a shaky economy, businesses are quick to change or alter their identity. Too much of this confuses your steady customers. For guidance, think of big brands — Nike, for instance, has used “Just Do It” as a logo for years. One rule of thumb is that when you have become tired of your logo, tagline, and branding efforts, that’s when they begin to sink in with customers.
- Trying to appease everyone. You will never be able to brand yourself in such a way that everyone will like you. Typically the best you can do is to focus on the niche market for your product.
- Not knowing who you really are. If you are not the fastest overnight delivery service in the world, do not profess to be. Too many business owners think that they are providing something that they don’t. Know your strengths and weaknesses through honest analyses of what you do best.
- Not fully committing to branding. Often business owners let the marketing and advertising department handle such things as “branding,” while they work on sales and other important parts of the business. But sales and branding are tied together as integral aspects of your business. Many Fortune 500 companies are where they are today because smart branding made them household names.
- Not sharing the joke. If only the people in your office get a joke, it is not going to play to a large audience. The same holds true for branding. If your campaign is created for you and not “them,” your brand will not succeed.
- Not having a dedicated marketing plan. Many companies come up with ideas to market themselves and establish a brand identity but have neither the resources nor a plan as to how they will reach their audience. You must have a well-thought out marketing plan in place before your branding strategy will work. For help putting together a marketing plan, see How to Build a Sound Marketing Plan for Your Business.
- Using too much jargon. Business-to-business-based companies are most guilty of piling on the jargon. From benchmark to strategic partnering to value added, jargon does not benefit branding. If anything, it muddles your message.
- Trying too hard to be different. Being different for the sake of being different is not branding. Yes, you will be noticed, but not necessarily in a way that increases sales.
- Not knowing when you have got them. Companies that have succeeded in branding need to know when to stop establishing their brand and when to maintain that which they have established. Monitor the results of your branding campaign. If your small business is a local household word, you can spend more time maintaining your professional image.
For specific guidance on creating a brand and marketing materials, read 14 Reasons Small Businesses Need Both a Logo and Marketing Materials. In addition, check out the branding articles in the Sales & Marketing Center.