What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you think of business branding? Many business owners and business customers think of companies that have done a great job branding their products like Coca Cola, Nike, or Starbucks. The trademark logos related to these companies are known the world over, and their branding has continued to stimulate business growth for decades. But as a small business, merely considering the financial output required to establish such a level of branding can be overwhelming at the very least. Believe it or not, it is easier to develop a solid brand image than may be imagined. Taking care to adhere to a few simple guidelines can mean the difference between a successful brand launch (or revamp) and a lot of time and effort spent for lackluster results. Below are some common pitfalls and branding mistakes small businesses need to avoid, so they do not waste money on failed branding.
Brands are Powerful
Failing to understand the power of a brand is an oversight that small businesses cannot afford to make. A robust and well-recognized brand is clearly beneficial from a customer relationship and procurement standpoint. It is crucial to have the same immediate, definitive brand recognition as that of larger brands when potential customers think about products.
A clear brand definition is also essential from an SEO perspective. Search engines like Google tend to prioritize branded listings in their organic search results, as visitors are more likely to click on those listings. More clicks means the chance to be seen by even more potential customers. This means focusing on building a business brand can lead to a rise in website traffic and other benefits of brand awareness.
Brand awareness is how familiar consumers are with the specific qualities or images of your particular goods and services. Along with increased web traffic, brand awareness keeps your products at the top of your consumers thoughts, increases word of mouth referrals, builds your brand equity and customer loyalty, and increased sales.
Don’t Forget to Establish Brand Guidelines
What does it mean to “develop a brand” for a company? When creating a brand identity for a business, it is essential to establish defined guidelines that cover the brand’s specific elements. The guidelines should include brand colors, taglines, fonts, imagery, mascots and spokespeople (if applicable), and the preferred “voice” to convey to the customers.
Brand guidelines allow for cohesive use of logo, font, colors and typography. It also allows for color codes that can be utilized through print and web that are consistent. Regardless of who is handling your marketing, these guidelines provide the roadmap to keeping your brand consistent which will grow brand recognition.
This list is certainly not comprehensive. If there is another branding characteristic that is necessary to define the business, add it to the brand guidelines. Collaborating with a professional designer can provide advice and insight into areas of marketing and branding goals that are often overlooked. A skilled designer can help the branding efforts by providing consistency and direction to the documents.
Brand guidelines communicate to your company internally, as well as to your customers, partners and affiliates the standards of your brand. It is important that your guidelines underscore how your brand should be represented. Brand guidelines should be clear, consistent, focused and recognizable.
Don’t Overcomplicate the Brand
When starting the branding process, it can be tempting to add more variables and components to the brand than may be genuinely needed. Clean and simple elements are more likely to be remembered by consumers, so it is wise to avoid adding too much flare to the branded elements. Consider the fact that memorable brands are often straightforward.
Since the logo is only “part” of your brand overcomplicating the imagery and font lock up isn’t necessary. Some of the most iconic brands are simple, geometric, or words with simple elements integrated into the logo. Adding lots of unnecessary decoration to your logo will not construe a strong brand. Often times this will show the opposite of a very immature or mediocre design.
Your logo should be part of a consistent branding effort that extends across your marketing campaigns and all of your social presence. It should reflect, in the simplest form, the ideals and values of your brand.
Don’t Fall into the Vague Branding Trap
Now on the flip side of overcomplicating your brand you don’t want to fall into the tramp of under designing your brand as well. You do want to stand out and look as if the brand elements have had thoughtful consideration and strategy behind them. Your brand should be telling the visual story of who your business is. It should visually represent the business entity. Try to ensure it’s not so generic that your brand could be adopted by anyone else.
It can be challenging to determine how far is too far. It is critical to ensure the branding is not so vague as not to reveal anything about the company and its value. For branding to be successful, it is important to walk the line between too little and too much. The solution to this is to ensure the branding uses clear language, logos, and imagery.
If you are concerned that you do not know how to walk this line, or that you will clutter your brand with the wrong language, logos and imagery, this might be the time to call on a professional. If you decide you need a professional to help you with this, you should still work on making sure your ideas of your brand are clear so that you can give enough information to get the results you are looking for.
Don’t “Cheat” On Brand Guidelines
You have made it to the point where you have carefully crafted brand guidelines and implemented them across all of the company’s marketing media and online. All is going well until a few months in when you create a new advertisement for a brand-new product launch, and you really want to use a few elements outside of your branding guidelines. Can you?
Well, the short and answer is yes; but you shouldn’t. Every time you deviate from your brand guidelines, you water down the impact of the brand message. By introducing new elements, you are essentially showing your customers a new brand logo, diminishing the strength of the brand association.
Your ultimate goal is to build brand recognition. You will struggle to do this if your visual brand is constantly changing. Consistency and repetition are key elements to brand recognition. It’s imperative that you stick with the guidelines you have in place in order to support the bigger brand message. This is what will make you memorable and help to bolster customer loyalty.
Failing to Police Brand’s Usage
Developing and implementing the business’s brand guidelines is only the first step. In addition to the work put into branding, it is crucial to be proactive about monitoring where and how others are using the branded elements. If this critical task is neglected, competitors could create a similar logo, a review website could use the logo and not link back, or an advertisement could feature the logo but the without credit or proper design elements. While some of these issues may be relatively minor, others could result in necessary legal action if the brand is being infringed upon.
Implementing QC measures within your business and with your marketing team can help alleviate the unnecessary back tracking that could occur if your brand is infringed upon. Brand infringement can cause customer confusion, loss of customer trust, loss of revenue and even damage to your reputation.
Poor Rollout of Brand Changes
There are benefits to rebranding, and when done correctly, it can be very beneficial to the business. It is important to remember that any brand-related changes may reduce the connection built with customers. Deciding to make alternations, using the help of a design professional like Bianca Frank Design can help weigh the benefits and risks of a rebranding campaign.
When rebranding a professional brand strategist can determine what is necessary to remain for brand recognition and what can be left behind. This is a mix between messaging and visuals and what your current customers are used to seeing from you. Having a professional evaluate these items from a distance can help you gain much needed clarity in how to move forward.
Rebranding is a high risk, high reward marketing strategy. A skilled branding professional will give you the edge you need to make sure that you end up on the high reward side of the equation.
Branding is essential to businesses of all sizes. Avoiding the branding mistakes described above and following carefully laid plans for the company’s branding guidelines will go a long way towards helping the small business gain essential brand recognition with target customers. If the idea of branding or creating brand guidelines seems daunting, remember that expert support is available. The professional design staff at Bianca Frank Design in Anchorage, Alaska, have years of experience assisting business owners with their branding or rebranding efforts. A solid branding effort will reach across all aspects of the business, including print and online media. Our web design professionals are experts in taking the brand guidelines from goals on paper to expertly created images published online, helping to increase recognition, SEO, sales, and customer relationships.