Chicago — When you start a business, branding can seem like a luxury. You’re just trying to get the doors open, after all! However, putting off branding can be one of the worst mistakes you make. Branding is not only crucial to the success of your business but also essential for attracting and retaining customers. So don’t underestimate it or neglect it.
Many small businesses begin with just one person behind them and don’t have teams of marketing specialists or designers on hand to help shape their branding strategy from day one. But branding is still relevant and critical to your future success. Let’s explore some of the most common mistakes small businesses make with branding and how you can avoid them as your start-up gets up and running.
Not conducting a competitor analysis.
Is competitor analysis too time-consuming? Definitely not! Competitor analysis helps you understand your market and competition. Understanding how people perceive your competitors will help you better adjust your branding. Rather than just looking at your competitors’ logos, websites, and marketing material, take a closer look at their products and services. What are the differences? How do you compare? Understanding your competitors will help you create or adjust your branding to give your company a competitive edge.
Failing to understand your audience and what they want is a huge mistake. Too often, startups create products or services they think people will love without actually doing market research. This is a recipe for disaster because you create something nobody wants or something that doesn’t solve the problem it was intended to. Do your homework and figure out exactly who your target customer is before starting to work on branding initiatives.
It’s also important to know where your target customers “hang out” online and offline, so you can reach them with marketing messages about your product or service. This information will help you differentiate yourself from other small businesses in your industry, as well as determine if there’s room for growth in this particular niche.
Not having a clearly defined target audience.
Knowing your target audience is key to success in any marketing campaign, and it’s no different for branding. Your target audience is the group of people you want to reach with your brand, and you must identify them as specifically as possible so that your messaging can be relevant.
If you don’t know who they are yet, start by researching the demographics in your area (age range, gender distribution). Then dig deeper into their interests and lifestyle choices until you find out how they would describe themselves. Then, use this information when creating content. What do they read? What websites do they visit? How often do they buy products online?
Once you have this information, create an ideal customer profile based on what you’ve learned. Then, you can more effectively target your audience.
Not understanding the power of design.
When you think about branding, you probably think about the name of your company. And while a good name is important, it’s not the first thing people see or remember. That honor goes to design–the colors, fonts, and layout of your logo; business cards; website; signage; packaging.
Design is what people react to before they even know who you are and what you do. It sets the tone for how people will feel about working with or buying from your company. A bad first impression can be difficult to overcome!
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve your design without breaking the bank. You can start by doing research on color psychology and font pairings. Once you have a good understanding of which colors and fonts work well together, begin creating or updating your brand materials with a more cohesive look and feel.
If DIY design isn’t your thing, hire a freelance designer to help give your brand an update. A professional designer can take all your ideas and turn them into a coherent visual identity that accurately represents who you are as a company.
Underestimating the importance of visual brand consistency.
Nobody wants to be caught dead in a mismatched outfit, but that’s exactly what happens when you fail to maintain visual consistency in your branding.
The importance of consistency is obvious: it makes people feel safe and comfortable with your brand, which makes them more likely to do business with you again. Inconsistent branding creates confusion for customers, who might think they’re dealing with two different companies rather than one. The only thing worse than being confused by your brand is being embarrassed by it.
Consistency is important in all aspects of your business and marketing strategy–from the color scheme of your logo and business cards to the font used on social media posts or landing pages–and every facet should be cohesive enough that customers know exactly who they’re dealing with at all times!
Overlooking the value of online strategy and social media.
No matter what business you’re in, social media is important for branding. If you’re not active on social media, customers may have a hard time finding and connecting with your business. Similarly, if you don’t have an effective online strategy for promoting your brand, potential customers may never even hear of your business!
For example, say you own a cleaning business that sells home cleaning services. You may have a beautiful website and an impressive social media following, but if you’re not actively promoting your brand online, potential customers may never find out about your business.
Similarly, if your social media posts are poorly written or don’t reflect the tone of your brand, customers may get confused or turned off by your content. In both cases, it’s important to ensure that every facet of your online presence is cohesive and represents your brand in the best light possible!
Well, there you have it! These five branding mistakes are a place to start when thinking about your brand strategy. Remember that branding is about telling the story of your business in a way that resonates with your target market. The best storytellers know their audience and what makes them tick, so be sure to conduct market research and competitor analysis before diving into branding.
Owner (individual): Filip Boksa