Small and new businesses tend to focus more on getting their products or services recognized by potential customers and relegating branding as an afterthought. Truth be told, branding is more important than you may think. Branding is far much bigger than elements such as logos and brand colors. Your brand is the identity of your entire business.

You cannot ignore or avoid branding. Branding encompasses everything your business is, how customers think about your image, and what you can offer them. When your business succeeds in branding, you will see success on your balance sheets, and customers will trust you more. Bad branding can hurt your company. Here are some common branding mistakes and how to avoid them.

1.- Not Clearly Identifying Your Target Audience

When you identify your target audience, it becomes easier to capture their attention and find better ways to meet their needs. For your startup business, this process might take time for researching and tweaking, but it will give you valuable insights into the motivations and needs of your potential customers.

Without knowing who you’re targeting with your products or services, you cannot develop strong and authentic branding. If you create a brand before identifying your target audience, you will likely end up with an uninspired brand or less active brand to your customers. You may end up wasting time and resources, miss out on the point on how to push offers to your target audience, and worst of them all, alienating an audience.

2.- Underestimating the Value of Branding

Many entrepreneurs think that branding is all about choosing a logo for your company or choosing the right name for your business. As you run your business, it’s critical to understand the tenets of effective branding to develop a branding strategy based on the target market and not the assumptions.

Branding is all about building trust and leveraging what you have to influence how the public views your business. Branding has everything to do with values, creating emotions in your audience, and it’s what sets you apart from your competitors.

Before settling on what logo to use or your primary brand color, ask yourself the following:

  • What does your brand stand for?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What platforms are you going to use?
  • Why did you build your business in the first place?

Answering the above questions effectively can help you figure out how to brand your business. So, make branding a priority at the onset of your business and adopt personal branding best practices to avoid undertaking avoidable and expensive re-branding in the future.

3.- Poor Visual Identity

Visual identity creates an emotional impression of your brand to the target audience. It informs customers about the nature of the products or services you offer and unifies different aspects of your business through consistent visuals. A good visual identity can make your brand recognizable right from the onset of business and should be in line with your values.

Visual identity goes beyond having a beautiful brand book, well-designed presentations, a user-friendly website, or appealing ads. Brand visual identity culminates in developing a style guide for the brand to provide consistent instructions on how your brand should be presented at all times. Customers will have no reason to give the benefit of the doubt to a visually unimpressive brand. It’s up to you, as a brand, to earn trust from your target audience.

4.- Lack of Branding Guidelines

Lack of branding guidelines can make your business appear inconsistent, untrustworthy, and unprofessional. Brand guidelines should cover:

  • How, when, and where to use your logo.
  • Color schemes.
  • Fonts and typography.
  • Visuals and imagery.
  • Tone, voice, and writing style.

5.- Building Your Brand by Putting Others Down

Building a brand is what entrepreneurs do to get noticed by their target audience, make themselves available for opportunities, and make them stand out from the crowd. With different guides being published on how branding should be, it’s easy to get confused on how exactly to do branding for your business. While it’s natural for you to stay competitive, building a brand by putting others down might not make your company look good.

Your brand shouldn’t compete with anyone else. If you build the best brand for your business, you will offer real value to your customers. It also increases your exposure to potential customers, encourages repeat purchases, and generates revenue.

Your Personal Branding Matters

Bad or no branding can hurt your business. The products or services you offer should solve problems encountered by your target market. But if your branding isn’t effective and thought through, it could cost you valuable customers for years to come.

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