10 Branding Mistakes Small Business Owners Need To Avoid At All Cost

By Janil Jean , Aug 11 2014

Nike’s popular swoosh and Apple’s bitten fruit have one thing in common – they weren’t created by casual business owners who couldn’t care less about their branding. If you are such a small business owner, let me tell you your company may be headed for failure for sure. Save yourself the trouble and avoid making the mistakes that would cost you your business.

So what are the grave blunders that you may be making? Here are a few of them.

Inconsistent Branding

As a small business, it’s easy to start off your branding efforts with great zeal and excitement but this often result in burnout. Other than this, some businesses also make the mistake of using their logo or tagline on only a few of their materials while what they should be focusing on is promoting their brand both inside and outside the organization consistently with the same message.

How to Avoid: The only way your small business can attract customers is if you are consistent with both, your efforts to establish a business as well as your branding techniques. Hire a set of marketing experts, if need be, but communicate a consistent branding promise and message to your audience.

Not Tracking Branding Efforts

Branding and advertising is all about attracting customers and finding out how they react to what you have to offer. So if you are only concentrating on getting your word out there but aren’t tracking the growth, success or failure, you may be losing direction.

How to Avoid: Invest in online tracking tools and programs to find out exactly how people are responding to your branding strategies by quantifying their interaction, engagement and satisfaction from your products.

Not Including a Tagline

Things like your company logo and tagline are essential to your business’ image. Without a tagline, you are not grabbing the customers’ attention because they simply don’t know what you are all about. Think about McDonald’s tagline: ‘I am Lovin’ It’ or Avis promise “We Try Harder”.

How to Avoid: Spend time on thinking of a punch line which connects your brand with your customers, both emotionally and psychologically, so it attracts attention in an instant.


Not Establishing Guidelines

Just knowing that your company needs branding isn’t enough because without proper guidelines for the logo, taglines, brand colors, typography, vision and brand promise, you are setting yourself up for failure. The reason for this is simple, without these guidelines, your brand will be all over the place and customers won’t connect with it.

How to Avoid: Plan out everything from the color theme to the fonts that are to be used; brand personality, target audience and so on. Doing this will not only help make your branding efforts more consistent but will also give you direction.

Rebranding Poorly

Rebranding is not necessarily an evil practice that you need to avoid. However, if you approach it poorly your brand is set to doom. Remember, because your customers have already made a connection with your existing brand, it is always a risk to rebrand.

How to Avoid: Before making a change, be sure to tell your customers about it beforehand. Look at the example of Coca-Cola; though their current logo design is different from the original, it hasn’t lost the essence completely. So it may be important to make a few changes here and there, don’t alter your brand design completely.

Not Connecting Through Social Media

Today, online branding or social media branding is a lot more important than offline branding. If you don’t have Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest where your customers have a chance to reach out to you, you are already losing to your competitors. Without social media company profiles, you are not only appearing backward but not really investing in your customers.

How to Avoid: Have a detailed and well managed page on at least two to three platforms even if you are a small company. Hire a few people who are dedicated to these pages and know what keeps your customers interested.

Forgetting Consumer Experience

Today, because people have hundreds of choices for products that more or less function the same way, your business will not make it unless it has its own unique experience. This is the sort of experience which your customers will cherish and want to be a part of. This may not seem very important when you are starting up and a small entity, it can be damaging to your business if ignored.

How to Avoid: Spend time on working out what it is that keeps customers interested and how you can enhance their experience with your products and brand. Develop your brand using the senses; then hook the customers to any one of them with your brand promise.

Not Planning for the Future

Now though it won’t be possible for you to look into a crystal ball and know the future of your company, you must at least know where it is headed. There are examples of many famous companies that have lost their spark simply because they didn’t know where their brands were going and ended up changing things like their logo design way too often.

How to Avoid: Set goals for your company as well as your brand and always design your identity in the simplest form possible. Don’t rely on too modern or futuristic designs because these may go out on a whim and then you will end up with a dated brand design.

Not Focusing on Personal Branding

Even though your brand does need to be different to stand out in the crowd, it is always a mistake to put too much pressure on it because this will not only cost you your relationship with your customers, but it will also be bad for the sales. Don’t make the mistake of using gimmicks to stand out as it makes you look desperate.

How to Avoid: Be unique by bringing in your personality and brand story instead of relying on flashy promotions and techniques. No one can steal these two things from you, which is why they will help in bringing the business towards you.

Not Correcting the Mistakes

Finally, the biggest mistake that you could end up making is to forget all that you have read and not implement it strategically. Know that even though there are other staggering errors that you could be making, these are some of the easiest to slip on.

Are you a small business owner? What other branding mistakes can you add to this list?

Branding Mistakes to Avoid

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Janil Jean is an idealist blogger and social media addict who loves conversations related to branding, storytelling, startups and small business technology and design.


2 thoughts on “10 Branding Mistakes Small Business Owners Need To Avoid At All Cost

  1. Great article! What I always add when advising my clients is that branding is also about how to speak to customers, how the building and cars are being taken care of. Are you on time or always too late? …and so much more to say about it.

    1. Janil Jean says:

      Thanks Sun Van. That’s true you know. It’s all about making it personal and connected with the customers. These things don’t cost but they sure make a great impression that last forever. Thanks for the input 🙂

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