The following material comes from the forthcoming eBook, Marketing Essentials for Growing Businesses. To get this eBook for free when it comes out, register by clicking here.
So far in this book, we’ve talked about the history of branding and how to get starting considering one’s own brand. Now we’ll talk about some common pitfalls of those who create, maintain, and even redo their branding.
Growing companies can easily hit pitfalls with their branding strategies if they’re not aware of the common mistakes. By giving you the top five most dangerous pitfalls here, we hope to help you avoid these mistakes, and in their place, give you strategies to overcome them.
1. Underestimating your brand power.
The first pitfall is underestimating your brand’s power. This is especially true for small to medium sized businesses. Regardless of your size, the seemingly small decisions made to build your brand are essential. Each decision is important, so you need to establish guidelines and rules for what may seem inconsequential—fonts, colors, taglines, voice, articles, etcetera.
A brand is much more than just a name. A brand, at the core, elicits emotion (good, bad, positive or negative). Long-term brands, like cars for example, have established their brands so long that people literally talk about their devotion and love for one brand over another (“I love my Ford” or “I hate Chevy” bumper stickers, for example). Clothes are another example. Despite not having major objective differences, customers are loyal to their brand.
2. Overcomplicating your brand.
Overcomplicating your brand is especially true in designing logos and signage, which we cover later in this book. Marketers think they need to overload their signs, business cards, and decals with information. That’s wrong. People don’t always need more information; sometimes they merely need the right information. For example, some HV/AC companies attempt to list all their services on the sides of their truck, but in the end, their trucks are so cluttered with text that nobody reads anything.
In this case, I’d say they need to stick with their basic services (HV/AC and plumbing) and add your phone number. Everyone knows what an HV/AC or plumber does. Their business card doesn’t need to list all the units they service. If a customer has a need and question, they will call. Essentially, they’re drowning the customer with content the customer doesn’t need to know.
3. Being too vague.
The flip side of overcomplicating your brand is being too vague. You’ve got to have a clear, concise message. If a plumber has a picture of a farm on his logo, people think he does landscape. Don’t be too vague or, on the other hand, provide too much information. Just provide enough to communicate exactly what you want people to know and remember.
4. Cheating your brand.
Cheating your brand is a bigger problem for those who already have a brand. As a growing company, you’ll eventually come out with a new product, service, or ad campaign and you may want new colors or a new tagline. Sometimes that’s okay, but if your colors have traditionally been red and green because you’ve sold Christmas products, you don’t want to change to blue and black. At that point, you’ve cheated on your color. The more changes you make on your branding, the more your voice dilutes your brand.
5. Mismanaging your company’s exposure.
Lastly, both small and large businesses frequently mismanage their company’s exposure. When deciding who and what to associate your brand with, don’t do everything! Do events with like-minded companies that share your values and marketing strategies and offer similar services. While it may be okay to expand your horizons at times, don’t dilute your brand by stretching yourself thin. Think carefully about the types of business with whom you associate.
Every company has a brand, whether or not they meant to create it. (Whether it’s controlled or not is another question.) If you don’t know and control your brand from day one, it becomes very hard to change your brand later on without exorbitant time, energy, and money.
Intentionally creating your brand from the onset, as described in this chapter, will revolutionize your whole marketing strategy and reveal the foundations of your mission, vision, and values. Crafting the right slogan and tagline is next up! Stay tuned on our blog, because these elements of a brand must be done intentionally and thoughtfully as early in your business as possible.
As always, we’re glad to help you as you consider how to brand your company. Give us a call! The number is (615) 462-5383.