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What are the most common small business branding mistakes?

Branding, when done well, can be transformative for your business. It can be the vehicle by which you move towards achieving your ambitions and goals. Done badly, it can be at best a waste of time and energy, at worse a costly mistake. So, what are some of the most common small business branding mistakes and how do you avoid them?

What does it all mean?

The first, and the foundational mistake, is to misunderstand what branding is all about.  It’s not just about having a snappy logo, or a catchy tag line beneath your business name. It’s a deeper understanding of how you want the world to perceive your business. If your brand is how people view your business, your branding is the actions you take to cultivate those views.

Not recognising that branding happens whether you like it or not

You’ve decided that formally thinking about your brand identity and how you’ll promote it is something that’s not for you. Perhaps it’s a luxury only really suitable for your larger competitors. This is a huge mistake. Even if you don’t devote any time to thinking about your brand, it doesn’t mean customers won’t come to their own conclusions about your business. In effect, they’ll fill in the gaps. What they conclude may not be entirely positive.

Isn’t it better to try and shape your brand perception from the start?

Mistaking marketing for branding

All too often small businesses see marketing as a box ticking exercise. You’re on social media. Tick. You’ve got some web content. Tick. You’ve taken out an advert in the local media. Tick. With that all done, you’re free to concentrate on what really matters, right?

While all of these activities can be helpful, they will be much more effective if you have a coherent brand to communicate across those different marketing channels. Marketing is how you make people aware of your brand, your branding definition and what the brand is that you’re communicating. Marketing that’s rooted in solid branding will be far more coherent, compelling, and ultimately effective.

Being too edgy or playing it safe

In a rush to make an impact, brands often decide to give their branding an edgy, even confrontational, slant. While a measure of innovation can be positive when it comes to differentiating what you do from your competitors, it can all too often fall flat. Branding can be so angular it becomes impenetrable, or so different to what people might expect from your sector, that it’s confusing.

Conversely, another pitfall is to be so frightened of getting it wrong that you recreate what everyone else is doing, but perhaps not quite as well.  A good writer, artist or inventor understands the technicalities and traditions of their discipline, before they seek to subvert or change them. Let people see your unique insights and approach, but make sure you reassure them that you understand the basics.

Forgetting to be consistent

It’s no good having a considered brand strategy if it then isn’t used consistently by personnel, departments, marketing channels and in-house materials. Branding needs to be continually reinforced and revisited by everyone in the company, in both internal and external communications. It should help to shape the company culture until it becomes second nature. If you’re not consistent, then your brand identity will be patchy and confused. As a result. it will be much harder to communicate effectively.

All that said, it should be possible to remain consistent to the overall principles without stripping all traces of personality from your brand actions. Brand identity is a framework, not a straitjacket.

Never forget your roots

If your business has been established for some time and is now thinking about branding or rebranding for the first time, it’s important to build on the strengths of what you already have. Many customers will be familiar with the old branding and may not like being bounced into change. Make sure any new branding grows out of old branding. Even if you’ve not thought much about your branding previously, you’ll need to think about how you’re perceived by your customer base. What are the positives you’d like to build upon?

Don’t try too hard

Everyone wants their business to succeed but there’s dangers in trying too hard. Don’t rush your branding, or think you have to cover every possible detail and eventuality from the off. Branding which is allowed to develop gradually and organically from strong first principles, is usually far more robust and effective over the medium to long-term.

Don’t try to appeal to everyone

Similarly, your brand needs to be targeted and focused. Don’t make your branding so vague and general it doesn’t inadvertently appeal to anyone. Equally, in trying to bring in a new demographic, don’t alienate or confuse your existing customers.

Don’t go it alone

If you’ve got this far running your business on your own, learning new skills and developing your understanding of new areas, you might be tempted to develop your branding without any professional help.

Few people have the necessary complement of skills to do this successfully on their own. A branding agency can give you valuable insight based on their experience. They bring fresh eyes to your business, helping you to gain new perspectives.

Get in touch

At Dawn Creative, we give our branding clients direct access to our design and digital teams helping them deepen their understanding and build closer relationships. We will make sure you don’t make a costly mistake.

Contact us today to find out how we can help transform your branding and give your business the edge.

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