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Five Branding Mistakes to Avoid



Marketing | Small Business

By James Harkness

Most people don’t really understand branding. They think that they know what it is; they know that it can help a business, yet they are unsure of exactly what to do and how to do it. People underestimate the power of branding, however if I ask you for the first brands that pop into mind when I say soft drink, take away and search engine, I’m sure that the most of you answered Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Google. I’m not psychic, but I am very aware of how powerful branding is to a business.

After decades of building brands, I’ve seen the same mistakes pop-up time and time again. Here are my top 5 branding mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1 – Thinking that your logo is your brand

This is the most common mistake. The reality is that apples don’t sell computers! It’s the brand, not the logo that engages and connects with the customer. The Apple brand is about innovation, pioneering new ground, and designing products that not only look beautiful, but will also sync your entire life. The apple symbol simply tells you where you can buy the product and as a consumer it shows others what you own, or what you are aligned with. The logo is an important visual connection, but it is not your brand.

Mistake #2 – Not having a brand personality

Understanding your brand personality is the first step that is often missed when it comes to branding. Knowing ‘who’ you are as a brand is critical – after all, if you don’t know who you are, how are your customers supposed to know. Once you know who your brand is and what kind of personality your brand has, so many pieces of the puzzle will fall into place. The colours you choose, the language and tone of your brand, even the brand experience will all be built off your brand personality. To find out what you brand personality is go to www.brandpersonalities.com.au

Mistake #3 – Focusing on what you do not how you do it

Most people are quick to tell you what it is that they do and leave out the critical part – which is ‘how’ they do it. Knowing how you do things is strongly built off your brand personality. It is far more powerful than trying to build a business simply on what you do. After all, every dentist does the same thing. However, not every dentist does it the same way. When I was a child, my dentist used to get us to choose cool sunnies to wear and pick music to listen to before we even had to sit in the chair. The visit was enjoyable and has left me with good memories not bad ones. To this day, I have no issue going to see my dentist.

Mistake #4 – No brand promise

A lot of business owners never think about having a brand promise. What is the one thing that you can promise your client and know you can delivery on? In my branding studio, it is ‘to create designs you can be proud of’. That’s our promise and we keep this front of mind in everything that we do. We don’t promise to create the most prolific brochure, the most popular website or the most famous logo. Why? Because we know that it isn’t possible. We can however create designs that our clients can be proud of. Our systems and processes along the client journey help us deliver on that promise.

Misake #5 – Using an untrained designer

Too many people opt for a cheap logo by using websites like Fivver or 99 Designs. Even worse I have seen people get their best friends daughter to design their logo because they are good at art! This is your business! Would you leave your newborn in the hands of a child or someone who is untrained to look after your baby? So why do this with your brand? This activity usually results in a rebrand after a year or two and ends up costing far more than the initial investment would have. Back yourself. Engage a trained professional who understands branding and show your customers just how serious you are about your business.


About the author

Debbie O’Connor is an internationally award winning brand strategist, keynote speaker, mentor, expert guest on the 12 part Build My Brand series. She’s also the founder and Creative Director of multi-award winning branding studio WRD, and CEO of The Creative Fringe which is listed on Australia’s 100 Coolest Companies. Find out more at www.debbieobrands.com

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