How many times have you seen a logo that you thought looked a bit odd? Or branding colours that physically hurt your eyes?

There are many horrific branding mistakes out there that don’t only make brands look bad, but seriously impact their growth. Sometimes, even well-known companies make common branding mistakes that end up costing them money—and customers.

Many new businesses don’t understand the true impact of building a brand

Firstly, you need to understand what a brand is. It’s not just a logo and name, it’s about telling a story that portrays who you are and why you’re the best in your industry.

Great branding uses all forms of communication to instil trust into your customers and reinforce good impressions that they may already have about your brand. It’s also a vehicle to offer a great experience at every touchpoint or interaction that a customer may have with your brand. 

Keep reading to find out a few of the biggest branding mistakes to avoid.

Branding mistakes to avoid

Many businesses face problems with branding. Here are some of the top branding mistakes to avoid when creating or refreshing your brand this year.

See also: Rebranding: Why, When & How?

1. Having a brand that looks like everyone else’s

Remember that your customers see hundreds of marketing ads, messages and videos every day. To cut through the noise, your brand needs to capture their attention.

How can you do that? By standing out visually and having a strong message. Your brand design should be memorable to your audience and unlike any other competitor in your space. 

If your customers can’t tell the difference, they’ll have no reason to pick you over your competitors. Make sure to use a unique design that helps your business stand out from the crowd. 

Before building your brand strategy, spend time researching your competitors. You can then start to differentiate your brand, its definition and what it does, who your customers are and how you want to speak to them. 

2. Being inconsistent with your brand identity

A common branding mistake for small businesses is inconsistency with your brand identity, specifically, logos or other visual assets.

Whether you mix and match different colour schemes on other channels or change your logos every few months, you will confuse your audience.

It’s wise to set up a branding style guide that keeps you accountable wherever you use visuals for your brand. And make sure that everyone working on your branding—from graphic design to social media and web design—has a clear understanding of your branding guidelines and sticks to them!

3. Not connecting with your target audience

Connecting with your ideal audience is crucial. While you may easily find styles or designers you like, that doesn’t necessarily mean that what you want is suitable for your business.

This disconnect is one of the problems with branding that many people don’t realise. 

Branding is a great way to help you connect with your customers more personally. To be successful and avoid common branding mistakes, you need to know a lot about your target audience, including who they are, their location, occupation, income level, and needs. 

Failing to do this could result in customers moving towards competitors. More than ever, customers rely on personalisation when looking to purchase. 

See also: Ethical Branding: A Guide for Building More Ethical Brands

4. Providing a bad branding experience

Customers are far more likely to share bad experiences over good ones. It’s unfortunate, but humans are driven by emotions, and bad experiences conjure up stronger emotions than good experiences. Why? Because good experiences are expected, bad ones are not.

Bad branding experiences include negative staff interactions (attitude or lack of knowledge), a poor understanding of their needs, not enough assistance available, or slow product/service delivery. 

Don’t fall into the trap of underestimating the importance of offering a good brand experience. Most importantly: brand experience is not only about the products or services you provide but also your website and every other touchpoint that represents your brand. 

Similarly, if you don’t live up to your brand’s promises, you’ll ruin your customers’ trust in your brand. Customers want to support brands that are honest, authentic, honest and live up to their promises.

5. Starting with a cheap, under-developed brand identity

One of the biggest branding mistakes to avoid is choosing a budget logo design and branding service. While you may think this is good for your budget, you can’t put a price on quality—especially for something as important as your branding.

Remember that you get what you pay for—if you are paying too little, you may receive stock images or logos made using free online websites. 

A good branding agency will give you guidelines for everything you will need for your brand—including typography, layouts, images, colours, and styles you will need. Remember, branding is so much more than just a logo! 

Make sure to ask for a portfolio of previous client work before deciding on a branding partner. 

See also: How to Choose a Branding Agency for your Startup

A few examples of branding mistakes

One of the problems with branding is that you need to be careful before launching to the public. Remember – quality work takes time!

See also: Examples of Great South African Brands

Here are some key examples of bad branding that you should avoid:

  • Inconsistent branding. This image of Yahoo logos highlights far too many unnecessary design variations and ultimately creates confusion for their audience. You need to ensure you are using the right colours, fonts, images and logos for all of your content. 
Bad branding example from Yahoo
  • Bad logo design. What’s the first thing you see when you look at the logo on the left? When designing logos, it’s so important to ensure that it doesn’t end up looking like something it shouldn’t. In this case, the result is a bit embarrassing for the brand and the redesign is a much better option. Always make sure to get a few opinions before picking a logo as everyone looks at things differently.
Branding mistakes to avoid
  • Branding that’s too simple. In recent years, we’re seeing a lot more minimalistic logos. For example, the logo on the right has become more plain than before. While not necessarily ‘bad branding’, it is a bit minimalistic and doesn’t really portray what the brand is about.
Branding mistake examples
  • Rebranding that misses the mark. Many companies opt to refresh their branding, but fail to test their new designs beforehand. Some branding mistake examples are Gap, Starbucks and Tropicana. In the below example, Tropicana tried to redesign their juice box, but eventually reverted to their old design after receiving backlash. Remember that your brand needs to connect with its target audience, first and foremost.
Branding mistakes examples

Don’t fall into the trap of bad branding

From inconsistent branding to overly-simplistic designs, it’s up to you to protect your brand’s identity.

The biggest branding mistakes to avoid include: inconsistency, using cheap online services that don’t deliver, offering a bad branding experience, disconnecting from your audience and not differentiating your brand. 
Branding is subjective. Which is why it helps to speak to a professional who truly understands how branding works. Get in touch with us at BigToe Creatives—we’ll help you build a brand that stands out, looks good and represents what you’re all about.

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