Who do you think of when you think about great branding? The vintage calligraphy-style lettering of Coca-Cola? Nike’s provocative swish or even the defined elegance of Apple. As a small business it’s important to understand the investment that goes into these brands and yes it can seem overwhelming but it doesn’t need to be – after all these big brands had to start from somewhere. Here are some mistakes to keep you ahead of the curve.
1. Not understanding the power of a brand.
Think about the strongest brand you know. What makes it the strongest? There are a lot of variables that make a brand strong, a perfect example of this is Google. Who says “Oh let me just search for that on the internet” that’s right, nobody, they say “Hold on, I’ll Google it!” This is the power of a brand.
Your brand is everything. It’s not just your logo, it’s every experience that your customer has with you. If you provide a great service or the best product consistently for long enough your brand builds trust and dependability, and most of all if you keep your foot on the gas you can become the strongest brand you own.
2. Brand guidelines are not there to be forgotten.
When you develop and brand it is compulsory to create brand guidelines. This way everyone who uses your brand sing from the same hymn sheet, which in turn builds brand consistency. So always remember no guidelines your brand goes bye-byes. Establish your brand guidelines and make sure you cover everything below
- Brand identities (Main brand, sub brands, product identities, services etc…)
- Brand colour palettes (Primary and secondary)
- Strap lines, brand promise
- Font families and typographic usage
- Brand “voice” and general messaging – used in all branded materials
- Image usage
- Additional graphic elements usage
There is tonnes more things to consider but having these items all in place is going to make your life a hell of a lot easier. A simple exercise is to ask yourself and your team one question and be ready with a pen to write down all the answers and build your own list. “Where will our customers see our brand?” Then build guides around its usage.
3. Overcomplicating your brand.
So many new businesses overcomplicate their brands; whether it’s trying too many things at once without sticking to one or simply not giving a brand solution time to flourish. It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t without testing but that’s what the professionals are for.
Look at how Coca Cola’s vintage calligraphy lettering has changed in 127 years. It’s minimal, they perfected it and barely changed it. So simple! Your logo doesn’t need to have hundred different colours, or a graphic element that’s so complex by the time you get it on your business card it’s unrecognisable. Clean, simple – yet clever – elements will be well remembered by customers, it’s a fact, Apple are a perfect example. So, avoid overcomplicating your brand and become recognised by the world!
4. Don’t be a cheater.
After all the time you spend get your brand guidelines in check it would be a sad state of affairs if people began misusing them. Maybe someone says “Just this once our logo could be this colour” or “Maybe we can just pop it over the image like this” say NO! Your brand guidelines are put in place to ensure consistency, if it starts looking untidy and unprofessional because someone wants to deviate then that’s how you will look to your audience and no one wants that right?!
With every deviation your brand will die a little inside and begin to lose its strength. Make sure you stay on track and you will be well on your way to creating a solid brand. Also, side note be sure to police the usage of your brand, just til everyone is onboard.
5. Moving the goal posts without telling the ref.
Rebranding is important for some businesses. If you are looking stale or your business diversifies, but please, if you are going to rebrand do it properly and note any changes made to your existing brand will affect the connection you’ve built with your customers. Make sure when changing your brand your communication with your existing audience is crucial.
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