Common Branding Mistakes SMEs Make


Over the years, governments around the world have lowered barriers to entry of different industries. Thanks to a shift in the attitude of governments, competition in almost all industries are heating up. Blending in is no longer good enough; businesses have to think outside the box to stand out from the crowd. Businesses that are content with being just another face in the crowd today run the risk of sinking into oblivion tomorrow.

To survive and thrive in a cut-throat business environment, businesses need to carve out a niche that will set them apart in the eyes of their customers. To rise above the competition, every business needs to create a unique brand identity. Branding helps businesses achieve exactly that.

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What is branding?

Branding involves building a strong brand identity. This can be achieved by creating a name, symbol, logo, and/or design that can be identified as belonging to the company. The essence of the idea is to create a unique image in the mind of the business’s target audience. An effective brand strategy can give a business a significant edge in increasingly competitive markets. Branding not only makes a memorable impression on consumers but also gives them an idea of what to expect. Branding generates new customers, improves employee satisfaction, and helps build trust. To maximize your branding, you need to come up with a brand message that is aligned with your brand persona. Create a voice that reflects your brand. Most importantly, deliver on your brand promise to give customers a reason to keep coming back and refer you to other people.

Branding mistakes to avoid

Branding should not be viewed as a magic wand that can make a brand identity crisis disappear overnight. Branding is more than just a buzzword. Many businesses fail to get branding right. Even a seemingly innocuous mistake can sabotage a brand. In the past, many prominent brands have paid a hefty price for branding mistakes.

Take, for instance, Colgate. In 1982, the renowned oral hygiene products manufacturer decided to foray into the frozen food market by launching its line of frozen entrees named Colgate Kitchen Entrees. Till date, the project is regarded as one of Colgate’s major failures. People were simply not willing to buy food from a brand that is heavily associated with oral hygiene products. A heavyweight such as Colgate can survive such devastating blows, but what about SMEs? Even a minor branding mistake can hit SMEs where it hurts the most putting a huge question mark on their identity. Oftentimes, SMEs eagerly to jump on the branding bandwagon. They overlook the importance of getting the basics right. To help you navigate the challenges of building a sustainable brand, we have compiled a list of branding mistakes to avoid.

Inconsistency across platforms

Consistency is the key to building a strong brand identity. Consistency helps build trust and a recognizable image. Inconsistency, on the other hand, is often associated with unprofessionalism and trust deficit. To make your brand identity more consistent, coordinate your visual assets across all marketing channels, including your website, social media accounts, ads, and print materials. When in doubt, refer to your brand’s style guide. Make sure your target audience sees and hear your name, colors logo, and tagline consistently. Maintaining consistency will play a vital role in influencing your buyers’ purchase decisions.

Using poorly written copies

When it comes to creating a strong brand identity, the importance of writing killer copies cannot be emphasized enough. Using over the top or vague copies is a strict NO. Many brands rely on buzzwords that everyone else is using. This defeats the entire purpose of branding. To improve your value proposition, use words, phrases, and sentences that highlight how your business is different from others. Avoid using over the top lines. Instead, go for realistic lines that build trust. Focus on benefits instead of features. Avoid sounding monotonous. To drive your point home, use a natural and conversational tone.

Relying heavily on trends

In todays era of constant consumption, something is always trending. Many brands commit the mistake of relying heavily on a trend only to find out later that it was a fad. While there is no harm in keeping an eye on design trends and drawing inspirations from them, make sure your brand’s core identity doesn’t get lost. Avoid commiting heavily to a trend. When planning your next major redesign, use only those trends that can help reinforce your brand’s identity for inspiration.

Failing to consider how your brand will be received globally

Because they operate in their local market, many SMEs do not feel the need to address a global audience. This short-sightedness can cost them dearly when they decide to go global. To avoid this branding pitfall, you need to put your thinking caps on and decide how you want your brand to be perceived globally. Steer clear of offensive brand messages. To connect with your target audience, localize your message. And by localization, we don’t mean word-to-word translation. Your localized messages must capture the essence of the core message. Before venturing into a new market, learn everything there is to know about the local culture. To avoid a public backlash, practice cultural sensitivity.

Failure to focus on your strengths

Oftentimes businesses get so obsessed with trying something new that they fail to focus on the things that made them successful in the first place. A classic example of a brand committing this mistake is Gap’s attempt to rebrand itself by ditching their classic square logo in favor of minimalist logo design. The change triggered a major backlash, forcing the retailer to go back to their roots within a week. While there is no harm in experimenting with new ideas, it is important that you keep your brand’s values and core images at the forefront when working on a redesign campaign.

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