We never let our clients make branding mistakes, but here is a list we put together of what we think are the biggest branding mistakes you want to always avoid.
Some may seem obvious – others not so much. You’d still be surprised how many companies still do this today despite our warnings and podcast they could be listening to. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The #1 Biggest Brand Mistake Made by Organizations
It’s consistency … or, more to the point, a LACK of consistency. This applies to just about everything you do in your brand, but it especially rings true when you look at how you create your identity.
Reminder: Your identity (not your brand) is your logo, tagline, fonts, colors, images, slogans, design ideas … anything where you are “recognized.”
The most common mistakes are made when you have different designers creating pieces for you and you haven’t clearly defined to both of them what standards to follow. Easy fix: Create a style guide!
This idea of consistency, however, also applies to EVERYTHING else you do for your brand. Is your word usage consistent? The tone and voice of your messaging? How you interact with customers? SMM posts? EVERYTHING!
The 2nd Biggest Brand Mistake Made by Organizations
This is also a consistency issue – picking the wrong images. Every single image you use should portray your brand and represent your brand archetype. A good image for one brand might not work for another one. Of course, the quality of the image is important, but what we are talking about here is the subject matter of the picture is of, the energy level going on, and the emotion or feeling it invokes.
A less obvious mistake is not having images at all! Remember, with your brand, you’re CONSTANTLY trying to tell a story. Nothing does this easier and more soundly than including the right visuals – both static images and videos. Pick the right visuals and your story will come to life. Eliminate the visuals and your content becomes grey text that’s easy to ignore.
The 3rd Biggest Brand Mistake Made by Organizations
Taglines! Either having a bad one or not having one at all. Here are common mistakes when it comes to tag lines:
- Not having one. The tagline might be your biggest opportunity to cement the essence of your brand. Not your product, service, or company…your BRAND. For example, “Just Do It” is Nike’s heroic tagline that has nothing to do with shoes, and yet, just about everyone you know could tell you what Nike’s tagline is when asked.
- Not having a memorable tagline. This usually comes from writing one that’s clunky and too long. Here’s a tip: Ask one of your employees or a long-standing client, “What’s our tagline?” If they don’t remember it, it’s probably not good.
ProTip: Taglines vs. Slogans. Taglines are short, tight, easy-to-remember blurbs that have more to do with the brand than the company, product, or service. Slogans can be longer and generally have more information – about the company, product/service, and are less brand-oriented.
If you’d like a refresher on the difference between a tagline and a slogan (and what makes them good), go back to Episode 5: Taglines and Slogans.
The 4th Biggest Brand Mistake Made by Organizations
Not creating a corporate culture infused with your brand! These two things need to be intermingled and dependant on each other … they’re strongest when they’re built up in parallel. One fix is to make sure you train all your employees (and new employees, when they get hired) about your brand strategy and what they should expect in the corporate culture. Having no training is a sure-fire way to let inconsistency seep into your brand. This is so important we gave it two episodes.
The 5th Biggest Brand Mistake Made by Organizations
Don’t let your brand get stale. Let it evolve as needed.
A big word of caution here: There’s a difference between wholesale updating an identity because you’re bored with it (bad. Very bad!) vs. recognizing some brand elements are feeling dated and strategically updating them. A great example of this was back in 2003, UPS recognized their logo was feeling a little dated. They spruced it up and made it feel more contemporary without losing its essence. The change was subtle enough, few people even noticed that it happened.
The 6th Biggest Brand Mistake Made by Organizations
Avoid excessive brand extensions.
First a definition: A brand extension is when you expand the ground your brand covers. This could be adding new products, new services, slivering off new corporate divisions, purchasing new companies, expanding into new markets.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these ideas, but it should be pretty obvious, with each of these steps, the brand itself now has to take on more duties WITHOUT losing effectiveness. Do this once or twice and it’s not usually a problem. Do this 50 times and you’ll find your brand strategy falls apart in front of you. As an example, take a look at Richard Branson’s Virgin Corporation.
Virgin Records, Virgin comics, Virgin radio, Virgin megastore, Virgin holidays, Virgin casino, Virgin games, Virgin drinks, Virgin Media, Virgin Money, Virgin life care, Virgin coffee, and even Virgin wines.
How’d you like to try to keep power and consistency while managing that brand?
One Last Tip on Biggest Branding Mistakes to Avoid
Making brand mistakes is, in and of itself, a mistake! The best brands in the world stay true to their strategy darn near 100% of the time! Even small, subtle mistakes can find their way into your process. You have to seek out these mistakes RABIDLY! Shoot them down and fix the processes that allowed them in the first place. This takes commitment and dedication. It’s time-consuming, for sure. BUT, it’s a lot easier to put in the time to keep a strong brand than it is to FIX a broken brand! Let me say that again…. “It’s a lot easier to put in the time to keep a strong brand than it does to FIX a broken brand!”
Questions? Call us! … Are you willing to cop to a brand mistake you’ve made in the past? What challenges came from it? What happened exactly? Did you fix it? We would LOVE to hear your story.