The Four Top Mistakes Business Owners Make In Branding Their Business
When I meeting with businesses who need help in improving their visibility in their market, one of the first things they ask me is “what do you think about my logo?”
Can I be completely honest? I don’t think anything about your logo.
Don’t get me wrong, logos are extremely important. But, as the leader of a marketing agency, I just don’t care.
Well, that’s not true. I do care
I just don’t care about what it looks like — not just yet.
I care about what your customers or prospects think about when they see it.
We’ll talk a little more about logo development next week. But, today, I want to talk about four of the most common mistakes I see in business leaders efforts to grow their business. The same is true for online marketers and offline.
Although, to be honest, if you’re not online these days, it’s doubtful you’ll be open offline in a few years.
The importance of a clearly recognizable brand is a highly effective way to get more customers. It will increase the public’s awareness of your company, and will lift your business to new heights.
That’s why, when I get started helping businesses, they immediately ask me about their logos.
Yes, my company does handle logo creation and overhaul projects. And, yes, they’re a necessary part of branding your company. But, the first thing of importance is to realize that a logo does not a brand (or a company) make.
Having a strong brand (public presence, not just logo) will create more opportunities for you. And, that public presence will mean that every aspect of your business will help to strengthen every other aspect.
But, brand creation isn’t easy. And, it is much more than a graphical image you’ll use to indicate what your business name is. That’s why there are very few websites that have strong presence and identity. I’ve failed in these four areas myself. But, luckily, I had done enough work for other businesses the the word-of-mouth (barely) made up for my failures.
Here are the four most common mistakes I see in businesses (not just my clients) make when they create their brand:
- A Lack of Consistency in Your Brand’s Appearance and Use
- Poor Visual Communication with Your Brand
- Missed Opportunities to Include Your Brand on Everything
- A Lack of Self-Awareness When it Comes to Your Branding
A Lack of Consistency in Your Brand’s Appearance and Use
Your brand’s visual look and it’s use are extremely vital to your business.
As a consumer of business marketing, it makes no sense to have a logo shape if you don’t have consistent corporate colors. And, likewise, it does no good to have consistent colors, if your logo isn’t consistent in it’s presentation, either.
If your corporate colors on your website are teal, pink and baby blue, then, why would you change the colors on your sign, simply because your sign maker couldn’t find the Pantone Color Matches in time to get your sign complete when you opened?
If that’s the situation, get a black and white sign made for temporary purposes, and then get the color sign printed when the printer can do what you want!
Well, a black and white sign won’t distract much attention from the fact that the logo isn’t the same color as every other appearance of your logo. But, if you start changing colors here and there, well, people start wondering if someone stole your logo or not.
Plus, if your logo is teal, pink and baby blue (which, in my opinion is about one or two colors too many) on your sign, or door, then, it better be teal, pink and baby blue on your website, on your Facebook Page, on your Instagram account, on your YouTube Channel, on your Twitter page, and on your Pinterest page, too.
Not only that, you may have noticed that I post blog content on Thursdays.
That’s my gig.
It’s a part of my brand consistency.
Hey, I’m not dumb. I don’t write all of these articles on Thursday afternoons. But, I schedule them for release in the 4 o’clock hour on Thursday afternoons. I’m consistent about it. It’s part fo what I’m known for. Because it’s part of my brand.
Consistency in. your branding consists of every aspect of your business, not just some logo you got made on Powerpoint.
One of my biggest failures with this website years ago wast that my brand wasn’t consistent in terms of content on this site.
I had articles connected to my spiritual life, which is very important to me.
There were self-help articles. And famous quotes, and all sorts of stuff on this blog.
Until I just got frustrated with knowing who I was (let alone my customers)(, and deleted everything.
Please, don’t make the failure of being inconsistent in all the ways you represent your business! Make a commitment today:
I will be consistent and focused on communicating who I am for my customers consistently and honestly.
Your brand is your visual representation of your values… always remember that.
The point of having a consistent visual representation of your values is that it should tell your customers (and prospects) that you have a sense fo quality and predictability about you. People should know that something with you logo on it will be something they will benefit from and enjoy.
Don’t let your website be like mine was, talking about Jesus one week, and about marketing the next, and building chicken coops on the third week. Be FOCUSED.
Poor Visual Communication with Your Brand
Another common failure with businesses and their brands is poor visual communication with the brand.
Your business does need a strong logo. And, it needs visuals that become a “character” in your advertising, web design, social media, and even in your office.
Aesthetics are important aspect in branding. Without the strong logo and consistent visual representation of your business, your brand isn’t going to be memorable to your customers and users. Your logo must be professionally designed. And, it must be professionally applied and used with consistency (there’s that word again).
Back when I was writing show notes for podcasters, I started using the phrase “I know a guy,” a lot when talking about the need for SEO (search engine optimization) for podcaster’s websites. Once I decided that my brand was going to be the “Show Notes Guy,” I decided to use that tagline: I Know a Guy.
So, when I was in online groups and forums, and I heard podcasters complain about website visitor numbers being down, I’d start talking (with facts, including links to OTHER websites) about the value of having well-written, well-formed, consistently good articles written about their podcasts to attract Google to their websites. And, then, I’d say something like, if you need articles like these on your website, I know a guy.
That guy just happened to be me — The Show Notes Guy.
So, when I went to get a logo designed. I wanted just a headshot caricature.
But, I didn’t want just a guy. I wanted it to look a little bit like me. 😀 I also wanted it to look like “a guy.”
Not just any guy. A “connected” guy. You know, one of those who, when the dom wanted something done, his buddies would tell him, “Hey! I know a guy!”
I loved the connotations of the whole thing.
The guy was “connected” — the internet is “connected”
The guy was handy getting the right things done — I was handy getting the right things done when it came to SEO for podcasters.
The guy was discreet when he got things done — I never used my name as the author of the articles. You could think of it as me being a “ghostwriter,” and the “silent partner.”
The guy was always neatly dressed – well, I wasn’t neatly dressed, I worked in my jeans. But, my logo was me in a black fedora with a blue band. And guess what my corporate colors were?
You’re right! Black and blue!
Now, here’s where I messed up. After I stopped writing Show Notes for podcasters, I tried to keep the logo for the work I was doing for other companies to market their businesses. I thought, “I can know a guy for that, too!” Right?
Well.. it didn’t communicate as well with my new clientele.
Why? Because I didn’t have the time to invest in telling them what I did, how I did it and why.
Not at first, anyway.
Then, when I got so busy, I still didn’t have time, because I was focused on fixing client’s problems, not mine!
Missed Opportunities to Include Your Brand on Everything
Take a second or two, and think about everything in your business that has printing on it.
Now, think about this — how many of those things don’t have your logo on it?
One reason many business owners despise a retooling of their brand is because of the problem caused by this very important truth:
Every business card, every social media account, invoice, email, letterhead, notepad, card, envelope, sign, email… EVERYTHING that can have a logo on it, better have a logo on it.
Don’t ever miss any opportunity to communicate your business to your customers and prospects.
I talked a week or so ago about Mr Boyles’ Insurance Agency, and how he knew all of his customers from being at the baseball field every day, remember? I failed to mention, that all four of the baseball fields in the complex had his name, phone number and logo in the exact same place on every fence. Talk about consistency. And, talk about not missing opportunities.
Sure, he handed out business cards from time to time.
But, he really didn’t have to…. they saw it every practice and every game every time they looked out to left-center field!
That’s how you need to be thinking about your logo and brand. Be everywhere your customers are. Especially if you control where it is!
Now, while I’m talking about being everywhere your customers is. That include social media!
If there’s a social media platform out there, you need to be using it. And, your logo needs to be included on everything you post, if possible.
At the very least, it should be on your profile picture of your Facebook Page, your Twitter page, your Instagram page, and your Pinterest page. Heck, even though Google Plus isn’t used very much anymore, go on and put it there!
The idea is to “be everywhere.”
Sometime in the future, I’ll teach you an advertising hack that makes your customers think you’re following them around. Until then, do everything within your power to be in as many places as possible. That way, every time they see your logo, they’ll think of. you!
And, if you’re focused on giving your customer value because you value and appreciate them? Well… they’ll value you, too!
A Lack of Self-Awareness When it Comes to Your Branding
The final common failure of most businesses when marketing themselves is the failure to understanding themselves in relation to their branding.
I talked about my Show Notes Guy branding a few paragraphs ago.
Here’s an image of my caricature’s headshot:
Let’s study this a bit. Notice the blue eyes? It’s a very noticeable feature of mine. (I’m not bragging, just reporting what I’ve heard)
Now, see the color of the fedora band? It looks a little brighter than the eyes, but, that’s because the blue is surrounded on all sides by black and it’s much smaller than the fedora band.
The point is this.
My website carried the logo in the top banner. And, in the sign-off of every article at the bottom of the page. And, in one of four rotating ads on my site. (An ad for my business and for three other related business I got commissions for when they sold.”
And, not only that, but there were only three colors on my website. Headlines and titles were blue. Text were black, and the background was white. Even the images I searched for to include as illustration of my site were filtered to make sure there was at least some blue in them.
You have to think about things like this.
You’re creating the way people see you. So, you need to be objective and realistic.
That was where I failed… I wasn’t exactly “realistic.”
I was branding myself for any podcaster — the newbie, the under-funded, the tinkerer. And, it just about broke me! I was providing a service that should have cost thousands of dollars a month for, on average, about $200 a month. (see why I closed the business down?)
f you’re a one-man-band tinkering in your free time, then don’t try and brand yourself as a global corporate enterprise. Even if you’re good at “pulling it off” with your customers, eventually, your dishonesty will crush you. Just don’t do it.
Be aware of who you are, what you can do, and the true value of that service or product you provide.