In today’s global marketplace, your company’s brand identity sets you apart from competitors and helps you reach potential customers worldwide. When considering your brand, keep in mind these five mistakes that many companies make. By avoiding them, you can establish a brand that customers will trust for years to come.
1. Not defining your brand
Quick: what is your brand? If you don’t have an answer, you may be losing out to cheaper and no-name competitors. It’s important to remember that your product is not your brand. Generic and store-brand items are priced lower than their branded competitors for a reason.
Nike’s brand is not defined by its footwear. It’s also not just the Swoosh logo. By establishing itself as a fitness lifestyle company, Nike has been able to introduce new products and services to an audience primed to trust its offerings and pay a premium for its products.
When establishing your brand, keep in mind what your product or service is. Consider what makes your offering better or different than anyone else’s. Your brand defines your relationship with buyers and gives you credibility.
2. Inconsistent brand guidelines
If you asked the person posting to your Twitter feed what type of images they use to promote your brand, would their answer be the same as the person developing your website? If you don’t have a well-defined brand guideline, then you are missing out. Having a well-defined brand that is consistent on all platforms helps customers recognize you. Your brand image and voice must be consistent every time you contact a potential customer.
Your brand guidelines should include:
- All acceptable versions of your logo and when to use them
- Brand colors, including specific values for print and web
Typographyused in digital and print media
- Descriptions and examples of imagery used in marketing materials
You may want to develop other sections specific to your company. These could include templates for responding to customer inquiries and wireframe for new products added to the website. Whatever your brand guideline is, make sure it is available to anyone working for you and that you enforce its requirements.
3. Chasing trends
Have you ever seen a picture of you or a family member from the 1980s, or even 2010? That hair! The more “modern” the design, the faster it becomes outdated. A quick internet search finds dozens of logo trends for 2019. Only a few of these will survive into 2020, much less 2030 and beyond.
Even big brands have been harmed by chasing trends. In 2010, Gap tried to refresh its image and relate to a younger, trendier audience by changing its classic square logo. Its audience revolted. Fortunately, Gap was able to recognize its mistake and change back to its original branding in less than a week. Would your company be able to withstand such a mistake? Make sure you choose your company’s image and branding carefully and don’t fall victim to the latest design trends.
Failure to change with the times is just as big a mistake as changing for the wrong reason. Where would Apple be now if it insisted on being “Apple Computer, Inc” of the 1980s? Apple is one of the largest companies now because it expanded its original mission and redefined its brand to hit a current audience. At the same time, its six-color logo was retired and replaced with a white apple to reflect the change in the company.
Look at your brand and make sure that speaks to your intended audience as well now as it did when it was first defined. As your audience grows and shifts, you should make sure your brand grows along with it.
After you spend time, money, and effort into establishing your brand reputation, your brand itself will have value. Counterfeits may emerge. If your product is unique, people might start using your brand name to describe generic versions. If you’re not careful, you may lose control of your trademarks. Kleenex is used to describe all generic facial tissues because of this mistake.
Make sure that you monitor how your brand is being talked about and what your competitors are up to. By making sure that your copyright and trademarks are protected, you can protect customers from being duped into buying counterfeit, inferior products. And you can ensure that the value of your brand is not diminished by imposters.
Branding is vital to compete in today’s global marketplace. By avoiding these mistakes, you can help your company thrive for years to come.
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