10 Branding Mistakes Small Businesses Make
We can all admit to a fashion faux pas, hair disaster, bad relationship choice or decision to have that tequila shot that seemed like such a good idea at the time! But how many of us can recognise or accept the mistakes we make with our business and our brand. First this is not to suggest that all small businesses struggle with their branding; some very large businesses struggle with their branding too. And there are many small businesses out there who have exceptional brands and approaches to market.
But, lack of big marketing budgets, time and focus can mean that there are some common pitfalls that small business owners unwittingly fall into.
1. A brand is not just a logo
‘Hi, I need a brand redesign’. ‘Brilliant, can we come and talk to you about your business strategy, research your market and speak to your internal and external audience’. ‘Why?’ ‘So we can get a better understanding of your uniqueness and communicate that more effectively through the brand redesign’. ‘But I only want a logo’.
And there you have it. Without being well informed about what is happening in the market and what your client wants, at best you will create a nice looking logo. Why is that a problem? Because it runs the risk of being undifferentiated, irrelevant or unappealing (as far as your audience is concerned).
2. Poor quality print
You can have a beautiful waterfront mansion on Sydney Harbour, but if you put cheap 1-ply carpet on the floor and hang wood chip wallpaper (no offence to the 1970s), it will also be a bit low rent. The same goes for print. You get what you pay for. The best design and marketing message is compromised by poor quality paper, a lack luster print job and peeling laminate or a trim that isn’t quite straight.
3. Inconsistent use of your brand
When in the presence of an overtired child or an overexcited dog, you never quite know where you stand. The same goes for a bi-polar brand. Blue one minute, red the next. With an icon. Without an icon. Discounted rates or high quality premium. If you don’t know what or who you are neither will your audience. And then everyone’s confused.
4. Over communicating
We often ask for the 3 things that are unique about you. We almost always get a list back of 10+ things. Being focused, being able to recognise what is just industry standard and being aware of what your competitors are saying is tough. If you can cut through the noise and get to the point, or more importantly your point, then your audience will be able to bond with you far more easliy.
5. Not communicating ‘what you do for me’
We’ve mentioned knowing what’s unique about you. But those unique things can’t be that you can juggle with 5 balls, you once met Prince Charles or your other passion is breeding rare pigs. And it’s not enough to say ‘what’ you do. ‘We clean windows’, ‘We provide car insurance’, ‘We train your staff’. Think about what you do for your audience. What do they gain, personally and professionally. ‘We help you create a sparkling clean home you can be proud of’, ‘we find the best insurance to protect you and your family’’, ‘we create better teams to deliver high value business outcomes’. Do you get me?
6. A website that doesn’t reflect you in your best light
Websites are important. Often overlooked in favour of Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram and Linkedin accounts. A decade ago businesses were investing heavily in their new shop front, but like most things that become mass market, websites have become horribly commoditised. With the development of WordPress, DIY tools and design templates, just about anyone can build a website. But is it just me? Do they all look very similar, fail to communicate any kind of meaningful brand story and quite honestly just feel a bit amateur. It’s time for the website revival. Websites don’t want to be sat on the commodity shelf anymore. If you feel like you’ve seen it before it’s because you probably have. It’s time to launch a new probe into cyberspace and create some new territory. Apologies for the bad analogy, it just felt right!
7. Out of date of old information
How many times have you visited a website and the latest blog was written in 2012. Or there are testimonials dating back to 2009. Old news. Actually its not, it may still be very relevant. But it looks like you haven’t updated your content for quite some time. Which is probabably true. The moral of the story a) don’t date things that don’t necessarily have to go out of date, b) keep your content fresh. Even if it’s just a quick share, comment or blog once a week.
8. Small and often
So many of us are becoming disillusioned with marketing, whether it’s using social media, local press advertising or a well developed website. But if you only put 1 ad or post up once in a blue moon, it just won’t have any impact. Use your budget and your time wisely. Small and often will go a lot further than few and far between.
9. Looking small
There are a number of things that can immediately make you look like you’re working out of your garden shed. And if the artisan, personal touch is what you want for your business if could be a very powerful marketing strategy. However for everyone else, avoid over personalising with pictures of you and lots of personal references, things can be done cost effectively but they don’t have to look like they were done on a shoe string.
10. Listening to everyone other than their target market
When working with a manufacturer of heavy industrial machinery, we had arrived at a brand expression that everyone felt was right. That was until the CEO announced, ‘I showed this to my 18 year old daughter who’s doing textile design at university and she hated it .’ Oh dear, that’s a shame. But it’s not a problem. Why? Well there are several reasons, perhaps too many to mention but primarily: you can’t please all of the people all of the time. And if you try to you won’t please anyone. It’s not necessarily what you or anyone else likes. It’s what your audience will love, respond to and remember. So before you ask your cousin’s, girlfriend’s, boss’s chiropractor what he thinks about your concept for a new teenage clothing brand, find out if he’s a 16 year old girl interested in fashion.
If you think you might have unwittingly fallen into any of these tricky marketing traps don’t despair! Take stock, talk to a professional, and put it right!