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7 Brand Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Business

As a business owner, you likely have the desire to build a high-impact brand that generates an abundance of referrals, commands premium prices, and enjoys a reputation of being remarkable. But before you get there, there are a few myths that need to be dispelled and some mistakes that need to be avoided.

Mistake 1. Assuming your brand is your logo.

The original sin of branding is thinking that your logo is your brand. It isn’t. Your brand isn’t your company name, it isn’t the colours you choose to represent your company, and it isn’t your website.

Many companies still believe by investing in a better logo or website design, their brand will be improved. That's not how it works. Your brand is made up of much more than just 'visuals'. We invite you to reconsider your definition of brand as ‘your customers' gut feeling about your product, service or company’ (source Marty Neumeier).

By taking the time to create a long-term approach toward influencing your customer's perception of you, you're more likely to build a stronger and profitable brand.

Mistake 2. The fear of being boldly different

Founders often think that being drastically different is too risky. Naturally, they want their businesses to succeed and fear by doing what has never been done before, they'll be laughed at or rejected.

Instead, they choose to play it safe, seek out success stories, and attempt to mimic best practices or look at what their competitors are up to and attempt to imitate them.

The reason this is a huge mistake is that the strategy or tactics that work so well for other competitors, might not be in alignment for you. When you try to imitate rather than innovate, over time, customers eventually catch on and it becomes a race to the bottom.

It can also have a negative effect on your bottom line. When you under-commit to being different, it leads to lower prices and lower margins because now you’re on the edge of being a commodity.

You need to stand out from the crowd to set yourself apart from the rest of the competition. The best way to do this is to find the whitespace in your market. What are some opportunities that aren’t already being filled by other brands? To make this work, you must have something both different and compelling to your customers, not just something that works for yourself as a business owner.

Embracing your brand's significant difference can lead to premium pricing, higher margins, and a reputation for excellence.

Mistake 3. Treating Branding as a marketing problem

With so many plates to spin, business owners, tend to believe they don’t have time to brand. The ownership of branding gets palmed off to an agency or marketing division.

Branding isn’t a marketing function – it’s a founder-level problem. Great Founders will consider how their brand can be leveraged as one of the company’s biggest assets. Without a Founder-level focus, no amount of money spent on advertising, marketing, or PR will save you from the inevitable fate of being lost in the crowd.

Whilst agencies and marketing functions help drive traffic and awareness to the business, without a Founder providing brand direction, it often leads to misaligned messaging, poor branding, and a low ROI on awareness or sales conversion initiatives.

For your brand to be successful, a brand strategy needs to be created alongside the Founder with board-level input and buy-in from the entire company.

Mistake 4. The belief that your business owns your brand

A common misconception business owners have, is thinking they own their brand. With that logic, they assume they can manufacture a brand in a boardroom.

The idea that you own your own brand is a fallacy because when we define a brand as ‘your customer’s gut feeling about you’, then they own that feeling, not you.

When we tell our customers what to think and how they should feel about us, they almost always reject it. Why? Because as humans, we hate being told what to think and how to feel, it makes us distrust companies. In the immortal words of branding legend, Marty Neumeier, ‘A brand isn’t what you say it is, it is what they say it is’

When you adopt the philosophy, that you own the company, but your customer owns your brand, you can start to design an ecosystem of touchpoints that influence your customer’s gut feeling.

Mistake 5. Wasting money and time creating clutter & noise.

Are you guilty of thinking that to generate sales, you need to tell your audience about the wonderful features or benefits of working with/buying from you?

Here’s the harsh reality: customers hate being sold to. Even though they love to buy products and services, customers tune out the language of ‘features and benefits’ as white noise, resulting in our branding efforts yielding poor sale conversions.

To overcome this, you need to focus instead on communicating how your business builds your customer’s identity. Your business needs to ask itself, ‘if customers buy our products or services, what will it make them or who will they become?’

Mistake 6. Branding for customers (instead of humans)

Business owners can often lose sight of the fact that their customers are real people with feelings, emotions, and desires.

Brand-building often prioritises brand initiatives that will raise brand awareness, visibility, and recognition instead of strengthening connection and engagement.

However, studies consistently show that purchasing decisions are driven mostly by emotion. Whilst it may seem like rational choices lead us to choose one product over another, on average, 95% of us make decisions about brands subconsciously. This tells us that customers decide using their emotions first, then rationalise those decisions with logic.

When designing campaigns, failing to appeal to the subconscious minds of our audience can lead to poor ROI on our branding, marketing, or PR initiatives.

The best way to influence your audience is by giving your brand character. Research shows, when brands are humanised like people (i.e a living organism with a pattern of behaviour, characteristics, and a personality), audiences feel connected to your business and are more likely to buy from you.

Mistake 7. Inconsistent or misaligned branding

Businesses can get caught up with the idea of chasing trends or updating their brand to match what’s popular. You’ll often see these businesses change their core message, visuals, or strategy to cater to the whims of the market.

If there is constant inconsistency and misalignment in your branding, your audience is unlikely to trust you. And if they don’t trust you, they’re unlikely to buy from you.

It is often said that ‘confusion kills sales’ so, to keep your brand consistent, create a set of Brand Guidelines that documents your brand’s philosophy, core message and outlines a visual identity that all internal staff and partners should adhere to.

Branding is a long-term initiative.

Achieving your brand potential isn’t just about high-end aesthetics or a premium price tag; it’s about clarity, focus, and consistency. Understand these key factors, and you can do more than just create a strong brand; you can build a successful and meaningful business.

If you want to learn how to build and scale a premium brand, come along to one of our free workshops and improve your chances of branding success.


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