Let’s chat about branding mistakes, but before we do I want to reframe the concept of a mistake. A lot of us learned mistakes will get you in trouble and cause a punishment and they’re thought of very negatively because of that. I recognize that no one wants to make mistakes, but the reframe here is that mistakes are the product of learning something new and will happen — especially if you’re learning something on your own! This is where the concept of a “Teachable Moment” comes from. The reality is that most businesses do their branding or cobble it together from different sources, which inevitably leads to mistakes and that’s okay. Most branding mistakes are things that you can undo if you know how. This is why we’re going to chat about what some common mistakes are in branding and then we’re going to chat about what to do instead. See learning!

Mistake 1: Inconsistency

I’ve chatted about this several times before, but inconsistency means things don’t really match or go together well. This can look a few different ways. The two most common ways are that the inside doesn’t match the outside. So, for example, a company’s message doesn’t match its visuals. To further the example: maybe the messaging attracts the core audience, but the visuals attract the total opposite and suddenly the company has low sales and doesn’t know why. The second most common way I see inconsistency is that the visuals don’t match each other. They are in multiple styles and colors and nothing is cohesive. This typically happens when a business changes from one visual style to another or they are allowing their staff to individually design their materials without a style guide.

The lesson:  Inconsistency makes it harder for a business to attract its ideal audience and stops it from being seen as the go-to solution in its industry.

What to do instead: Make sure everything matches, the internal parts like messaging, and values match the external parts like business cards, and advertisements. Have one central theme that everything operates on and create a guide for reps to use to maintain that look and feel everywhere in your business.

Mistake 2: Not knowing your audience

This tends to be the root of the rest of these mistakes. Businesses need to know who they are selling to. It’s okay if they don’t have a niche and have a wider audience. That’s not what I’m saying here at all. What I am saying is that the business needs to know who they are talking to for each offer or at least each marketing campaign. The trouble pops up when the business doesn’t know this and often tries to sell everything to every possible audience all at the same time. These audiences have very priorities and selling to all of them at the same time can muddle the message attracting no one.

The lesson: Trying to sell everything to everyone all at once is a losing battle that confuses people and has the potential to slow sales or attract the wrong audience.

What to do instead: Have an extremely clear idea of who the business is selling to and what will attract those people. If the business has a wide audience, then it can break the main audience down into sections so it can better tailor the visuals and message for each subgroup. Then figure out where that audience or subgroup spends time and go talk to them.

Mistake 3: Not knowing or ignoring your company values and relying on trends

We’ve covered this before too, but relying on trends alone isn’t the world’s best idea. Pick and choose the trends that make sense for the business and the chosen core audience. Not every trend is for every audience. Additionally hopping from trend to trend with no clear strategy has the potential to make the brand look shallow and rudderless. Businesses do better when they have a core set of values that dictate what they’re doing. It helps the business make complicated decisions faster, allows them to filter out audiences that don’t fit them as well, and creates timeless content for the audiences they do want.

The lesson: Trends are cute for gaining quick attention and are fun to do sometimes if appropriate for the audience and type of business, but for lasting attention anchor into your values.

What to do instead: Figure out what the top 3-5 values are for the business and then use them as a compass to guide the rest of the decisions the business needs from which audiences to choose to what content to make. They should guide the business into which trends, if any, make sense for them.

There you go three of the top branding mistakes that businesses make and what to do instead. That’s all I got this week.