branding mistakes
Consulting, Digital Marketing | 10 min read time
11 Branding Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs
Written by Kris Asleson

An Introduction to Branding Mistakes

No one is guaranteed to be safe from branding mistakes. Even prominent companies like Pepsi, Ikea, and Guess have learned lessons at the cost of millions. Not all branding mistakes cost millions but they all come with a price. Some of the most common mistakes are actually some of the most easily avoidable. In addition to the loss of income, branding mistakes can lead to the loss of customer trust, weakened marketplace reputation, and potentially detrimental legal issues. Learning from their predecessors’ mistakes, today’s business leaders are taking the necessary precautions to stay ahead of today’s branding pitfalls. If you need help with your business’s branding strategy, reach out to us today to see how we can help. If you just want a few quick tips on what not to do, read on to learn about the 11 of the most common branding mistakes. 

Mistake 1: Underestimating Time and Effort for Planning

Branding is the process of defining who or what the brand is. Contrary to popular belief, branding is much more involved than choosing a logo and jingle. The size and significance of this process are sometimes underappreciated and only seen as a page of the marketing plan. Marketing plans come after the process of figuring how people are going to find out about said company. To create a successful branding blueprint for any company, multiple details must be covered and decided upon. The decisions made in this phase will act as the pillars on which the company’s identity will stand. The focus of the brainstorming sessions should be determining what singular emotion they want to provoke when consumers hear or see their brand. To avoid burnout halfway into the first brand meeting, business owners should lay out topics ahead of time and make sure that everyone involved has a clear vision of the company’s future. Allow ample amount of time for research, discussion, planning, creation, and production.

Mistake 2: Not Connecting with Target Audience

Although most ambitious entrepreneurs like to think globally rather than locally, knowing exactly what they’re selling, who they’re selling to, and where these individuals are is paramount to the brand planning process. More than half of consumers today expect brands to facilitate connections between themselves, the company, and other consumers. Having realistic ideas of customer demographics also allows business owners to spend their marketing budgets more wisely. By asking specific questions tailored to aspects of their customers’ lives, business owners can accurately gauge who their target audience is. Understanding their customers and paying attention to specifics like age range, genders, locations, interests, education levels, and other socioeconomic factors will allow a company to create a brand and marketing plan that will last. 

branding mistakes and taget audiences

Mistake 3: Failing to Differentiate Brand

In addition to knowing who their target audience is, the brand must also be aware of their competition and how they stack up. Researching the competition allows new companies to see what consumers with similar profiles are moving towards, or away from. In light of this, some owners choose to go a safer route with their branding, prioritizing the acceptance of the masses rather than what makes it special. Creativity is the most important brand quality according to 29% of consumers. Branding like this may allow new buyers to feel safe when initially purchasing the product because it looks familiar, but it may look too familiar. Trying to stand out from the crowd while also being accepted by them is a futile task. Fading into the shelves can diminish the opportunity for a real connection with consumers who are looking for something new. 

Mistake 4: Failing to Address Value Proposition

When using the word value in relevance to purchase propositions, most people would assume manipulations of monetary value is the focus but that is not the case here. This type of value cannot be priced due to the fact that the ‘why’ value or lifetime value of a product is different for each individual. A consumer can follow every marketing persuasion set up to get a company’s page and a sale is still not guaranteed. One of the most promising ways to ensure a sale at this point is not the commonly used redirection to the ‘Clearance’ tab, but the establishment of their reason for searching for the product in the first place. This is referred to as the value proposition. This type of brand identity focuses on the problems in consumers’ lives and how this product will fix them. Reestablishing their problem will allow the customer to recognize how important this product could be in changing their lives. Establishing the brand as a necessity rather than a want can resonate more deeply with the consumer, allowing the price, and possibly competition, to fade from view.  

Mistake 5: Creating a “Cheap Brand” Identity

Many brands at their core were created with the intention of helping the masses without breaking the bank. Creating a brand that is affordable for all is an extremely noble thing to do, but it is not necessarily sustainable or advantageous. The old saying, ‘You get what you pay for’, still rings in the ears of consumers today. Sometimes what seems like an affordable price for some can be a deterrent in and of itself for others. For individuals scrolling through product pages categorized by price, an unknown brand can be washed over with the same veil of low quality as the other low-priced items. If the price given at the company’s inception is deemed as cheap their potential value is already diminished. In the future, it may be hard for them to establish the identity of a higher quality brand and ask for more money as the company grows. Before presenting a price to the public a brand should first determine whether it accurately reflects the quality of the company as well as the product itself.   

branding mistakes with pricing

Mistake 6: Not Providing a Brand Experience

When a customer is presented with the choice of one grocery store versus another, many factors that are unique to the individual may come into play; like location, resources, and budget. But in today’s booming consumer culture, over 90% of B2B leaders believe their customer’s experience is a vital part of their branding strategy. From the marketing ads sprinkled throughout social media to the efficiency of the online checkout process, every interaction with a customer is part of the brand experience. Brand experience is an all-encompassing term that refers to the emotions customers feel as they interact with the company through marketing campaigns and consumer conditions. Conditions can and should be delineated down to aspects as specific as choosing font styles for product shelves, the kind of music that should be playing, how loud, or what the customers are smelling as they enter the store. Although these examples are for in-person shopping experiences, a company’s brand experience creates the identity and relationship it holds with the public regardless of the platform. Customer brand experience starts the moment you have their attention in person or online.

Mistake 7: Improperly Expanding the Brand Name

After all the long nights and startup struggles, a little bit of success can be the sweetest taste of poison for a blossoming company. Sometimes owners get caught up in the numbers game and they see their brand name(s) only as profit or loss and not the holistic identity each brand holds with the public. When this happens, choices relevant to new business ventures tend to be made for greed rather than impact. Assuming the loyalty of customers from one product category to the next is dicey. For example, if customers have come to trust a brand for their quality of blankets, they will probably be confused to see the same brand marketing their new line of Paleo frozen dinners. This broad range of items can shake the trust of loyal customers, bringing down the probability that these same customers would continue to buy the blankets as well as hinder the possible sale of the frozen dinners. The owner of the company might be well-versed and knowledgeable but from the outside looking in, customers can see inconsistency and might interpret it as a lack of sincerity. 

branding mistakes expanding too early

Mistake 8: Inconsistent Actions

Consumers today are more environmentally conscious than ever before. Young shoppers today are more concerned with their brands’ ecological footprint, rather than their latest fashion release. Over 80% of consumers say it is important that the companies they purchase from support charitable causes. A company is a supporter of multiple entities, it is best to stay consistent in the causes. Choosing to support entities whose missions contradict each other can display a lack of integrity on behalf of the company. A customer shopping on a website that advertises the use of sustainable fair trade fabrics will not be impressed to see the support of other companies who lack regulations on deforestation or working wages for those creating their products. This confusion could not only hinder further sales from current customers it could deter future sales from other conscious consumers as well.  

Mistake 9: Creating Multiple Brand Identities

Contrary to popular belief, consumers can be loyal and empathetic to pitfalls. Most consumers are aware that companies are not perfect and mistakes will happen. One of the many mistakes that business owners make in the midst of a mess-up is wanting to come back with a new brand name free from the old mistakes and prejudices from the past. Creating multiple brand identities might erase some of the bad memories but it can also erase any good ones left as well. Nearly 70% of consumers agree that transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a company. Successful companies are ones that grow deep roots in their communities by understanding the need to practice integrity, resiliency, and transparency regardless of their current situation. 

Mistake 10: Failing to Protect and Defend Brand

Not all companies are created equal, and with that being said, playing fair is not always part of the playbook. New and upcoming companies are not only under fire from consumers but from their current competition as well. Business owners should protect their brand(s) by investing in trademarks. Having a trademark builds reputation and authority in the eyes of new buyers. Not only do consumers prefer companies with a rank, but they also prefer companies with a little backbone. Choosing to stay silent in times of adversity can be seen as agreeance or acceptance. Failing to protect one’s own brand identity or followers in the face of adversity can leave the brand open to negative assumptions, and their consumers defenseless.  

Mistake 11: Not Admitting Failure 

Sometimes bad things happen to good companies.  Even if a company does all the necessary research prior to their marketing campaign and they hit all the proper checkpoints, difficulties can still arise. In these times some individuals either hold onto the reins for dear life or let go completely. Rather than viewing a failure as a tunnel to infinite disappointment, business owners should see failure as a fork in the road. Progress for the company may equal the death of a brand. If it has been established that the brand is no longer beneficial with how it stands currently, business owners should admit to the failure and stop while they still have a chance for redemption.

branding mistakes not admitting failure

Recap of Branding Mistakes

As you can see, there are countless branding mistakes that can be made. This article is not meant to scare you but to show how complex and important branding and brand messaging are. If you are feeling overwhelmed at the moment, that is OK. With years of experience, our team is more than happy to sit down and go over your current situation and see how we can help. With specialized teams in branding, messaging, website development, copywriting, email marketing, social media marketing, and SEO – we’re ready to transform your marketing. To get started, contact us here!