When you start a small business, you have all sorts of hopes and dreams for the venture. Many of today's biggest companies started out as a tiny idea in someone's garage, and there's no reason your idea can't experience healthy growth and success.
However, there are some common branding mistakes that you're probably making, particularly if your small business is the first time you've entered the entrepreneurial world. Here are some common marketing and branding blunders and how you can avoid them.
1. Marketing Your Business Without Brand Development
Can a company sell its products if no one knows about the products? Marketing and advertising are two essential concepts that all businesses – even those that operate out of a home office or a garage – must face each year.
Smart marketing isn't just knowing where to spend money in your advertising budget. It's also creating a strong brand that your buyers will immediately associate with your products or services.
Regarding the strong relationship of the customer to a brand, Entrepreneur shares:
"For instance, when people think of online shoe purchases, they think of Zappos. You want to have that kind of immediate, definitive relationship with your buyers as well."
Imagine you own a business that sells athletic clothing. When a customer sees your advertisement, he or she should see immediately that the image is from your company. You're not just marketing athletic clothing. You're marketing athletic clothing from your company.
2. Creating an Overly Complicated Logo
Simplicity is the most important concept you can include in your discussions about your company's logo. Look at any of the major brands that have stood the test of time, and you'll see a logo that's remained virtually unchanged for decades, or even more than a century (as in the case of Coca-Cola).
There's no doubt that you want your logo and the graphics associated with your brand to be memorable, but don't assume that creating a complex and "never before seen" combination of letters, fonts, and colors is the answer. Designing a unique logo that "feels" like your business will help you create something unique.
"Write down what you think about the brand; perhaps even create a mood board with imagery that reminds you of the brand’s ideology…"
Think about the history or genesis of your business. What do you want people to think or feel when they see your company's logo? Take those simple emotions and ideas and apply them to a clear and straightforward logo design.
Remember: Onlookers will identify a simple and clean logo on your custom printed bags much easier than if the bag features crowded and complex images.
3. Failure to Create a Cohesive Brand Identity
The work in building your brand identity isn't done after the design of your company's logo is complete. Beyond that initial design phase, it's also important to choose brand standards that will guide all marketing, advertising, and packaging designs.
Consider the specificity of Twitter's requirements on their logo. You'll see the official Twitter bird on millions of websites that link to Twitter, and the company has some pretty specific things to say about how you're meant to display their logo.
"The Twitter marks represent the core values of our brand, from meaningful connections in real time to simple amplified expression… Always use our official and unmodified Twitter logo to represent Twitter."
The design crew at Twitter hasn't just created standard images. They've also provided guidance on the font choice, color restrictions, logo size, and even the proper capitalization requirements for "Tweet" and "Retweet."
You might not yet be at the point where you need to give instructions to outside users about how to display your logo. However, the same attention to standards and detail is an important step in creating a brand identity that's easily recognizable whether you're looking at a custom reusable bag or a banner on your website.
4. Abandoning Brand Development After the Initial Push
Hopefully, the creation of your company's logo results in a unique and personable image that has staying power, but the initial concept isn't the only thing you need to consider when creating a strong brand. You may need to refine your logo, and new marketing opportunities may require that you revisit your brand's image standards.
For example, imagine you've decided to add custom printed bags to the shopping experience for your customers. Don't assume your logo is ready for presentation on the custom bags. Consider the size of the logo and whether adding text or other design features are necessary to adhere to your brand's logo presentation standards (remember the Twitter example).
Further on this concept, it's a good idea to "police" your brand as it's being used on the internet. Take a look at how other individuals (like bloggers) or sister companies are displaying your logo or the name of your business. Do those representations fit with your brand standards?
5. Being Inflexible with the Brand or Logo
As important as it is to solidify your brand's standards, it's also essential to understand when a logo has become outdated and needs an update. Further, modifying your logo or brand standards in subtle ways is an incredibly effective way to expand into different territories or areas of your business's industry.
For example, consider Nike's iconic "swoosh." It's probably one of the most recognizable logos in the world, and the swoosh has been part of the Nike identity since its initial design in 1971 (the original company was founded in 1964). The "Nike" text has changed over the years, but the swoosh has remained constant.
According to famouslogos.net on the history of the Nike logo:
"It was conceptualized by a graphic design student named Carolyn Davidson in 1971. She was paid only $35 for the rights to use it."
The original design featured the Nike swoosh running right through the word "Nike." The logo was modified in the late 1970s to feature the word "Nike" above the swoosh, and was modified again in the mid-1980s to feature a square red background with "Nike" and the swoosh in white. Since then, Nike has been able to market its brand with nothing more than the swoosh.
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