5 branding errors small businesses make

Posted on: July 28, 2016 by WorkPlace One

When small businesses and startups compromise on marketing budgets or their branding is inconsistent, fails to stand out, or convey a quick story about what the company both does and stands for, they may have a hard time becoming familiar with their consumer base.

We know 65% of businesses will not survive the first 10 years, but businesses that implement a solid branding strategy will have a better chance.

1. Underestimating the importance of design

The design elements that make up your brand can be interpreted a thousand ways; from your company logo, to the colour palette you choose, right down to the choice of font. If your company is trying to communicate to your clientele that you are a warm and inviting company, a simple logo, a sans serif font, with a warm red or yellow colour, would work well. It certainly did for McDonald’s. In fact, 75% of purchasing decisions are based on emotion alone. Look at your current branding with an open mind and ask yourself, “what do my customers see?”

The FedEx logo is a perfect example of getting a branding logo right. Many customers may not even see the forward arrow between the “E” and the “X”. Perhaps in their subconscious they do. This design is simple, elegant, clever, and easily communicates the FedEx promise of quick delivery.

2. Inconsistent branding

When you hand over your business card, a client looks at your website, or your advertisement is posted somewhere, your branding should remain consistent. Every time someone sees your company it is important they are met with the same thematic continuity. This involves settling on and dedicating the company to a consistent font, logo, brand colours, taglines, imagery, and a company voice.

You may think your company's brand is something that is purely external and customer facing, but the most successful companies use their main brand message as the core of their business strategy. 60% of millennials expect consistent experiences when dealing with brands through different mediums. Staying consistent with a solid branding strategy can help serve as a compass for your company going forward.

Looking at the evolution of the Coca-Cola logo, you will see it hasn’t changed in over 100 years. The handwritten script font and classic red colour are recognizable all over the world, even when displayed in different languages.

While your company expands and changes over time, staying true to an original brand message will help keep you focused on your mission as an organization. Ask yourself, “what is my company all about?”

3. Failing to stand out 

Before you decide on any branding, you must evaluate the branding choices your competitors have made. Many small businesses will fall into the trap of looking and sounding just like the other guy. That’s why it is critical that your branding is different, is unique and more importantly stands out. The best branding is done when the company finds something unique about themselves that no other company can say. Ask yourself “what makes us different?”

When looking to find a way your brand can stand out, companies should look to the Maytag example. Maytag today is a well-established brand, mostly in part to some clever advertising in the 1950s. The brand wanted to convey the message that their brand required little maintenance. With every competitor on the market offering the same promise, Maytag stood out when they created the “Lazy Maytag Repairman.” It was a most clever way of letting their customers know their product was built so well, their repairmen are rendered all but useless. 60 years later, the Maytag repairman is still representing the brand.

4. Overcomplicating the message

Your brand should be able to communicate one solid core message. If your product is a truck that is focused on communicating that it is fast, efficient, tough, top of the line, and reliable, your messaging may start to wear thin. Focusing on one core message will help you resonate with your target market. Take these automotive brands, for example. Ford is “tough” and Subaru is “safe”. Each brand focuses on one core attribute of their business just like in the Maytag Repairman example.

In most cases, the core message you want to convey can be boiled down into a simple tagline. “Think Different” by Apple, “Just Do It” by Nike, and “Got Milk?” are not only some of the most memorable taglines in the world, but they also tie into the core message of each brand.  Ask yourself, “what is a word or phrase that best defines our company?”

5. Compromising on investing in your brand

As your small business continues to grow, it can be difficult to allocate resources to your marketing and advertising budget. However, branding is something you can’t afford to compromise on. Most successful companies will often spend 20 to 50 percent of their net revenue on marketing.

In a businesses infancy it may be hard to justify allocating financial resources to branding however, it has proven time and time again to be the main contributor to many companies’ successes.

How are businesses allocating funds towards their branding budget?

Many successful small companies and startups are taking advantage of the cost-effective nature of shared office workspaces. Workplace One offers shared office rental in Toronto and the Kitchener that give companies a sleek and modern workspace, at the fraction of the cost of owning your own office.

Workplace One is ready to provide your company a permanent business address in Toronto and Kitchener, access to our board and meeting rooms, and our professional working environments, with flexible workspace options for your scalable business. Contact Workplace One to find out how we can help your business maintain a professional look, at a fraction of the cost.