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Quit Making These 5 Common Branding Mistakes

Most companies assume their brand involves only their logo, tagline and color scheme. The common belief is that putting a logo on a website or t-shirt brands it. But on the contrary, company branding is not the same as branding cattle. The strongest companies realize their brand is about who they are, what they do and what their customers think.

Apple, for example, has clearly defined their brand. You get a certain feeling when you walk into an Apple store, see Apple packaging or watch an Apple commercial. Everything is cohesive and adheres to their mission.

Apple knows exactly who they are, what they do and what they want their ideal customers to think about the company. Apple has clearly defined their brand, and it’s foundational to everything they do.

A poor understanding of branding hinders the work of a business. If people are unclear about who you are and what you do, they won’t engage. And a lack of engagement prevents your company from reaching potential clients.


Clarify your brand – don’t make these five mistakes:


Mistake #1: Assume your logo is the extent of your brand

A logo is part of the brand, but it isn’t the whole thing. A good logo establishes an identity. For example, when people see a red and white bullseye, they think Target. When they see a golden M, they think McDonald’s. Those are visual cues that remind us of a bigger brand.

What does this mean for your business?

A good logo is important, but it’s not everything. Your logo is a component of your overall identity. Just like a personal identity, your brand identity comes from knowing who you are. This means your brand will look a little different from the other companies in your field. That’s okay; we don’t need millions of companies that are exactly the same. Discover and develop the unique brand of your business in your community.


Mistake #2: Don’t ask what people say about your business

What people say about your company is a direct reflection of what they think about your brand. This may not be the reality of your brand, but it’s what people assume is reality. Look at the major cable companies. Many of them have a reputation for poor customer service. Is that what corporate leadership wants associated with their brand? No, but based on past experiences, it’s what customers think the brand is.

What does this look like in your business?

When you go to lunch or coffee, ask the server if they know any good businesses in your field in the area. If they don’t mention your company, ask specifically about your business with a question like, “I’ve heard some people talk about ‘x’. What have you heard?” You may be surprised by what you hear.


Mistake #3: Don’t connect your brand to your staff

Hilton, a global company with more than 350,000 employees, has a clear mission: to be the most hospitable company in the world. It’s obvious how this impacts their guests: clean rooms, exceptional service and so on. But leaders at Hilton realize the brand mission extends to their employees. That’s why they work to show hospitality to their own team as well as their guests. This strategy drives Hilton to consistently be on the Top 100 Places to Work list.

What does this look like in your business?

Think about the core values shared with your team. Are those values woven into the staff culture? For example, if excellence is a core value, how is it shown to the staff? Are there standards and practices in place that reinforce excellence as a core value? When your team regularly experiences the core elements of the brand, they champion those ideals with your clients.


Mistake #4: Assume your clients understand your brand

Don’t assume that people that have done business with you understand your core values. Be sure to make clear to your future, and past, clients what your business stands for and what they can expect from your company.

What does this mean for your business?

Continually remind people what distinguishes your company. If efficiency is part of the brand, showcase it. It’s your job to show and tell your brand identity often.


Mistake #5: Everything in your business requires its own brand

Often times, companies focus on branding aspect of their business. This focus on building a new brand for every aspect of a business is confusing for people who visit your building or website. And it’s probably doing more to hinder your business than help it.

What does this mean for your business?

Don’t feel the need to create a new and unique brand for every single thing in your company. This confuses people. Instead, focus on the overarching brand of the entire business. Working with your executive team, take that brand and infuse it into every aspect of your business. The consistency you create will resonate with more people, causing them to engage in what you do.


These mistakes are common, but they aren’t fatal. Lead your team away from these mistakes. Soon your business will begin engaging more people and growing in clients!