Branding A Small Business? 10 Stupid Mistakes To Avoid

Branding A Small Business?

What do you think about when you hear the word “Branding”? Do you think about Nike’s “swoosh”, or Coca-Cola’s red and white lettering? Well, you’d be right. These are the brands that these companies have developed and what makes them memorable.

Are you thinking about branding a small business? That’s awesome because your brand is your business’s identity. If you don’t leave an impression in your niche market, how can you be remembered?

Even though you are a smart person, this can be a daunting topic to research. There is a lot to consider, but it’s easier than you think.

And to make it a safer journey, let’s talk about the 10 stupid mistakes to avoid. These are some of the most common mistakes and pitfalls.

Are you at the very beginning of building your online business? If you need any help or looking for direction, CLICK HERE to see where I learned all about online marketing.

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Branding a Small Business

First of all, what is branding? I like Jeff Bezos’s description the best:

A Brand for a company is like a reputation for a person

When customers see your brand, they know what to expect from your products and services. It also sets you apart from your competitors.

And because you can’t be all things to all people, your brand needs to be focused on your target audience and who they need you to be.

Granted, your branding starts with a great logo design, but it involves a little more than that, LOL. This is something that you will nurture as you grow. Slapping your logo on everything isn’t enough! Poor branding will work against you. It can portray unprofessionalism, untrustworthiness, and low-quality.

Related article: What Is Product Branding? Is It Really So Important?

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10 Stupid Mistakes To Avoid

business branding ideas

#1 Not Understanding The Power Of Your Brand

Can you see the power of the Coca-Cola or the Nike brand? It’s definitely to their advantage to have such a strong brand. When people think “soft drink” or “running shoes”, many people automatically think about these brands.

This is the ultimate goal of any small business online. You want people to think about YOU when they’re in need of whatever product or service you promote.

Take Action: Think about your shopping habits and see what brands pop into your mind.


#2 Not Creating Your Brand Identity

Like #1, this is a more abstract point because it’s not something you can see and touch. But along with knowing the power of a brand, you must realize that the identity (the visual representation of your brand) is what shapes all of your designing. Your website design, any marketing material, business cards, etc.

We all know the importance of having a website for our businesses, but do you realize that the look and feel of your business are really important. According to Sweor

  • 94% of negative website feedback was design related.
  • 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive.
  • 75% of consumers are making judgments on a company’s credibility based on their website design.

Take Action: Think about the different websites you’ve visited online. Have you ever questioned the quality of their products or their credibility by how the website looked?


#3 Not Having Brand Guidelines

Not having a strategy is like building a house without a blueprint. It’s important to know who your audience is, and how you’re going to reach them. You also need to know your competition and how you can uniquely stand out from them.

Knowing these things can help you with designing your brand identity and brand logo. Here are some points to include in your guidelines. They may not all apply to you, or you may have others…

  • The logo
  • The brand colours
  • The tagline
  • The fonts
  • The main Image
  • The “voice” used in audio/video material
  • Any mascots or spokespeople used for promotions

This type of guideline helps define your business and will keep you consistent moving forward.

Take Action: Start creating your guideline list. Everything you think you’d like for your brand. Don’t worry, this isn’t final yet. You’ll be tweaking it many times before it’s finished.

Just the act of writing it down will give you ideas as to what style of logo you’d like, the colour choice, the tagline, etc.


#4 Cheating On Your Brand Guidelines

how to create a brand identity

So you’ve spent time creating all your guidelines for a strong brand identity and have been using them consistently across the board. But six months down the road, you’re launching a new product line and want to use a couple extra colours that aren’t part of your colour scheme.

Can you do it? Sure. Should you do it? Nope.

Everytime you introduce or deviate from your original guidelines, you’re diluting the power of your brand identity. You no longer have a unified campaign. You’re actually introducing a new brand image to your customers and weakening your overall identity.

Take Action: Um… Don’t do it, haha


#5 Forgetting Your Competition

Now it’s time to check out the competition. Some research here can show you what’s trendy and what’s not. How do they use their brand and does it work well? Or does it feel awkward?

No need to feel guilty about doing this. Unless you want to copy, in which case they’ll most like sue you, lol. Believe me, they all did the same kind of research. This is how you can gauge what’s effective, and it can help you create your own personal identity.

Take Action: Spend some time surfing the net for your competitors. What are their logos like. How do they present it on their website, or on their promotional ads? What are their similarities? Can you create something that stands apart? Make it even better?

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#6 Forgetting Your Audience

It’s understandable that our brands are greatly influenced by who we are, our opinions, and our personalities. But despite thinking that it’s only our opinion that matters, it’s actually not.

What really matters is your audience’s opinion. They’re the ones you’re trying to reach. They’re the ones supporting your business. And they’re the ones you need to appeal to.

So you need to take your target audience into consideration. How can you reach them on a personal level? Will they like it, or turn them off? Once you’ve figured that out, then add your personal touch!

Take Action: If you have Google Analytics connected to your website, you can find out many things about your audience. The demographics, their location, their behaviour, and so much more.

If you’re just starting your website, remember to connect Google Analytics, lol. Then consider who you’re trying to reach. Who is your ultimate audience? How old are they? Are they local? What are their other interests?

Write it all down because this information will give you ideas as to what style of logo would attract them, the colour choice, what tagline will be most appealing, etc.


#7 Overcomplicating It

How many times have you heard “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Well, this is another great place to apply it. Keep your logo, your message, your imagery, simple. It doesn’t have to have many colours. In fact, you should stick to two or three at most. And the more elements it contains, the harder it is to remember.

Think about Coca-cola again. Notice their logos since 1886. The fonts have changed over the years, but the overall look has remained the same. It’s clean and simple. In fact, if you’ll notice, it’s gotten simpler again over the last 40 decades.

product branding examples of coca-cola

We all need to learn a lesson from coca-cola. They’re not only giants in their industry, but it’s a name that’s recognized around the globe.

Take Action: Start doodling designs on paper, for your logo. Are you working around your business name? Or are you creating an abstract design? You can get many ideas online to get you started.

Taglines can come later if nothing rolls off your tongue now.

And if you have more than three colours in your colour palette, pare it down some more. Did you know there’s a psychological component to creating effective logos? Here’s a great article on shape and colour in logo designs.

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#8 Using Generic Logos

How many business owners have said, “I want my brand to be boring so that my company doesn’t stand out”.

Not one.

A logo can make or break your chances of standing out from the competition. If you notice that much of your competition uses similar design tactics, then do something different. Take a look at the generic design templates that you can download from various image sites. These are real estate logos…

graphic design for small business

How could using one of these possibly help you stand out? How will consumers be able to distinguish you from all the others? This also applies to your marketing taglines. How many times do you hear “best-selling” or “award-winning”, etc? That’s what’s called lazy branding, or “wallpaper copywriting”, lol. It’s all too vague and so overly used, that it’s lost all effectiveness.

Now I know if you’re just starting out, you may not have any money to invest in a branding service. That’s why so many of these generic logos are used. They come cheap, or even free online. And that’s OK for now. But remember that your brand represents your company and has an immediate effect on your visitors.

When your business takes off, and you have the means to invest in your branding, then do it. You want a logo that reflects the quality of your business, which could, in turn, reflect on your profits.

Take Action: Are you a creative person who can create a great design for your business. If so, great! If not, then it may be worth it to hire a designer for a few ideas.

Did you know this doesn’t have to cost you the thousands you think it might? You can use companies online that offer the services of many designers. Some include:


#9 Not Policing Your Brand

After spending so much time, and possibly money, on creating your brand, you want to make sure it’s not being abused. You need to monitor how others are using it. Are they using it on your behalf? Are competitors copying it? Is it being used without your permission?

Many of these issues are usually minor, but depending on the size and success of your business, you may want to be on the safe side, and copyright your logo or trademark your slogans, symbols and colouring.

Take Action: If copyrighting or trademarking is something you want to consider, then you should know the difference between the two. Here’s an article on Copyright vs. Trademark.

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#10 A Poor Rebranding Roll-Out

If the time comes when you think you may want to rebrand, consider the implications. Any changes you make could hurt connections you’ve built with your consumers. You should only do this if the benefits outweigh the risks of losing any business.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just take the time to properly educate your followers before doing so. A complete brand change will take more time to prepare your customers. If it’s just tweaking what you already have, like the changes to the coca-cola font changes, it shouldn’t need much attention at all.

Take Action: Are you planning a rebranding of your business? If so, consider all the platforms you can use to promote your upcoming changes. Here are some off the top of my head, lol:

  • Your website
  • Your email list
  • Your social media platforms
  • If you’re local, the newspapers and magazines
  • If you’re rich, LOL, T.V. commercials

Do you know who Evan Carmichael is?  His passion is “entrepreneurs”, and his one word is “believe”.  He has a unique view of how to start your branding process.  Enjoy!



So there you have it. 10 mistakes to avoid when you’re branding your business.

If you’ve already been in business for some time, no worries. It’s never too late to start building your brand. Or for that matter, it’s never too late to improve what you already have.

Your brand reflects your business. To be successful and attract visitors who want to stay, you want that reflection to be quality, credible, and trustworthy. If your brand can reflect all that, then your prospects for success look great! And success means profits. And profits lead to passive income.

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Have you had any branding blunders? I’d love to hear your story. It could help future readers as well. Please leave your comments below.

And if you have any questions, please ask. I’d love to help.