5 Mistakes That Could Harm Your Brand

In today's world, a brand's reputation is everything. However, five common mistakes can quickly tarnish it. Let's dive into what they are and how to avoid them.

5 Mistakes That Could Harm Your Brand
Photo by Bernard Hermant / Unsplash

You are not defining your brand.

Quick: what is your brand? If you don’t have an answer, you may be losing out to cheaper and no-name competitors. It’s important to remember that your product is not your brand. Generic and store-brand items are priced lower than their branded competitors for a reason.

Nike’s brand is not defined by its footwear. It’s also not just the Swoosh logo. By establishing itself as a fitness lifestyle company, Nike has been able to introduce new products and services to an audience primed to trust its offerings and pay a premium for its products.

When establishing your brand, remember what your product or service is. Consider what makes your offering better or different than anyone else’s. Your brand defines your relationship with buyers and gives you credibility.

Inconsistent brand guidelines.

If you asked the person posting to your Twitter feed what images they use to promote your brand, would their answer be the same as the person developing your website? You are missing out if you don’t have a well-defined brand guideline. Having a consistent brand on all platforms helps customers recognize you. Your brand image and voice must be consistent when contacting a potential customer.

Your brand guidelines should include:

  • All acceptable versions of your logo and when to use them
  • Brand colors, including specific values for print and web
  • Typography used in digital and print media
  • Descriptions and examples of imagery used in marketing materials

You can develop other sections specific to your company. These could include templates for responding to customer inquiries and wireframes for new products added to the website. Whatever your brand guideline is, make sure it is available to anyone working for you and that you enforce its requirements.

Have you ever seen a picture of yourself or a family member from the 1980s or even 2010? That hair! The more “modern” the design, the faster it becomes outdated. A quick internet search finds dozens of logo trends for 2019. Only a few of these will survive into 2020, much less 2030 and beyond.

Even big brands have been harmed by chasing trends. In 2010, Gap tried to refresh its image and relate to a younger, trendier audience by changing its classic square logo. Its audience revolted. Fortunately, Gap could recognize its mistake and switch back to its original branding in less than a week. Would your company be able to withstand such a mistake? Ensure you carefully choose your company’s image and branding and don’t fall victim to the latest design trends.

It is not changing with time.

Changing with the times is just as big a mistake as changing for the wrong reason. Where would Apple be now if it insisted on being the “Apple Computer, Inc” of the 1980s? Apple is one of the largest companies because it expanded its original mission and redefined its brand to hit a current audience. At the same time, its six-color logo was retired and replaced with a white apple to reflect the change in the company.

Look at your brand and make sure it speaks to your intended audience as well now as it did when it was first defined. As your audience grows and shifts, you should ensure your brand grows.

You are not protecting your brand.

Your brand will have value after you spend time, money, and effort establishing your brand reputation. Counterfeits may emerge. People might use your brand name to describe generic versions if your product is unique. If you’re not careful, you may lose control of your trademarks. Kleenex is used to describe all generic facial tissues because of this mistake.

Ensure you monitor how your brand is being talked about and what your competitors are up to. By protecting your copyright and trademarks, you can protect customers from being duped into buying counterfeit, inferior products. And you can ensure that imposters do not diminish the value of your brand.

Branding is vital to compete in today’s global marketplace. By avoiding these mistakes, you can help your company thrive for years.