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5 branding mistakes by startups

You are the new kid on the block, the latest addition to the ever-increasing list of startups. You have big dreams and want your brand to be one of the greatest. When you ponder about best branding, Coca Cola’s distinguishing red and white lettering, Adidas’s three stripes, Nike’s swoosh likely come to mind. But you are a small business, thinking about the huge level of investment that’s been poured into these iconic images can make the thought of undertaking your own branding initiative seem prodigious.

But the good news for you is that it’s actually much easier to do than most of us imagine. You just need to make sure to escape some very common pitfalls and branding mistakes.

Not understanding the power of a brand.

From a customer-relationship viewpoint, having a strong brand is obviously beneficial. You need to have a kind of instantaneous and definitive relationship with your buyers.

The definition of your brand is also important from an SEO perspective. It’s an open secret that Google loves to prioritize branded listings in its search results as visitors are more probable to click on them. More clicks mean happier customers, which makes it clear that concentrating on the brand building could lead to unanticipated website traffic and awareness benefits.

Forgetting to establish defined brand guidelines.

So, now you know and agree that your company may need to develop a brand, but what precisely does that mean?

When crafting a brand identity, you’ll have to create defined guidelines that will cover all of the following elements

  • Logo
  • Taglines
  • Brand colors
  • Fonts and typography
  • Imagery
  • Mascots and spokespeople
  • The “voice” used in your branded materials

Clearly, this list isn’t inclusive. Go ahead and add any other branding characteristic that you feel is necessary to define your business


The definition of brand guidelines finds mention on this list because, without them, all of your branding efforts will look aimlessly poor as they will lack the uniformity and direction needed for success.


Overcomplicating your brand.

Take a look. Coca-Cola logo has remained almost the same for over a hundred years since 1887 because consumers relate to it

While the fonts used have varied a little, the original look is still largely intact after more than 127 years of service.

Small businesses need to learn a lesson from this beverage industry giant. It can be enticing to add more variables and experiment with different styles than you truly need. But your logo doesn’t always need to be a ‘Rainbow’ and it certainly doesn’t need to have different individual graphic elements to signify the different arms of your company.

Clean and simple are the keywords as it is more likely to be recognized and remembered by consumers.

Falling into the vague branding trap.

But on the other hand, don’t go in the opposite direction and fall into another trap.

Developing brand guidelines and elements that divulge nothing about your company and its value proposition. You must have seen this before in generic logos or as they are known in marketing language, ‘The downright repetitive’. The taglines like “best-selling” books and “award-winning” ad agencies lack innovation and really don’t mean anything.

In the Marketing World, these are known as lazy branding “wallpaper copywriting” or catch-all nonsense that has been repeated and repeated so often that it has lost all meaning.

So what’s the answer? Clear language, logos, and imagery.

Take a look at the following screenshot.

This is a mobile-payment processor Square’s landing page. Not only does the company’s logo represent the product in a striking way, the value proposition defined in the tagline “Start accepting credit cards today” is right at the bull’s eye.


Not policing your brand’s usage.

Planning and implementing your start-up’s brand guidelines is only half the battle won. You have got to be proactive about monitoring and policing where and how others are using your brand elements on your behalf. Not only this, your competitors may create a logo that looks similar, a review website may be using your logo without linking back or a partner broadcasting an ad containing your logo but with the wrong colors.

Some of these issues may be minor and seem harmless, but in other situations, it may call for legal action if you feel your branded elements are being trespassed. After all, who will protect your brand better than you.




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