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5 Common Branding Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

Listen, I know you THINK you have a brand. But chances are, what you have is a logo—maybe not even a great one. And we get it! When you start your own business, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. There are so many things to learn and do in order to get started that establishing a strong brand often falls to the wayside, both in time and financial terms. However, many small business owners don’t realize that branding mistakes are hurting their bottom line.

A powerful brand can help establish your company as a leader in its industry and will be an asset for years to come. But if you're not careful with how you handle branding, then it could all go wrong very quickly! We will cover 5 common branding mistakes small business owners make and how to fix them.

1. Brand? What brand?

The first mistake small business owners make is that they don't have a brand at all. If you've ever seen someone use their company's logo for something unrelated, or if their website looks amateur and unprofessional, then chances are good that this is the case.

In the rush to begin making money, many small business owners neglect the development of their brand. But if you're serious about making money, then branding should be one of your top priorities.

You can have the most brilliant product or service in all the world but without a brand to represent it, the greater audience will not notice, trust, or buy. You must decide what your brand is about, who your target audience is, and how you are going to communicate your brand story with them through design and language.

2. I made it in WordArt (or-gasp!-Paint).

Can you tell which design is a few pieces of clipart thrown together with a bad font and which design is professional? They both have all of the same elements requested by the client: sun, chili peppers, oil drop, business name and tagline. But one communicates trust and professionalism while the other communicates, well, DIY.

The part of a logo that gets the most attention is often its worst design element. And many small business owners make the mistake of utilizing logos that are poorly designed or too generic (I'm looking at you, template logos that cost $30 and can be used by anyone who wants to download them).

A professional, unique-to-you logo is essential. Not only does it help you stand out from the competition, but it also helps shape how consumers view your business and can even impact its success or failure. A poorly designed logo will not just hurt your brand image, but your bottom line as well.

A logo is more than just an image. It's also the colors and typefaces that go along with it. A good designer will balance all three to create one cohesive design element, and will strip down the raw elements of what defines your brand to create something that portrays who you are as company or individual.

3. You mean I shouldn't use a new color every week?

Branding guidelines are a set of design parameters that protect the identity of your company. They create a consistent message that tells customers that you can be trusted. In fact, they're so important that today's biggest companies spend millions of dollars to build a strong visual brand that resonates with their customers across all medias and platforms (but don't worry, we know you don't have millions!).

All brands should have usage guidelines so that the visual message is consistent and always tells the same brand story. According to a LucidPress survey, organizations with consistent branding are more likely to have higher visibility than those who don't--three to four times higher, as a matter of fact! Of 200 participants, 71% agreed that market confusion caused by brand inconsistency is one of the biggest negative impacts on their business' success.

That's where brand guidelines come in. Your company's visual identity should be carefully curated to reflect your business model and personality. From the colors and fonts to the tone and energy of your design content, every element of your brand should be an accurate representation of who you are.

4. Speaking of platforms...

Another mistake small business owners make is under- or over-utilizing social media to market their brand. For example, some businesses will try to use all the major channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, SnapChat, etc. Whatever the social media flavor of the week is, they're hopping on it. But for a small business with limited resources this can be a big mistake because you don't have the time or money to manage all of these accounts at once, and the brand identity can easily get lost on platforms that serve different target audiences.

Small businesses should focus on using two or three social media channels that are most relevant to their brand and audience. For example, if your target customers fall within the demographic of Instagram user and your brand lends itself to great photos, build awareness of your product or service on a photo-driven channel like Instagram! Or, if you are a business-to-business company focusing on serving other professional businesses, a LinkedIn presence could be a great benefit to you.

Perhaps the greater blunder when using social media, though, is not using it all. Social media is the greatest source of free advertising your company can experience. You don't have to run Facebook Ads to begin experiencing the benefits of a social media presence. Word-of-mouth is strong marketing, and as people share and follow your content, you can build a fan base of customers and potential customers who will do a lot of the marketing for you!

5. Branding is for big companies, not small ones, right?

And the big grandaddy of all branding mistakes -- thinking of it as an afterthought, when it really should be at the forefront of everything you do. Maybe you're a one-person company right now, but if your company wants to grow, then branding is going to be important.

You don't have to spend millions of dollars to have a strong brand, but you do need to have a budget for it. It's not about huge billboards or putting your logo on every promotional item you can get your hands on. It's about a consistent identity. If branding was just for big companies, Branded Studios wouldn't exist. As a small business, our goal is to help other small business owners become more aware of how branding affects their bottom line, and how we can help.

You’ve spent time and money building your business, but you might not be spending enough on branding. This is a common mistake for small businesses who think that they don't need to spend any more than the bare minimum when it comes to brand identity. But what's the point of having an amazing product or service if nobody can find it?

Let us help you develop a brand that fits your budget! We will create unique logo designs, use current trends in design and marketing strategy to build awareness for your company online, provide guidelines so everyone knows how to represent your firm with consistency, and take care of all the social media needs so your brand story is profitable. Contact us today!

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