Branding is an important way to build awareness and situate your company as a leader in your field. A robust company brand can net you more clients, increase profits, and even attract better employees. A recent LinkedIn survey found that 56 percent of respondents believed that a great company brand was a top reason to accept a job offer. If your company has a reputation as a great employer (read: awesome place to work), potential employees will flock to your open positions.
The same can be said of your product or services. According to research from PwC, 46 percent of multichannel shoppers frequented just one retailer. The No. 1 reason consumers gave for shopping at their favorite retailers? Brand trust.
Unfortunately, many companies are still dropping the ball when it comes to consistent branding efforts. To improve your branding efforts, let's take a look at five branding mistakes companies are making and how to correct those mistakes:
1. Not Establishing the Brand Early Enough
Your company needs a brand identity, and it needs one right out of the gate. Too many small-business owners focus on every other aspect of their business first and leave the brand activities until later. At this point, your company probably already has a brand—and it might not be the one you’d like it to have. That's because your brand is being built every single day, and if you’re not the one directing its journey, someone else (your employees, partners or clients) will define it for you.
The Fix: Establish what you believe your company brand should be, and write it down. It might seem hokey to write down your brand vision, but it’s incredibly important to put it on paper. Your brand will most likely change over the coming months or years, but if you don’t write down your vision, you have no anchor to your company’s brand identity.
2. Confusing Branding With Brand
You have a logo and a color scheme, so clearly you have a brand, right? Well, not quite. A brand is more than the physical manifestations you see on a company's packaging or at the top of a webpage. A brand is the summation of every single touch point and experience a consumer has with a company—from logo and messaging to the look and feel of digital marketing to the product itself, customer service and social channels. It’s a cross-medium, cross-channel, cross-people, all-encompassing consumer reality. While logos and design are certainly important, they’re not the end-all-and-be-all of branding.
The Fix: You need to establish your brand beyond your logo and catchphrases. What does your company stand for? What kind of experience do you want to give customers and clients? What kind of voice does your company speak with? What values do you hold dear? These are all important questions to answer before you sit down with a designer to dream up the perfect logo. Remember that a brand is a process-based, people-based, culture-based endeavor; not just a creative output. Recognizing this upfront is a key step toward a more consistent and powerful brand experience for your customers.
3. Lacking Consistency
Your website is blue, your storefront is green, and your logo isn’t even on your business cards. With social media and traditional marketing working together, it may feel impossible to keep up with all the options available and keep them consistent and on brand. The Pew Center for Research found that 74 percent of online adults are on social media. This means you can’t afford to drop the ball when it comes to brand consistency in a digitally fragmented world.
The Fix: It’s important to keep all channels and materials aligned with your stated brand promise. Your company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, website, app and physical materials and products should all work together to tell the same story. The same goes for your headquarters, your customer service policies and training, and your PR efforts.
4. Forgetting Your Value Proposition
In the middle of developing your branding guidelines, messaging and logos, it can be easy to forget what it is about your company that makes your vision unique. It’s easy to fall into the trap of using common buzzwords like “award winning” and “bestselling” instead of figuring out what truly makes you special.
The Fix: Remember what it is your company does better than anyone else, and build your brand around this value proposition. For instance, my company, The Bouqs Co., makes the process of ordering flowers anything but a commodity. So we’ve built our brand around simplicity, sustainability and engagement. Don’t build a brand that's inconsistent with the reason customers are attracted to your company in the first place. Be unique, and be consistent.
5. Ignoring Feedback
Customers and clients want to engage with your company. The PwC study noted above found that 52 percent of consumers had interacted with a favorite brand in the past year and 59 percent had followed a favorite brand on social media. If you’re ignoring your customer base, you’re leaving money on the table.
The Fix: Make engagement an important part of your company brand. Ask for feedback, answer questions, and always engage in a positive fashion with your customer base. If customers have problems or concerns, take them seriously and fix them quickly in order to build brand trust and loyalty.
Building a top-notch brand isn’t easy. But if you can avoid these five common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to connecting with consumers and turning them into brand ambassadors.
What are some common branding mistakes you’ve seen? Share with us in the comments below.
John Tabis is the founder and CEO of The Bouqs Co., a cut-to-order, online flower delivery service. Connect with Tabis and @TheBouqs on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Tabis is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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