I've seen too many amazing brands fall into what I like to call the Brand Identity Crisis—uncertain of themselves and lacking the confidence to sell what they do with the fire it deserves. This is often driven by one of 4 branding mistakes. Let me save you the heartache and share what I've learned from seeing so many others struggle.
1. Perpetual DIY
I know how much you love to DIY. Trust me, I'm right there with you (just ask my husband). DIY branding can be a great start when your business is new, especially when you're creative (and when that piggy bank is feeling light). However, there will come a point where you outgrow it.
I know you're creative—I think you're amazing—but trust me. When it comes to your branding, hire a professional. You've put your heart and soul into this brand of yours. Your talent and experience culminate in something absolutely magical. Invest in your business and hire someone who will bring that same level of experience and sophistication to your branding.
I know. You're afraid to let go. Don't be. Of course you know the most about your brand, and if you've found the right designer, she will know that too. The right designer will learn as much about your business from you as she can. You may not always be able to DIY, but the process couldn't possibly happen without you either.
2. Asking that “Designer Friend”
Maybe your friend is a designer. Maybe it's a friend's kid who's a design student. Maybe it's your kid. Maybe it's that one guy from high school that used to make all the band posters and now dabbles in logos here and there. Whatever the exact scenario, you figure, why hire someone when I've got a designer right here? And I'll bet he'll do it for cheap too.
I've seen this over and over. “I asked a friend, but it's been a couple months and I haven't heard from him... He's probably busy, but still.” What can you do now besides wait? I mean, this friend is doing you a favor by working on this. Then what happens when this friend sends you something you don't like and it's time to give feedback?
This situation gets awkward very quickly. Trust me. Cheap design is just that. The branding process should not feel like this. Save yourself the headache and hire a professional.
3. Putting It Off
I know you have the best intentions for your brand. Sometimes, you're just not sure when and how things should be done. Branding may seem like an expense best saved for later on, but that's just not the case. Bear with me here.
Your logo and branding are the face of your business. They make your brand recognizable and set the stage for the rest of what's to come. I've seen so many brands do everything else first: the website, stationery, collateral, etc.
Everything you do or sell or use to represent your business should be branded in some way. So stop and think for a second.
If you do everything else first, what happens once you rebrand?
You've got a new logo you love, but all this stuff with the old one you don't even want to look at. That's right. Everything needs to be redone. So much for saving. That's why it pays to focus on your branding first.
When you put off your branding, you're also procrastinating on marketing your brand (whether you know it or not). Think about it. If you're not absolutely thrilled with how your brand looks, it's hard to be confident in putting it out there to sell what you do. That lack of confidence translates to uncertainty in your brand, which isn't exactly a magnet for customers.
4. Consistently Inconsistent
I've seen lots of brands struggle to establish a consistent brand to begin with. Every time they send out a newsletter, they're reinventing the wheel of what their communications look like.
But, Melissa, what's the harm in switching things up? I don't want my audience to get bored.
Guess what. They're not bored. You're bored, but that's because you look at your branding most. Everyone else is bombarded with countless brands constantly. So, no, rebranding every week doesn't make your brand fresh. It makes your brand confusing and difficult to find (and recognize even if they do).
Uncertainty means a lack of trust, and trust is key in a compelling brand.
Inconsistency is the enemy, guys. It hurts your odds of attracting your dream clients, and the audience you do attract won't know what to expect from you. As a result, they won't be thoroughly invested. Inconsistency makes your brand look unsure of itself, which makes your audience unsure of you. Uncertainty means a lack of trust, and trust is key in a compelling brand.
Make consistency your brand's new best friend. Yes, this holds true for your brand name, logo and website—when possible, they should all match up. This will help you be found by your dream customers, establish trust, and build a loyal following.
Invest in quality branding and commit to it. Let it become the recognizable face of your business. Let it work for you. That recognition leads to dream clients building confidence in your brand, which leads to loyal customers that can't wait to spread the word!