You’ve built your brand. You’ve watched it grow. You have plans for its future. Nothing can stop you now, right? pause…
Reality Check: Most businesses fail. Even people with the clearest brands, the clearest visions, and the best reputations don’t make it.
Hate to burst your bubble. But you shouldn’t be living in a bubble anyway.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a little success automatically translates into a bright, unlimited future. Just because you didn’t step into any of the early pitfalls doesn’t mean you are going to not have any setbacks.
You will. It’s a part of business.
The difference between a successful business owner and a loser is recognizing that every failure is an opportunity learn to be better.
You are going to make mistakes. But your mistakes should be your own. They shouldn’t be other people’s mistakes.
So give yourself a head start by avoiding these 8 biggest branding mistakes tons of other business owners have made countless times already.
Mistake 1 – Trusting the Wrong People
Your brand will be judged by the company you keep. And while you can control your actions and decisions, you can’t always control those of the people you choose to be partners with.
So it’s essential that you choose wisely. Don’t make decisions on who to bring on board to your brand lightly. Yes, you will need to hire outside help like consultants or marketing agencies. Yes, as you get bigger you will need to rely on other people to help you run the day to day.
But no, you shouldn’t trust everybody. Or even anybody without vetting them first.
And not just people, either. You need to worry about the other brands your brand is associated with as well. If you tie yourself to somebody else’s brand, you better make sure it’s not going to blow up in your face later.
So how can you protect yourself and your brand? By asking questions. Lots and lots of questions.
For example, when hiring an outside vendor, consider things like:
- Do they understand my brand?
- Do they have a track record of success helping brands like mine?
- Are there any red flags I need to be aware of?
Even partnerships with other brands come with enormous risks. Trusting your gut is fine. But knowledge is power. Ask questions like:
- Are their values consistent with mine?
- What other partnerships do they have?
- Would I choose their brand?
Don’t waste your time with people or other brands that you don’t believe in. If you are willing to put in the effort, then time is on your side.
Mistake 2 – Chasing Trends
Trends come and go. But successful business stick around for a long, long time.
If you are constantly chasing after the shiny new thing, then you are going to be constantly frustrated. That’s because the public is fickle. And what’s popular today probably isn’t going to be at the top of the Yahoo! Trending list in a week or two.
Instead, focus on your core beliefs rather than what’s popular. These are unlikely to change much over time. And when they define your business, you truly believe in them, and you can get people to put their genuine trust in them, they can ensure a longer-term success.
Mistake 3 – Being Afraid of Letting Go
Have you ever watched the TV show “Hoarders”? It features people who fill their homes and storage lockers with tons and tons of useless stuff they just can’t let go.
When it comes to running your business, don’t be a hoarder. Instead, learn to become comfortable with change. Let go of outdated or inefficient things that harm rather than help your business.
This includes people, systems, products, promotional campaigns, designs, content, logos, and anything else that doesn’t feed growth and profitability.
Inefficient brands live in the past. Successful brands live in the present and strive for a brighter future.
Mistake 4 – Making Bad Hires
We’ve written in the past about when and how to hire. At some point, growing your brand needs to become a bigger priority than running your day to day. That’s when you need to bring others on board.
But picking the wrong people can sabotage all the success you already have achieved and keep your brand from living up to its potential. That’s why it’s so important to schedule time, money, and resources to hiring the best people for the right positions.
Inevitably, there is going to be some turnover. Life is complicated.
But if you can find excellent people who genuinely believe in what you are doing, you can minimize the amount of time you spend replacing people and maximize the amount of time you focus on big picture branding growth.
Mistake 5 – Straying from Your Core Values
Okay, it’s a tricky world.
In order to attract new markets, you may need to consider new strategies for growth.
But these should never, never, never compromise the core values you established when you created your brand.
Stay true to your core values and people will trust in you.
But if you compromise your message just to attract new audiences, you invariably will lose the customers who are most loyal to you. And once they fall away, there’s usually no winning them back.
Mistake 6 – Brand Wandering
Similarly, you need to stay loyal to the brand you created. If you wander too far away from your successful brand, it’s going to alienate existing customers and drive off prospective new ones.
For example, what if Apple suddenly decided to get into the fast food business? How would the people who own iPhones and Macs think about the company if they started also selling tacos and cheeseburgers or milkshakes?
Apple is smart enough to know its core business is tech. And they have built that brand into a trillion-dollar business that serves passionate customers who are fiercely loyal.
So what’s your core brand?
Identify it and stick with it. And avoid new products or services that don’t align with your proven brand.
Mistake 7 – Taking Your Eye Off the Prize
If you’ve built a successful brand, it’s probably because you had a clear vision of where you wanted your business to go.
Don’t screw it up now!
Preparing for growth means always seeing the big picture. Once you lose sight of where you want to go, it’s difficult to recapture the magic that made your brand successful in the first place.
The business battlefield is littered with brands that took their eye off the prize.
Maybe they chose products or services that weren’t consistent with their core values in order to attract new markets. Or maybe they made bad hiring decisions and spent more time managing people than managing their own brand.
There are lots of distractions out there. As an effective brand manager, it’s your job to keep steering toward the successful goal you have set for yourself and your business.
Mistake 8 – Failing to Define Your Brand Standards
The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning.
The biggest branding mistake you make is failing to define your brand standards, your core values, in the first place.
You can’t build a successful brand without a firm foundation. And that’s one that’s based on a clear understanding of what you stand for.
You need to understand what your business is all about before you can move forward. Failing to do that is going to undermine every step you take as you build your brand:
- You won’t be able to differentiate what’s good or bad for your brand
- You can’t hire people whose values are consistent with your brand
- You can’t guide your brand towards a driving goal
- You can’t dispose of things that aren’t consistent with your brand
Your brand standards are the driving force behind every decision you make as a brand manager.
So when they aren’t clear, if they are constantly changing, or if they don’t exist at all you already are doomed before you even begin.