Perhaps as a new online business owner, the brand guidelines and marketing materials have already been put together. However, a few months later it’s completely natural to want to change things, but that may not be the best idea. Why is that? Keep in mind that when business owners deviate from their brand’s guidelines their power gets diluted. The problem with that is that an audience gets confused and if the changes get too extreme, the meticulous branding campaign gets ruined. It’s important to be consistent right from the start to keep a unified branding message. Of course, small changes are bound to happen (we even discuss what business tactics are essential to follow through with during our free webinar training), but the closer a company sticks to their original brand message, the better. Don’t make stupid branding mistakes — it could have serious repercussions for an online business.
Using Copy That Doesn’t Describe Your Brand Well
Are you using content that isn’t describing your brand well? Hubspot mentions that it’s essential to creating and sticking with compelling content that your audience likes. Find something unique to your brand and work on maintaining powerful copy — it’ll help your brand go far.
Too many brands fall victim to copywriting that's too vague, too over-the-top, or just doesn't paint an accurate, stand-out picture of their brand.
To position your brand in a way that distinguishes you clearly from your competitors, you can't rely on the same buzzwords everyone else is using. Find one thing that makes you truly unique, and run with it. But be wary of going over-the-top — for example, if the product or service you're offering doesn't truly revolutionize the industry, don't use “revolutionize” in your brand message. Find something that's unique and accurate.
When it comes to writing good brand copy — if you aren't in a position to hire a professional — use this old advertising and sales trick: Focus on benefits, not features.
For example, if I'm trying to sell you an amazing new snow shovel, I could tell you that it'll help you shovel more snow (the feature), but I'll have better luck making my brand stand out if I instead focus on the benefits: You'll be able to sleep an hour later in the morning because shoveling your car out of the snow with this fantastic shovel will only take you half the time (the benefit).
Making it Too Complicated
Business.com reminds business owners not to overcomplicate things. Easier said than done, right? When things get complicated, and you can’t see the forest from the trees. It’s time to take a step back and don’t get so fixated on everything. When you come back, everything should be a lot clearer.
Marketing is always about aiming content at the lowest common denominator. This is why the most successful brands also have the simplest brands.
Coca-Cola, for example, hasn't changed their logo since they first released it in the 19th century. It has been updated, but the colors and the styles have remained almost the same.
When you go through the branding process, think about whether what you are doing is easy to understand. Don’t add more variables than are absolutely needed. For example, anything more than two colors is already too complicated. Clean and simple elements are the order of the day.
To give you an example of the mindset you need to adopt, ask yourself the question when you are designing your logo whether a child could draw it. If not, then it’s too complicated.
Making Ineffective Changes
As we mentioned in our introduction, making changes sometimes are necessary, but don’t overdo it. If you implement too many changes, Business reminds us that sometimes too many changes can backfire. Don’t surprise people too often; pretty soon they won’t know what type of company you have. They should always be able to identify your brand by your brand message which is why you shouldn’t deviate that much from the original message.
Rebranding is sometimes necessary. You don’t always have to stick to what you had when your small business was established. Rolling out changes every so often is necessary to keep your brand on top of the latest trends. But you shouldn’t just surprise people with changes to your brand.
You should educate your loyal customers on the changes and what they mean for them. Crucially, you need to explain why.
Not Establishing Defined Brand Guidelines
Entrepreneur reminds business owners that establishing defined brand guidelines is essential. Having guidelines set in place will help you determine everything from fonts, brand colors, to verbiage. Guard these elements with your life. It’s the heart and soul of your business.
So you know that your company may to develop a brand, but what exactly does that mean? When creating a brand identity, you’ll want to establish defined guidelines that cover all of the following elements (as well as any others that are relevant to your field). Here are a few points to consider.
Logo (both an overarching logo and any logo lockups your company uses for individual product lines)
Fonts and typography
The “voice” used in your branded materials
Mascots and spokespeople
Clearly, this list isn’t comprehensive. If there’s some other branding characteristic you feel is necessary to define your business, go ahead and add it to your brand guidelines documentation. The worst thing you could do is to avoid creating these important documents altogether. Without them, your branding efforts will lack the consistency and direction needed for success.
Not Keeping Your Posts in Line With Your Brand’s Values
Yes, everything must align with your business, including your posts, which is Small Business Trends cleverly points out. Your articles must always align with your brand’s values. If you don’t stay aligned with your company’s values, it’ll be difficult for your customers and audience to know what type of business you are running.
If you start making stupid posts, your social followers can easily revolt and start talking trash about your brand. Remember that their reach is longer than yours.
Last, keep your posts in line with the brand’s values. If you’re a trash talking podcaster who uses witty humor and profanity to market yourself (yes, I’m talking to your Gary V!), then swearing and poking fun at other businesses and celebrities will likely help further your brand and encourage shares among your users.
If you’re a health food supplier, posting a picture of a disgusting hangnail or pile of animal poop is going to create an unpleasant image in your followers’ heads about your brand — obviously counter-intuitive to getting new customers and making more sales.
Not Staying Consistent Across Platforms
Hubspot also reminds us how vital it is to stay consistent. That means making your company easy to identify on all of the social media sites and most importantly your site.
The first rule of building a strong brand is consistency. Presenting a consistent identity to your audience fosters a sense of trust and comfort for consumers, and can go a long way in building an easily recognizable image for your company. A company that presents itself inconsistently ends up appearing unprofessional, disjointed, and even untrustworthy.
Consistency starts with coordinating your visual assets across every place your company is represented: your website, social media accounts, ads, print materials, etc. This isn't to say you should slap your logo on everything and just call it a day — to align your visual identity in an efficient, reproducible way, you need a brand style guide.
What's a brand style guide? It's a simple rulebook of your company's preferred fonts, colors, imagery, logos, and other visual assets. A complete style guide goes beyond design assets, and also includes a set of standards for your brand's values, voice, and written elements. Having a style guide in place is a handy way to make sure you're presenting a consistent, cohesive message in all the places your brand appears. Think of it as an insurance policy for your brand.
Cheating on Brand Guidelines
Of course, you should never cheat on your brand guidelines. Entrepreneur argues that it could hurt your business in the long run. Keep a unified branding campaign and stay as close to your original branding as possible.
So you’ve sat down, crafted careful brand guidelines and begun implementing them across all of your company’s marketing materials and online properties. But two months down the road, you need to create a new ad for a product line you’re launching, and it’d be really great if you could use a few colors outside of the palette you specified out in your branding documentation.
Can you do it? Of course you can. But keep in mind, every time you deviate from your stated brand guidelines, you dilute their power by some small amount. By doing so, you’re essentially introducing a new brand image to your customers, diminishing the strength of the association they’d have to a more unified branding campaign.
Sticking to a brand message that’s powerful and adequately reflects your company is essential. Small changes may come up, but when you create your online business start by building a powerful brand and stick with the branding you worked so hard to perfect. While starting and working on your online business, check out our free webinar training for online branding tips, how to make money, and more!
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