No matter the size of your business, a strong brand image is crucial. Branding is a huge part of building a business, hence why when you think of the biggest companies in the world, a logo springs instantly to mind. This recognition also helps make them more noticeable when you’re out and about. This applies equally to small businesses, as brand recognition can immediately help you stand out against competitors, hopefully allowing you to dominate the industry.
But even established businesses make branding mistakes. When Tropicana strayed from their iconic orange-with-a-straw design in 2006, they wound up losing over $100 million—a 20% drop in sales—purely as a result of the stripped-back design on their packaging. After the extreme backlash Tropicana’s parent company PepsiCo quickly announced that the original packaging would return.
So, while it can be tricky deciding what your customers will react well to, there are some general guidelines you can follow to ensure you’re not sending out the wrong message. Here are some of the more common branding mistakes that you should avoid.
1. Inconsistency across online platforms
If you’re trading online, you probably have a website and at least one social media channel to let your customers connect with you. Social media is effectively the online face of your business, so it’s crucial that all of your channels are consistent. As one leading retail design agency puts it, the most successful businesses in the world create a “seamless brand experience across all consumer touchpoints”. In fact, companies with channels that flow well together enjoy 3-4 times more brand visibility than those with inconsistencies.
Sharing profile pictures, biography information, and similar posts between online channels is the first step to creating a cohesive presence online. You should remain consistent with everything that you publish for consumers—both online and off—from your store layouts, packaging, and colour schemes, to your fonts and tone of voice. Having major inconsistencies within branding material suggests that you’re not paying attention to the finer details of how your business looks, and can even confuse your customers and target audience, which may put them off shopping with you. Once you’ve nailed consistency across your platforms, your customers will be able to recognise your brand straight away, whether it’s through colours, fonts, or your tone of voice.
2. Not monitoring your online presence
If you’re trading online, you will need to track your internet presence to ensure you getting the right attention and ensure you’re offering the right level of customer service people expect from you. Research by PR Newswire found that 83% of customers expect an official response to social media comments within a day, even if an immediate fix is not offered. If your brand is not directly tagged in a posts but still mentioned, you should still be monitoring what people are saying about your business online. Blogs, social media conversations, and reviews are all things you don’t have any control over, but you can still leverage them—positive or negative—to your advantage.
Reviews offer free advertising for any brand, with a huge 90% of consumers checking online reviews before visiting or shopping on a store’s website. By ensuring that your customer service is exceptional, you can simply ask happy customers to leave a review online, or offer incentives. Engaging with negative reviews can even prove that your business is committed to offering the best customer service possible, and is working to please all of its customers. Deleting negative comments from review websites suggests you have something to hide, which can discourage potential customers from shopping with you.
Checking what people are saying about your brand online can also influence future marketing campaigns, and help you decide what direction you want your business to go in. Pepsi, for example, was forced to pull its advert with Kendall Jenner back in 2017, following a huge backlash over its insensitivity to the Black Lives Matter movement. The advert quickly went viral—not because of supermodel Jenner’s involvement, but for its tone-deafness to the political climate. Keeping an eye on how well your campaigns are doing, based on what people are saying about it online, gives you the chance to see what does and doesn’t work with your customers.
3. Not monitoring your competitor’s online presence
The phrase “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” rings especially true when you’re looking after your business. Monitoring competitor’s online presence is just as important as checking your own, as it lets you see how well they’re doing in comparison to yourself and how you can be better. If a competitor has recently launched a new campaign, you should be checking social media to see what people are saying about it, and how well it’s being received.
You should also be tracking things like engagement and growth within competitors, which can help mould your own social media strategy. For example, if a recent campaign has helped their follower count shoot up, you should look at how you can emulate the success. Keep an eye on when they post new content, and compare the engagement your competitors receive with your own to help develop a more effective social strategy.
Facebook Insights is an especially useful tool to track this, as it allows you to easily compare your own statistics with similar businesses. However, there are resources such as SEMrush’s Organic Competitors report which gives an overview of statistics like keywords and traffic.
If a competitor is boosting their follower count through giveaways and competitions, you should consider following suit. A competitor may also be creating original content which is encouraging conversation online, boosting the brand. Collaborating with influencers, for example, may be working really well for your competitor, paving the way for you to follow suit and reach out to social media stars or celebrities yourself.
When it comes to building and establishing your brand, keeping track of what’s happening online is key, from social media to general online conversations. By constantly evolving your branding strategy to stay fresh within your target audience, you can ensure you’re always giving your customers what they want.