Companies large and small put immense resources behind developing a memorable brand. That’s because even a minor mistake can crack the brand’s foundation.
It might not be bad at the start, but that crack will impact the brand’s future developments and could cost the company thousands to repair in the future.
Some mistakes are just that — accidents. Others, while made with the best intentions, yield unintended consequences. In either event, it’s best to catch these errors as soon as possible before the damage sets. Here are five things to look for when developing your brand.
Splurge on the designer
Small businesses have tight budgets. Large companies have limits. Sometimes they have to cut corners, sometimes in the form of professionals or experts. Often, companies look within the company to develop their brand’s logo. After all, it’s just a simple image. Why would they need a professional graphic designer to work on it?
They need a professional because logos are what will make the brand sticks. Nike, Pepsi, Apple — all these and more have logos that bring their brand to mind at a glance. And while logos are simple-looking, achieving a simple look while simultaneously projecting the brand’s message and style is no easy task. The untrained won’t know how to do that. A bad logo can suppress the semiotics of the brand for years to come.
Remember the brand bible
One of the first things a marketing team needs to develop is a brand bible or style guide. This manual will form the foundation of the brand and will dictate the use of words, color, font usage, and more. It is what people will refer to when they make decisions related to the representation of the band and is fundamental to creating consistency.
Inconsistency in style or tone will keep the brand from ever developing a real identity, which can make it hard, not only hard to relate to but to remember or trust as well. Whether it’s a Facebook post or an article, any content a company makes must adhere to the brand bible or risk diluting the message.
Put the customer experience in the center
Much like any other part of a business, brand development must focus on the customer experience. The brand must evoke a specific kind of emotion or reaction from the target market; if it cannot, it will inevitably fail.
The mistake is in believing that the brand is encompassed by the logo or a type of marketing campaign. Many fall into this trap because those are the things that many think about when considering brands. They remember Red Bull’s big skydiving event, or Pepsi’s “Don’t Worry, There’s No Sugar” campaign for their Max variant. They forget that it’s not the ads themselves, but the impact and emotion those events inspired in their consumers. This error can cause inadequate resource allocation, as well as a campaign that is mostly ineffective.
Train your employees
Proper branding goes beyond a good advertisement and a fantastic logo. It involves correct and appropriate behavior from every member of the company when they’re on the clock. When they’re acting as employees of the business, they represent the brand. Any time they work against it, they damage the brand.
Every employee, as long as they interact with customers, should be trained to represent the brand in the best way possible. While they don’t need to read the brand bible, they do need to know what the best practices are and to adhere to them when at work.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small company that’s only starting out or a large firm that caters exclusively to a local audience; brands must be designed with the world in mind. That is for a multitude of reasons, from future expansion overseas to an ever-shifting population that includes immigrants or people who just happened to move in. Neglecting to take the globe into account opens up the company and brand to potential misunderstandings. At the very least, companies should remember to localize their messages whenever appropriate or possible.
Branding mishaps can be deadly, but they’re also far from inevitable. With care and forethought, many mistakes can be entirely avoidable. Companies who want to do so should triple-check everything to make sure it’s all in order, and to have contingency plans in case something does slip through the cracks.
– Dan Natividad, a Stockton native, is a partner at Port City Marketing Solutions. Dan can be reached at [email protected]