Wise Up: 7 Stupid Brand Mistakes Small Businesses Are Making

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you are a small business, read this article to make sure you are not making one of these seven stupid branding mistakes.

Branding is one of the major pain points for entrepreneurs.

Small businesses find this the most difficult part of gaining traction with their brands, and most give up within five years of opening according to research.

But this guide is going to help you with that. You are going to learn about some of the major mistakes that small businesses tend to make so you can survive your first year of entrepreneurship.

Related Article:Real Talk: 6 Things No One Told You About Personal Branding

Failing to Understand Brand Power

A strong brand is extremely advantageous, from the perspective of building a customer relationship. It’s what will encourage customers to trust you, and ultimately make a purchase from you.

It’s also valuable from an SEO standpoint as Google always ranks branded listings higher than any others. And more clicks mean that you are going to get more customers. Never assume that you don’t need branding. It should be your priority.

Not Establishing Brand Guidelines

The reason why huge corporations are so successful is because they have clear written guidelines regarding their brand so they have an actual brand identity. They know what their brand identity is, and they ensure that everyone working for that company also understands what it is.

When concocting your brand guidelines, there are many areas you need to take into account, such as the logo, brand colors and taglines.

Related Article:What Does Your Brand Say? How Branding Can Make Or Break Your Business

Making Branding Complicated

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.

Trapped by Vague Branding

The vague branding trap is where companies develop guidelines for their brand that say nothing about the company. These tend to be extremely generic companies that are easily forgettable. You’ve likely seen it before with the clichés and generic language of your industry. It’s lazy branding.

The solution to vague branding is to move away from the clichés and adopt clear language, with forceful imagery and looks to match. Vague brands are almost tiptoeing around what they really stand for as if they are fearful of offending someone. Be loud and be proud about your brand and what it’s all about.

Brand Cheating

So you have clear branding guidelines and then for one campaign you decide to be overly clever and cheat. There’s never a reason to depart from your clearly established brand guidelines. If your current guidelines don’t fit in with a certain idea, it’s the idea that’s the problem not then guidelines.

Your brand guidelines should be non-negotiable. Never compromise on them for anything.

Maintaining Brand Continuity

As your business grows, you will be expected to employ others to carry out some of your marketing tasks on your behalf. Establishing clear brand guidelines is only half of the process.

You have to police the way your brand is used. There have been many scenarios where companies have departed from their branding guidelines simply because a freelancer or contractor working for them wasn’t briefed correctly.

Every campaign should be personally authorized by someone who understands the brand before anything goes live. Even minor mistakes in brand continuity can become big problems.

Related Article: 5 Branding Strategies Small Businesses Can Use from Big Companies

Rolling Out Brand Changes Badly

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.


Effective branding is all about ensuring that you are staying true to yourself and making sure that you know what you are staying true to in the first place. The reality is that branding is difficult, but unifying your company across all platforms can go a long way to building your company up.


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