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How to avoid branding mistakes

How to avoid branding mistakes

By Su Brookes, Account Marketing Manager at Michon

Getting your branding right is essential for successful marketing. Whilst for an experienced marketer the basics may be obvious, some still get it wrong.

Understanding branding

Remember that a brand is not just a logo; it is a combination of elements from the inside, out – from your company’s internal processes and culture, right through to your service and promise.

Avoid bad design/branding

The brief - always give the best brief you can, preferably in writing. If you don’t know what design you want until you see it, then at least try to clearly identify your objectives, target market and any factual content. If possible, specify a budget as this clearly defines some boundaries and ultimately helps the agency to meet your needs quickly. The brief should reflect your budget - for instance, don’t ask an agency to design a high spec exhibition stand, only to tell them that you can’t afford what they’ve designed.

Be consistent in design – inconsistency weakens a brand. Keep all design on-brand and on-message, but be prepared to let it evolve and grow to fit changing markets. This may involve subtle tweaks to bring about a gradual enhancement.

If you look at how some of the big blue-chip brands have evolved over the years, comparing them over the decades, you’ll often see quite a significant change done so subtly and gradually it went unnoticed by the general public, e.g. Coca Cola.

Consider visual interpretation – cast your mind back to the now defunct Happy Eater logo, interpreted by many as someone sticking their fingers down their throat. Not the best advert for a fast food outlet.

Keep it simple - don’t over complicate things. Generally, the rule of ‘less is more’ applies. Depending on what the design is for, (e.g. packaging or an advert) you may have just a few precious seconds to get your message across.

Form follows function – good design has to work on a commercial level. Don’t allow the aesthetics of design to cloud your marketing judgement. Does the design still sell the product/service effectively and fit with your brand? Does the copy have the right tone-of-voice?

Don’t let your own taste bias you into selecting the most aesthetically pleasing design in your eyes. This happens all too often, as design is inevitably a subjective issue. End-user empathy is vital in appealing to your target market.

Communicate clear brand values and maintain any brand equity you might have. Think about what it is people expect from your brand and deliver it every time. Be honest, however, don’t over-promise and therefore under-deliver.

Focus on what makes your brand different and why customers should come to you instead of your competitors.

Hit the target

Know your market - research it and understand it. Get this wrong and your entire marketing strategy could be wasted. Make sure brand values relate to your target market. E.g. if your product is targeted at the over 60s, does your brand message appeal generally to this sector, is it designed with eyesight in mind?

If you’re operating on an international scale, ensure that your brand works globally. Do you need to adapt it according to culture/country? What is completely inoffensive in one country, may cause great offence in another, or have a totally different meaning. Have you adequately researched each international market place? Who are your competitors? Investing in local marketing expertise is highly recommended.  

Protect your brand

This isn’t just about trademarking, although that does offer protection for elements of your brand, e.g. logo, strapline, graphic devices. To a large extent, continual, consistent use of your brand and frequent exposure offers protection.

By educating brand guardianship and constancy you reinforce and therefore protect your projected brand. Protection stems from good brand management/guardianship.

Invest in marketing

Not continuing with a marketing strategy can result in all that hard work and expenditure going to waste. Support your brand with advertising and PR. Maintain the momentum as much as your budget allows.

Try not to spread your budget too thinly. It is better to do a few key activities really well, investing in them for longer-term benefit.

Measure your marketing activity

You need to know what activity works best for your brand in order to spend your budget wisely and learn from mistakes. After all, marketing budgets are too precious to waste on activity that simply doesn’t work.

Start by considering where you are now, and where you want to be. Measure your success rate in terms of sales and brand awareness, using end-user research and monitoring campaign responses.

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