Branding Mistakes

With more and more businesses created every day, and all of them looking to make a splash in the market for all the right reasons, branding is becoming increasingly important. After all, the very best companies develop brands that people instantly associate with them. Probably the most successful example of this is Nike, whose tag line ‘just do it’ and iconic tick logo are famous across the world, making it an instantly recognisable brand. If you’re wondering how to develop the perfect brand for your business, first you need to know what to avoid.

Below is a list of things to avoid when dreaming up, designing and creating a successful brand.

Inappropriate names

One of the most obvious problems with many brands is the name. This probably happens most often when a foreign company tries to brand itself in a language other than its mother tongue – for example, many companies in South America brand their products in English in order to tap into a wider market. This is, in principle, a sound business idea, but when you find alcoholic drinks called ‘Cream Love’ and pasta sauce called ‘Fanny’, what could be a brilliant marketing strategy actually attracts attention for all the wrong reasons.

Dodgy translations

Linked to the above point is the matter of less-than-perfect translations leading to major branding faux pas. Describing a set of headphones as ‘ideal for music listening’, for example, isn’t the biggest mistake in the world but it sounds more like a literal translation rather than one that has sensitivity to the language. Mistakes such as this – as well as bad spelling and grammar generally – can easily put people off the brand. After all, if there are errors in the slogan, how can the customer guarantee there won’t be anything wrong with the product?

Pepsi CokeTwo brands in same advert

Developing a brand for your business might seem like a straightforward task, but all your hard work can be for nothing if you accidentally combine two different brands in one advert or marketing campaign. Take the example of the South American company who had shop hoarding sponsored by Pepsi and then printed ‘Coke’ across it in massive letters. An example of confused branding if there ever was one.

Terrible tag lines

If you are advertising a product, service or even your business as a whole, you need to make sure you have a good slogan or tag line to go with it. Consider Nike’s ‘just do it’ or MasterCard’s ‘for everything else, there’s MasterCard’. These are lines that instantly conjure up enduring images of the business and encourage people to buy their products or use their services. On the other hand, ‘Avoid the Noid’, a slogan Domino’s Pizza decided to try out in 1989 for reasons unknown doesn’t exactly smack of brilliant branding.

Stating the obvious

Of course, when you are creating a brand, it needs to be instantly obvious what that brand is, what it does, what it’s for and the company behind it. This means keeping things simple but catchy. Bear in mind, though, that ‘simple but catchy’ is distinctly different to ‘stating the obvious’, a folly that many a company has perpetrated. Take, for instance, the company who advertised a Popsicle as ‘a frozen drink on a stick’. Accurate it certainly was. Appealing to consumers, not so much.

Upside down signs

Upside down logoIt may sound like one of the most obvious things in the world: when you have designed your branding and promotional material, you need to print it all the right way up so people can read your text and see your pictures. This is true whether your brand is featured in a newsletter, on a billboard, on your website or as shop hoarding. Naturally, the vast majority of businesses manage to do this without any trouble. There are instances, though, of companies hanging signs upside down or printing part of their branding in a different direction to the rest of it. Eltopo (Churros) in Buenos Aires, we’re looking at you…

Complicated or irrelevant logos

Another thing to take into consideration with your branding is your logo. Ideally, you want a logo that people will instantly associate with you no matter what. So, even if the logo is just on its own with absolutely no text, your aim is for people to automatically know that it’s yours. One branding folly that has been committed by the IRS among others is a logo that is far too complicated for the brand, making it much less likely for it to stick in people’s memories.

Indistinct branding

When MySpace launched in the UK, they sensibly decided to re-brand themselves a little in order to tap into the UK music scene and appeal more directly to British young people. The result, though, was a bland logo that is nowhere near as distinct as any of the other social networking sites. For example, even if you’ve never used them before, you can probably picture the brands of Facebook and Twitter. But what about MySpace? Indistinct, bland branding is one of the biggest mistakes that companies can make, leaving them out in the middle of the road.

Not being strategic about it

You also need to be strategic about your brand. In other words, you need to target it to your chosen market and then follow it through. It’s one thing to say that you have ‘the best customer service around’, but unless you actually deliver on this, your brand will be empty. You need to have the integrity of the business behind you in order to support your branding; otherwise you’ll only have done half the job. Branding isn’t just about vying for attention in a crowded market; it’s also about creating an honest message about your business that tells people why they should care about you.

Changing your brand more often than your bed sheets

Marathon and SnickersHaving a successful brand doesn’t mean you can’t ever change it, but you should be careful when and if you do. People can often identify very closely with a brand and if you then haplessly decide to change things, it can put your customers off.

For example, in the UK ‘Marathon’ became ‘Snickers’ years and years ago, but people still talk about it today. The same is true of when ‘Opal Fruits’ became ‘Starburst’ and ‘Oil of Ulay’ became ‘Olay’. Most branding mistakes are in the construction of the original brand; some companies, though, make their biggest mistakes by trying to change a winning formula.