No matter how small your business is, it doesn’t need to look it.
One of the greatest benefits you can get from good branding is a professional look and feel which lets your customers know that you are as polished and professional as your biggest competitors.
The brand identity that you started out with may have sort of fallen into place organically, or it may have been strategically planned, but if you have grown and evolved as a business then your brand identity needs to grow as well.
If you find that you aren’t attracting the customers that you want, or if your current customers aren’t willing to pay what you feel your services are worth, branding can help with this too.
This is a classic example of ‘dressing for the job that you want, rather than the job that you have.’ Your visual brand identity should reflect the business you want to have.
This way you can also attract the customers that you want to have.
Little Things that Make You Look Like An Amateur
Whether you are just starting out or have been in the industry for decades, the wrong brand identity can make you look like an amateur. This one little thing could really be holding you back.
And the right branding can make you look like an expert, regardless of how long you’ve been in business.
Here are some common branding and marketing mistakes that businesses make, which keeps them looking like amateurs:
Ignoring Customers on the Go
Many businesses make the mistake of only setting up their branding and website to work on desktop PCs, ignoring anyone trying to research their business on the go.
You should make sure that your branding looks good on all screen sizes, including mobiles and tablets.
You should make sure that your pages load quickly, that logos and banners make sense, that colours show up as you want them to and images are clear and whole. Make sure every page is easy to use and clearly identifies as belonging to your business.
With 57% of all search traffic on Google now coming from mobile devices it’s imperative that you optimise your website for mobile viewing.
This extends to setting up services like enabling clients to directly contact you and even book appointments on the go. You should also think seriously about developing a mobile app if it’s relevant to your business.
When your business and branding have evolved over time you may be especially guilty of having inconsistent branding. This is one of the most basic ways that businesses keep looking like amateurs instead of serious contenders in their field.
If your logo doesn’t match your website and your colours are different in every piece of marketing material, and your Facebook or Instagram feed looks like a hectic messy splat of concepts and ideas, then you need to do some work.
Inconsistent branding confuses your customers and can turn the right ones away, while attracting the wrong ones.
Consistent branding, on the other hand, helps to build customer’s trust in your business. It shows them when they follow links that they’ve come to the right place, and it also helps you to stick in their minds.
Dated Branding for Your Business
If your branding feels dated, it won’t be working for you. It may have been on point ten years ago when you started out, but times and trends have changed, as has the industry. As has digital technology. And your scope of services may have changed as well.
Your brand identity needs to be specifically targeted to tell your current business story, and to reflect the business you want to be NOW (or even better – in the future). It shouldn’t reflect who you were yesterday.
Using Social Media the Wrong Way
Everybody knows that they should be connecting with customers through social media – right? But did you also know that if you do it the wrong way you won’t end up engaging anyone?
Different social media platforms will reach different audiences, and will be successful for different kinds of businesses. The audiences you reach will differ in their interests and purposes as well as basic things like age and demographics.
Ideally, you should be trying to connect with people across more than one social media platform, but you should be using them in the right way. This includes how long your posts are, how you use hashtags and the kinds of pictures and media you post.
Facebook is all about community, and is a great place to start groups, chat with your customers and get feedback on products and ideas.
Instagram posts are short, punchy and completely visual. Use Instagram for plugs and promotions but also for showing the behind the scenes and human side of your business.
Pinterest is wonderful for empowering your customers and looking like an expert in your field. It is really good for advice and DIY tips and for connecting with customers who are early in their customer buying journey.
Many businesses start a Facebook page with the best of intentions and then just it languish. Potential customers will visit the page and see that the last post was from six months ago – and they will lose interest very quickly. Plus, if your last post was six months ago – you won’t be showing up on anyone’s feed.
Ignoring Loyal Customers
While dated branding often needs a reboot, you should pay careful attention to what you have been doing right so far. If you have attracted the right kinds of customers, the worst thing you can do is let them go off into the world without learning anything from them.
You should be working to form ongoing relationships with happy customers, as well as trying to learn from any that have been dissatisfied. Don’t lose sight of the parts of your brand identity that are working and the things that are giving off the right perception of you.
Trying to Appeal to Everyone
It is a common mistake that if you cast a wider marketing net you will catch more fish, and therefore make more sales. Good branding and a marketing strategy to go with it need to be tailored to a very specific audience.
You can’t appeal to everyone and you shouldn’t try – you will end up appealing to no one. You will also show up on no one’s Google searches or Facebook feeds.
Work out what your target audience looks like, and what you give them that no one else can. Then base your branding around getting this message across to these people.
It will work more successfully as a marketing strategy, and you will feel far more content every day when you go off to work.
Being too Close to See the Big Picture
When you have been in business for a while, and especially if so much of you is caught up in your business, it can be very hard to see if your branding is good or not.
You may need someone outside your business to take a glance over things and tell you what is working and what isn’t. You may need someone new to tell you the impression that your branding makes on fresh eyes.
When You Are Ready to Start Looking Serious…
Connect with the Human Story in your Business
One of the hardest lines to tread is the one where you get personal in your business. You want to connect with customers honestly and on a human level, but still look professional. You want to share, but not overshare.
Your branding needs to engage with your audience as people, by connecting with their values, their dreams and their emotions. They are more likely to buy from you if your business has the same inherent values as them.
Connect on an individual and personal level. Learn your customer’s names. Comment directly with people on social media. Respond, appropriately, to complaints. Basically, do what you can to show your customers that they are important to you and that you care about their business.
You stand out from your competitors by how you give people value as well as by how honest and authentic you are and how much of your human story you tell.
Serious Branding Evokes Trust and Consistent Branding Looks Polished
A consistent and well-planned brand identity creates a high value perception of your business in the eyes of your audience.
High value perception is matching your audience expectations or even exceeding them by looking polished, and like more of an expert in your field. This helps you look like someone that can be trusted, someone that knows their stuff.
You are more likely to attract the right customers and get paid what you are worth for your services. With more customers to choose from you will be able to work with the ones you find the most rewarding.
You will have a greater ability to run your business the way you want to. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?