Top Five Branding Mistakes
I get it, starting a new business can be expensive. Not only that, it can be overwhelming! What do you absolutely need when you start and what can wait? What is the right price to pay for the services you need? Because there can be so much information to sort through, I wanted to make a short list of the things you should definitely avoid! I hope it helps.
Firstly, branding isn’t just the visual stuff, so this list could include things that don’t fall under the graphic designer services umbrella. You may want to hire a copywriter to get your brand messaging and voice down, or a brand photographer to get concise photography done for your website and socials. All these things apply to your branding.
Branding your business at the beginning is important, so that you can enter your industry with a clear message that can be remembered — If you’re launching a brand with the intention to grow and be successful for an extended future, wouldn’t you want people to know who you are from day one? If you spend ANY money at the start, and it isn’t aimed in the right places… you’re likely going to spend MORE money down the line when you start to feel a disconnect from your ideal customers.
Ok, without further ado, here are my top branding mistakes (in no particular order of badness)
One: Using Fiverr, Canva, or other DIY sites
For starters, as an entrepreneur yourself, I would hope that you value the training and talent that other industries have worked hard on — and by paying pennies to a designer on Fiverr, you are making it insanely hard for the rest of us trying to make an honest living.
The only reason you can get a logo done for so cheap on those websites is simple, it isn’t custom… and in some cases, it’s ripped off (you don’t want the cost of a lawsuit, trust me!)
Designers can’t spend hours researching your brand and drawing up and designing custom elements for you if you’re paying them pennies… so where are they getting it from? Google.
The same goes for creating a brand on Canva. Their T’s & C’s literally say not to do this, yet I see people suggesting it as an option left and right! You can read more in depth about that on my blog post “Should I Create My Logo in Canva?” (spoiler, no!) You can add free and paid for icons on Canva, yes, but so can everyone else… so your logo STILL isn’t a custom design!
Any online “free” or cheap logo-maker isn’t going to be custom, there’s no argument, it just won’t be. And there’s always a chance it is plagiarized too… by a GOOD designer that doesn’t deserve to be ripped off.
Two: No Strategy… the “winging it” method
This is where a copywriter may come in! Brand designers (like myself) will likely include some strategy in their process/discovery, but a copywriter can help you with brand messaging, mission and vision, client avatar discovery, etc. You could also employ a social media strategist to extend your marketing strategy onto your social profiles and Pinterest. Instagram is a great place to showcase products and services, but unfortunately simply posting about them doesn’t automatically equal sales.
Having a good strategy plan in place BEFORE you launch is an excellent plan. Visual branding in combination with messaging and strategy is the true triple threat.
Three: Going with your “favorite” rather than what your clients connect with
This includes: choosing your favorite font (or worse, Comic Sans!), using trendy ideas such as watercolor, ombre, glitter etc.
You want a brand that 1. Stands the test of time without a million rebrands, and 2. Connects with your ideal CLIENTS, not with you.
There is PLENTY of psychology behind design. Whether that is color, icons, spacing, words used, etc. There is definitely a psychological approach to strategic design. If your designer knows what they are doing, then they are using this strategy.
Of course we want you to love your branding when we are done, but that doesn’t mean we use hot pink when your company is moody elopement photography just because it’s your favorite color. Hopefully, your designer can find a happy medium between something you are confident with and love, and what your clients connect to.
Four: Copying your competitors
I hope we all know not to do this, but sometimes there is a muddled line between inspiration and plagiarism. But why would you want your brand to resemble a direct competitors? You should be showcasing what sets you apart! Show your audience what they get when working with/buying from you versus the competition! This is a big thing we see in website copy — as it is VERY easy to browse around on sites of competitors, and then when you go to write your own website copy, it comes out quite similar to theirs. I get it, it’s stuck in your head — but what happens when your client stumbles on both websites? It will look a little strange to them, don’t you think? Do your own research, write a few different ideas, and if you can — hire a copywriter!
You do not NEED every single icon in your logo that is related to your business. I promise. You also don’t need glitter, or polka dots, or a self-portrait. Sometimes a simple typographic logo or monogram has the most impact. The benefit of a full brand identity is that you can have those icons or patterns as part of your brand, but not in your logo. If you put all the icons (or just one) in your logo, you may be limiting the services you offer in the eyes of your potential clients too!
Remember, your logo should look good in black and white as well as in color, and it should read well super tiny or super large. Imagine the logo embroidered on a hat, and then imagine it on a billboard. Imagine it printed on an old school photocopier in greyscale. Does it look good? Perfect.
Honestly, there’s more things that could be considered a mistake, but like I said before — starting a business could be an overwhelm of information — I hope this was helpful!