Oh, branding, you illusive, necessary devil. If you’re a small business owner (and since you’re here, we’ll venture to guess that you are), tackling the mighty task of branding your company can be a process wrought with indecision and frustration. After all, the main idea is to translate something vague (who your company is) into something tangible that your audience can see, hear, read, and recognize. It’s no easy mission. So it’s no wonder that while in the process of trying to communicate your brand throughout every corner of your company, missteps can and do occur. You make choices, and sometimes, you make the wrong ones.
While this is certainly understandable, and even forgivable, it can have a pretty negative impact on how you’re perceived by your clients, customers, and competitors. Anything you can do to cut down on the number of branding mistakes is worthwhile. With that in mind, here is our list of unfortunately common branding gaffes for you to absolutely avoid.
- Being offensive
Being intentionally offensive in your branding isn’t usually something that businesses try to do, but that doesn’t stop them from incidentally doing it. Do the words “Bic For Her” mean anything to you? Since we don’t always know when our branding choices could be seen as condescending or even just annoying, it’s important to sample a variety of people with a wide range of filters and perceptions as a test audience for your small business branding before unleashing it to the masses.
- Picking a bad name
What’s in a (bad) name? Specifically, if the moniker you choose for your company, product, or service is difficult to pronounce or difficult to spell, you’re probably on the wrong track. Do people commonly suggest going to one restaurant because they don’t want to venture mispronouncing the name of another, possibly better, nearby eatery? Absolutely. No matter what vibe you’re trying to convey with your branding, it should fall into the “welcoming, inviting, and user-friendly” category – which means your name should be “friendly” to users’ tongues.
- An ill-fitting logo
Picking a logo is one of the most important, and most frequently mistaken, branding choices a company makes. You want something that is recognizable, but that isn’t the only goal. Sure, having a funny cartoon bear in a jaunty hat will stick in customers’ memories, but is it for the right reasons? What if you’re a law firm? Having a fun, silly logo isn’t always bad branding, but it is if you’re not a fun, silly company. Pick something that suits your small business. When in doubt, do two things: show test logos to people who don’t know your company and ask them what kind of business they would think had logos like your samples (this will show you how close to your mark you’re getting), and if all else fails, pick something clean, neutral, and well-designed.