5 Branding Blunders: Common Mistakes That Can Sink Your Ship

5 Branding Blunders: Common Mistakes That Can Sink Your Ship

Embark on a journey through business branding, likened to a ship navigating the open seas. Gain insights into five crucial mistakes that small businesses make in branding: the website (the ship's hull), messaging (the ship's flag), operations (the ship's crew), measurements via KPIs and OKRs (the ship's compass), and the offerings (the ship's cargo).

Brandon F.
Chief Expozeur Officer

August 4, 2023

Envisioning Your Brand as a Complete Vessel

The Importance of a Strong Brand

In the vast sea of commerce, your brand is your vessel. It's what carries you towards your goals and sets you apart from a multitude of competitors. It's what draws customers in and keeps them coming back. But like any ship, your brand requires constant care and attention. It needs to be built on a solid foundation, steered with a clear vision, and maintained with diligence and care.

A strong brand communicates your business's unique value proposition, establishes trust with your target audience, and creates a memorable impression that keeps customers coming back. It's more than just a logo or a tagline; it's the sum total of your customers' experiences and perceptions of your business.

However, building a strong brand is not an easy task. It requires a deep understanding of your target audience, a clear vision of your business's values and goals, and a consistent effort to deliver on your brand promise. It's a journey that requires patience, persistence, and a lot of hard work.

The Role of Branding in Business Success

Successful brands are not built overnight. They are the result of consistent branding efforts that align with the business's values and goals. They are built on a foundation of trust and credibility, which are earned over time through consistent delivery of value and positive customer experiences.

Branding plays a crucial role in business success. It helps businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors, attract and retain customers, and build customer loyalty. It also plays a key role in shaping the company's image and reputation in the market.

How to Avoid Branding Mistakes

While building a strong brand can lead to business success, making common branding mistakes can capsize your ship. These mistakes can damage your brand image, undermine trust with your customers, and ultimately lead to business failure.

Common branding mistakes include inconsistent branding, lack of a clear brand strategy, poor customer service, and failure to deliver on your brand promise. These mistakes can be avoided by having a clear understanding of your brand, consistently delivering on your brand promise, and continuously monitoring and refining your branding efforts.

However, falling into the trap of common branding errors can be akin to hitting an iceberg, causing severe damage to your brand's reputation, eroding customer trust, and potentially leading to the downfall of your business.

You can circumnavigate these pitfalls by gaining a comprehensive understanding of your brand, consistently living up to your brand's promise, and continually evaluating and fine-tuning your branding strategies.

The Hull: Your Website

The Role of Your Website in Branding

In the digital age, your website is often the first point of contact between your business and potential customers. It's where customers learn about your products or services, interact with your brand, and make purchasing decisions. Therefore, it's crucial that your website accurately represents your brand and provides a positive user experience.

Your website is the hull of your ship, the first point of contact for most potential customers in today's digital age. A poorly designed or maintained website is akin to a hole in the hull of your ship, causing it to sink even before it leaves the dock.

In the digital age, your website is often the first point of contact between your business and potential customers. It's where customers learn about your products or services, interact with your brand, and make purchasing decisions. Therefore, it's crucial that your website accurately represents your brand and provides a positive user experience.

The Importance of Website Design in Branding

Website design plays a crucial role in branding. According to market research, first impressions are 94% design-related. It not only affects how your website looks, but also how it functions and how users interact with it. A well-designed website can enhance your brand image, improve user experience, and increase conversion rates.

On the other hand, a poorly designed website can damage your brand image, frustrate users, and lead to lost sales. Common website design mistakes include poor navigation, slow load times, lack of mobile optimization, and poor content quality.

Steer Clear of Poor Website Design

Steering clear of website design mistakes is paramount for upholding a robust brand image and ensuring a positive user experience. This involves creating a website that is user-friendly, quick to load, optimized for mobile devices, and filled with high-quality content.

Regular maintenance and functionality testing of your website are essential practices that can help you detect and rectify any issues that might hamper user experience. Moreover, utilizing analytics tools can offer invaluable insights into user interactions with your website, thereby assisting you in pinpointing areas that require enhancement.

It's not uncommon for small business owners to opt for a low-cost website build, or even take the DIY route. However, the difference between the websites of a big brand and a small company is noticeable – not necessarily in terms of page-structure or the volume of content, but in the evident focus and efforts invested into the site.

Consider this analogy: you can hire a professional baker to bake your wedding cake, or you can learn from a YouTube tutorial and do it yourself. The choice is yours, but for the business owner who means business, there's a silver lining: a well-crafted and thoughtfully designed website can significantly set you apart from your competitors, and the return on investment can be substantial!

The Flag: Your Messaging

The Role of Messaging in Branding

Just as a flag on a ship signifies its identity and origin, your brand's messaging signifies your business's identity and values to the world. It's the flag that you fly high for all to see, and it's crucial that it authentically represents what your business stands for.

Your messaging encompasses everything from the copy on your website to the tone of your customer service interactions. It's the voice of your brand, and it needs to consistently communicate your unique value proposition in every customer interaction.

This also includes the tactics that you use in your messaging. It goes beyond copywriting – your messaging may include the images you choose on your website or the video ads you are running. It entails the use and promotion of your brand and the way in which you go about it.

The Importance of Authentic Messaging

Authentic messaging is not just about making sales; it's about building trust and fostering long-term relationships with your customers. When your messaging is genuine and consistent, it helps to build a strong brand that customers can relate to and trust.

But remember, authenticity in messaging is more than just saying what you think your customers want to hear. It's about being true to your brand's values and mission, and communicating them clearly and consistently to your audience.

Avoiding Messaging Mistakes

Just as a tattered or unclear flag can cause confusion, inconsistent or inauthentic messaging can confuse your customers and damage your brand's reputation. Common messaging mistakes include inconsistent tone or style, using jargon that your customers don't understand, and failing to clearly communicate your brand's unique value proposition.

Additional, practical mishaps that are common with small businesses include typos in copy, overuse or wrong use of a logo, and even a poorly designed ad for your Memorial Day sale. Even when your audience is not perfectly conscious of all of these things, you can bet that there’s an unconscious impression that all of this leads to – namely, that you’re a SMALL business. Small businesses invest less in professional strategy and tactics, and people know this. Big brands make mistakes too – but nothing like the typical small business.

Consider the dentist’s office that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90’s, and that the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in a week. What kind of message do you think this communicates to the person who just visited for the first time? Apply it to a restaurant, now. Do you really want to eat at a place that clearly doesn’t care for cleanliness? Does any sane person think that the kitchen is going to be immaculate when the dining room has seats with cushions that are coming apart?

To avoid these mistakes, it's important to answer the question, “What is my brand”? Brand guidelines are often exclusive to larger organizations, but should be a staple for every business that is serious about developing a brand. This includes defining your brand's purpose, mission, voice, tone, and style, and ensuring that they are consistently applied across all your communication channels. It’s the difference between communicating care and carelessness.

The Crew: Your Day-to-Day Operations

The Role of Operations in Branding

Just like a well-trained crew is essential for smooth sailing, efficient operations are critical for your business. Many small businesses are unaware of the inefficiencies plaguing their operations and the wasted time and money resulting from these.

Operations play a crucial role in branding. They affect how your business delivers its products or services, how it interacts with customers, and how it manages its resources. Efficient operations can enhance your brand image, improve customer satisfaction, and contribute to business success.

Leveraging Technology to Improve Operations

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing business operations, and not adopting it is like refusing to use the compass or the wheel on your ship. It can automate mundane tasks, freeing up time for more strategic work, and improve operational efficiency. We’ve seen AI implementation lead to a 20-80% reduction in time for a given operation, making it a game-changer for small businesses. Nonetheless, those same results were achievable, and achieved, before the world was ever introduced to ChatGPT.

Leveraging technology is about applying process-engineering to develop operations that are effective and efficient. Small businesses are so consumed with doing what they’ve always done that they don’t recognize that their wooden ship could be upgraded to titanium.

The Consequences of Inefficient Operations

Inefficient operations can tarnish your brand image, result in subpar customer service, and lead to resource wastage. Operational inefficiencies often stem from poor process management, a lack of automation, and ineffective resource allocation.

To circumvent these inefficiencies, it's vital to conduct regular reviews and optimization of your business processes, harness technology to automate mundane tasks, and manage your resources effectively. Moreover, collaborating with a consultant can provide invaluable insights that you might otherwise overlook. As the captain of your ship, you might be so engrossed in steering towards treasure that you fail to notice the impending landmass. Just as a deckhand can provide a fresh perspective, a consultant can offer guidance and insights that can be instrumental for your business.

The Compass: Your Goals & Measurements

The Role of KPIs and OKRs in Branding

Just as a compass provides direction to a ship, your business measurements – Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) – provide direction to your brand. Call them whatever you like, but these are essentially your goals and the measurements thereof. These are the navigational tools that keep your brand on course, charting towards its destination in the vast ocean of business.

The Role of KPIs and OKRs in Steering Your Brand

KPIs and OKRs are the compass that steers your brand towards its goals. They help you assess the effectiveness of your branding efforts, track progress, and identify areas that need improvement. For example, if your website isn't converting visitors into customers, conversion rate KPIs can help identify where the issue lies. By offering valuable data and insights, they enable you to make informed decisions that keep your brand on the right course.

Just as a compass must point true north to be useful, your measurements must accurately reflect your brand's performance to be valuable. This means focusing on the metrics that are most relevant to your business’ goals.

However, measuring these metrics is just the first step. You also need to understand what they mean and how they relate to your overall business goals. For instance, knowing your Cost Per Thousand (CPM) impressions for your marketing campaigns can help you understand if you're reaching your target audience cost-effectively.

Navigating Away from Common Measurement Mistakes

Just as a ship can go off course if the compass is misread, your brand can stray from its path if you make mistakes with your measurements. Common pitfalls include focusing on vanity metrics that don't contribute to your goals, neglecting to track key branding metrics, and failing to use data to inform decision-making.

For example, a high number of website visits might seem impressive, but if those visits aren't converting into sales or leads, they're just a vanity metric. Similarly, not knowing what a good Cost Per Result is for your specific campaign could lead to overspending on marketing campaigns. Take 10 marketing campaigns ran by 10 different marketing agencies working with small or medium-sized businesses, and you will find 10 businesses overspending because they don’t know any better.

To avoid these mistakes, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your branding goals, to focus on the metrics that truly matter, and to use your measurements as a compass to guide your brand's journey. This will ensure that your brand stays on course, reaching its destination successfully.

The Cargo: Your Offering

The Role of Your Offer in Branding

Finally, your offer – the goods and services you provide – is the cargo of your ship. It's why you’re on the sea in the first place, and it’s why many in your crew choose to sail with you. Many businesses, in their pursuit of profits, forget about the person they're supposed to serve – the customer. If your offer isn't customer-centric, it can lead to dissatisfaction and loss of business.

Your offer plays a crucial role in branding. It's what you're selling to your customers, and it's what differentiates you from your competitors. It's a key part of your brand's value proposition, and it's what attracts customers to your brand.

The Importance of a Customer-Centric Offer

A customer-centric offer is crucial for building a strong brand. It shows that you understand your customers' needs and that you're committed to providing value to them.

A customer-centric offer is about more than just the products or services you sell. It's about the entire customer experience, from the moment a customer first interacts with your brand, through the purchasing process, to after-sales service and support.

Consider a tech startup offering a software product as an example. The offer isn't just the software; it's also the ease of use, the customer support, the regular updates addressing user feedback, and the community built around it. All these factors contribute to the overall customer experience, which begins from the moment a customer first interacts with your brand, through the purchasing process, to after-sales service and support.

Take another example of a coffee shop. Here, the offer isn't just about serving coffee – it encompasses the whole experience. It's the warm and inviting ambiance of the café, the friendly and prompt service of the staff, the free Wi-Fi offered for working or studying, the selection of fresh pastries that complement the coffee, and even the way the barista knows your usual order. All these elements contribute to the overall customer experience, starting from the moment a customer first enters your shop, through the process of ordering and enjoying their coffee, to the after-sales service (like a loyalty program, for example).

Navigating Away from Common Offering Mistakes

Avoiding offer mistakes is crucial for maintaining a strong brand image and building customer loyalty. Common offer mistakes include failing to understand your customers' needs, offering products or services that don't provide value to your customers, and providing poor customer service.

Oftentimes, the Captain sets sail because they believe their cargo is precious – but they never even consider the end user or buyer of that cargo.

To avoid these mistakes, it's important to have a deep understanding of your customers' needs, to ensure that your products or services provide real value to your customers, and to provide excellent customer service.

Conclusion: Navigating the Storm

In conclusion, these five critical aspects – your website, messaging, operations, measurements, and offer – can be the difference between smooth sailing and capsizing in the business ocean amidst a storm. Avoiding common branding mistakes in these areas is not only about surviving the storm, but a journey that minimizes motion sickness for everyone.

Make sure your brand is strong and resilient, your website is captivating and trust-inducing, your messaging authentic, your operations efficient, your measurements accurate, and your offer customer-centric.

At Expozeur, we have a rich history of helping entrepreneurs and small businesses navigate these treacherous waters, enabling them to build strong brands that stand the test of time. We’re just ship-builders that love to build shops. Remember, if you’re in it for the long-haul, you're not just building a business; you're building a brand. Set sail with confidence, navigate with precision, and reach the shores of success with a strong, resilient brand.

Want us to score your vessel? Take a branding quiz in less than 10 minutes and begin your voyage to fairer seas.

more articles.