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Every small business owner wants to have a strong brand, but there are certain elements that will kill your brand before it even gets off the ground. Some are mistakes that occur in the very inception stages, while others are issues that come up after your doors are opened. All have one key thing in common: they are deadly to your branding and marketing. Here are the first five of ten branding mistakes that are more than mistakes—they are flat out disasters.

Choosing a generic name. “North Street Auto Sales”—sounds good, right? Many business owners consider a name like this, and almost as many choose it. However, it is a drastic mistake. What if you decide to move your lot? What if you branch out into another, more lucrative area? Most importantly, how will customers tell you apart from the auto sales lot on South Street—outside of location, of course? Choose a name that portrays what sets you apart from the competition. It’ll take more time and brainpower come up with the perfect business name, but it will be worth it. Nothing about your brand should be generic.

Not understanding your customer. In branding, as in excellent customer service, the customer always comes first. Before you can design a brand that entices your customer, you must know who he or she is. Making decisions without knowing who you are making them for will be leaving the success of your marketing to chance, a mistake that no company can afford to make.

Inconsistency. A brand is a promise, not just of a particular product or service, but of a certain presentation, service level, and type of emotional gratification. Breaking this promise will not only leave the customer unsatisfied, it just might make them angry enough to never return. That is hardly the impression that a small business wants to earn. Make sure every aspect of your brand, from your marketing to your service to your product itself, presents an accurate and coherent picture.

Having an overly complicated logo design. Customers should not have to struggle to understand you, but this can happen entirely accidentally if your logo design focuses on too many ideas at once. Make sure your brand can be summed up in a sentence, or better yet, a single phrase and try to instill that into your logo design. This will make it easier for customers to ‘get’ you and also be less restrictive on your marketing strategies.

Ignoring branding in non-marketing activities. Your brand should permeate your business, leaving no area untouched. From product development to customer service, it all needs to be a perfect fit. Think of successful businesses such as Nike and Macy’s. They don’t just market their brand; they are their brands. These are not exceptions, but rather two very good examples of one set-in-stone business rule.

Are you committing one of these branding sins? Call a marketing consultant today to find out how you can get back on track. Most of the time, a few small changes are all it takes to build a stronger brand or to restore a diminished one to its former glory. Check back tomorrow for the other five branding disasters.

There are branding mistakes, and then there are mistakes that will forever compromise your brand. Knowing them will keep you from falling into pitfalls that have ruined other businesses just like yours. Here are the final five of the top ten branding disasters.

Stagnating. As the old saying goes, never keep all of your eggs in one basket. The same goes for the business world—you should always be developing a variety of new ideas. Some won’t pan out, but that special one might be the breakthrough that takes you to the top of your field. Your customer needs to have a good reason to return, and constant, relevant change is one very good reason.

Following the pack. This is a variation of stagnating: only changing when your competitors do. While there is nothing wrong with adopting certain practices or products that have been successful for your competitors, this should not be the limit of your innovation. Always be thinking of new ways to make the customer experience more positive and more congruent with your brand. If you are just following the others, the customer has no reason to choose you.

Changing too often. Moving with the times is important, but doing so at a rate that makes customers dizzy will be counterproductive. While your brand and your business must be flexible, there have to be core values that remain relatively the same over time, something the customer can hold onto. These distinguish you from your competition, so tampering with them is done at your peril.

Diverting too far from your target customer’s price range. Price is an important part of the brand. People go to Tiffany’s expecting a very different shopping experience and a very different bottom line than they would expect from Walmart. The same way Walmart would compromise itself by offering five-figure baubles, Tiffany would have a hard time selling themselves as a premium retailer if they had a bargain line with equally low prices. It’s okay to push the limits of price, offering an occasional bargain or a slightly more upscale product, but know your target market’s price range and stay close to it.

Focusing on the product rather than the customer. Don’t focus on what makes your product special; instead, let the customer be the star. How will your brand make your customer’s life easier or more enriched? These are the values that should govern your branding and marketing. Always view products through the customer’s lens, understanding how they will impact the person’s daily life.

While these branding disasters can be devastating, they are absolutely reversible. Every day is a new chance to build a stronger brand and a stronger small business at the same time. Whether you are a branding disaster or just have made a few minor missteps, a branding consultant can get you to pack on the path to success.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.