The idea if applying a brand image to your company can be daunting. Whether you are a multi-million dollar corporation or a mom-and-pop sole proprietor, branding is essential. The essence of branding lies in the ability to translate your company’s main idea and purpose into something tangible. A brand represents something that people can recognize and form relationships with, essentially giving your company a persona that people can relate to and recognize as a “friend.”
Choosing the right brand image for your company or product is crucial for telling the correct story to your audience. Branding missteps can and do happen, and they can leave a lasting impression on your company’s bottom line.
The ambiguity surrounding the term “branding” leaves a lot of room for frustration and indecision, but we can always learn from other’s mistakes. Let’s take a look at some common missteps companies make when trying to walk the line of successful branding.
1. Don’t be offensive.
A popular trend for many brands today is to appear quirky, funny, and friendly. But there is a fine line between funny and offensive when appealing to the masses. Attempts at humor or appearing avant-garde can quickly turn negative if a certain group of people finds the communication offensive.
It is important for companies to sample a wide range of demographics (i.e. focus groups) when trying out new branding techniques. By testing the effects of your branding on a controlled group of individuals, you can glean perspective and insight into your brand image that your company may not have considered.
2. Pick your name wisely.
Always avoid having a company or brand name that is difficult to spell or pronounce. If consumers have difficulty remembering the brand name, then you are already several steps below your competitor. If you are recommending a restaurant to someone, are you going to tell them, “Go to that place on the corner, but I can’t remember the name, so figure it out”? No, you are going to tell them to go to Urban Spoon (even if you like the nameless place better) because you can actually tell your friend the name of the establishment.
3. Have a well-designed logo.
Having a logo that successfully conveys your brand image is one of the most important branding decisions you can make. Your logo needs to be thoughtful and recognizable, as well as something that suits your company. Although it may be convenient to throw together a logo that has your three initials, you need to resist the temptation. Your logo needs to tell the viewer something about your company: what you do, how you do it, and who you are.
One of the best ways to test the success of a potential logo is to ask individuals who are not invested in the company. Show your potential logo to someone who has no idea what you do or what the brand is associated with, then ask them what kind of businesses they think would have a logo like yours. If they tell you “banking” when you are a bakery, then you need to rethink your logo.
To walk a straight and narrow path to successful branding, be sure to avoid offensive branding behavior, pick a good name, and have a well-designed logo. Of course, there is much more to branding than these three simple guidelines, but they will help you to avoid negative setbacks in your branding efforts.