Branding is important to almost every firm in some way or the other. No matter who you are and what you do, you want to influence the way people view your company. You want to make sure that their perception is somewhat beneficial to your company; that what they associate with your company will somehow increase sales and customer loyalty.
The good news is that companies rarely underestimate the importance of branding -- however, they often fail to make full use of the resources they allocate to branding efforts. Here are a few common branding mistakes that you should avoid making yourself.
#1: Pretending to be something you're not
This one is without doubt one of the most prevalent branding mistakes. There are some companies out there, far too many, that use branding as a tool to depict themselves in a way they think most favorable for sales and customer loyalty; however, your brand is not just something you can put together however you see fit -- if it is not consistent with what you deliver, then it's not branding; it's deception. Don't build your branding around reliability, if your business model compromises reliability for lower prices. Don't build your branding around luxury and exclusivity, if you're the cheapest one out there. Don't make promises you can't keep, and don't try to build an image of something you're not; branding is about highlighting the best things you actually have to offer.
#2: Being inconsistent
Inconsistency arises in several ways. From the language used in communication, to inconsistency in brand- and price positioning, and even coloring of different marketing materials etc. Your branding needs to be clear, i.e what do you want your customers to know about your product/service/company, and your branding needs to be consistent, i.e. what you decide to tell your customers is told in the same way, again and again and again.
"Our software saves companies like yours $Xmil in just 1 year" -> Software is dirt cheap. That's not credible, and it's inconsistent with what you're promising your customers!
Same goes for sending out communication in a really formal and uptight language, if what you're selling is marketed as modern and trendy.
#3: Assume branding is unimportant
In the beginning of this article, we said that branding was rarely underestimated: however, in some sectors, especially B2B companies tend to do just that. Even B2B companies need to differentiate themselves, and the way they do that is by clearly and consistently positioning themselves in the mind of their customers; so they know how this position differs from the competitors'. Not worrying about branding is perhaps the most detrimental mistake that a company can make.
#4: Overcomplicating your brand
Make sure your branding is clear. This means that you should have a few, powerful points that you really try to get your customers to remember. Working with your product and company every day, you may consider several qualities that really distinguish you from the competition, but try to narrow it down so you can focus your efforts and make it a bit easier for customers to understand why they should buy from you.