Illustration representing branding

In Monday’s blog post, I wrote about what branding is and why it’s important. Today, I want to expand on that and go into the mistakes companies often make with their branding, and how to correct them. Even the most well-intentioned companies can stumble into branding pitfalls. Below I’ve outlined several different branding mistakes, with examples, and how to fix them.

Lack of Consistency

Computer equipment representing a tech company

Inconsistency in branding dilutes the message and confuses customers. For example, let’s use a fictional company, “XYZ Tech,” that offers a range of tech products targeting both consumer and business markets. XYZ Tech has a strong brand presence online, with a great website, active social media profiles, and engaging content. However, despite these efforts, there’s a lack of consistency in their branding.

Example of Lack of Consistency: While XYZ Tech’s website and social media platforms feature modern and vibrant visuals, their email newsletters and printed marketing materials, such as brochures and flyers, use a different color scheme and typography. Additionally, the tone of voice in their social media posts is casual and friendly, whereas their email communications adopt a more formal tone.

How to Fix It:

  1. Establish Brand Guidelines: XYZ Tech should create comprehensive brand guidelines that outline the visual identity (colors, fonts, logo usage) and tone of voice across all communication channels.
  2. Update Marketing Collateral: Revise and update all marketing collateral to align with the established brand guidelines. This includes ensuring consistency in color schemes, typography, and imagery used in printed materials.
  3. Train Staff: Provide training to employees responsible for creating content or communicating with customers to ensure they understand and adhere to the brand guidelines. Consistency in branding should be a priority for everyone involved in representing the company.
  4. Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of all brand touchpoints to identify any inconsistencies and address them promptly. This includes monitoring social media posts, email communications, website content, and offline marketing materials.
  5. Use Templates: Create templates for email newsletters, social media posts, and other marketing materials to maintain consistency effortlessly. These templates should follow the brand guidelines and be easily accessible to all team members.
  6. Feedback Mechanism: Encourage feedback from customers and employees regarding brand consistency. This feedback can help identify areas for improvement and ensure ongoing alignment with brand guidelines.

Ignoring Audience Insights

Rich person shopping

Failing to understand the target audience leads to irrelevant messaging and products. Let’s illustrate this with a hypothetical example involving a clothing retailer called “Fashion Haven.” Fashion Haven targets young adults aged 18-30 with trendy and affordable clothing. However, due to a lack of audience insights, they make critical branding errors.

Example of Ignoring Audience Insights: Fashion Haven launches a new marketing campaign featuring sleek, high-fashion models wearing avant-garde clothing in exotic locations. They invest heavily in print ads and social media promotions showcasing these images, assuming it will resonate with their target audience.

However, audience insights reveal that Fashion Haven’s core demographic prefers relatable and inclusive messaging. They value authenticity and are more likely to engage with content that features everyday people wearing Fashion Haven’s clothing in familiar settings.

How to Fix It:

  1. Conduct Audience Research: Fashion Haven should conduct comprehensive audience research to understand the preferences, values, and behaviors of their target demographic. This includes surveys, focus groups, social media listening, and analyzing customer data.
  2. Develop Buyer Personas: Based on the audience research, Fashion Haven should develop detailed buyer personas representing different segments of their target audience. These personas should encompass demographic information, psychographic traits, and purchasing habits.
  3. Tailor Messaging and Imagery: Using the insights gained from audience research, Fashion Haven should tailor their messaging and imagery to resonate with their target audience. This may involve featuring diverse models of varying body types and ethnicities wearing Fashion Haven’s clothing in everyday settings.
  4. Authenticity and Relatability: Emphasize authenticity and relatability in branding efforts. Fashion Haven should focus on storytelling that reflects the real-life experiences and aspirations of their audience. This could include user-generated content, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and customer testimonials.
  5. Engage with the Community: Actively engage with the target audience through social media, events, and community initiatives. Fashion Haven can foster a sense of belonging and community among their customers by listening to their feedback, participating in conversations, and addressing their needs.
  6. Iterative Approach: Continuously monitor and analyze audience engagement metrics to gauge the effectiveness of branding efforts. Fashion Haven should be willing to iterate and refine their branding strategies based on feedback and evolving audience preferences.

Inconsistent Brand Voice

Coffee Shop

Just as visual elements should be consistent, so should the brand’s voice. Define the brand’s personality and tone, then ensure all communication channels reflect these attributes. Consistency builds trust and fosters a deeper connection with the audience.

Let’s use an example involving a fictional coffee chain named “BrewBuddies” to illustrate inconsistent brand voice and how to address it.

Example of Inconsistent Brand Voice: BrewBuddies positions itself as a friendly and approachable coffee destination, emphasizing community, warmth, and camaraderie. However, their inconsistency in brand voice becomes apparent across different communication channels.

On their social media platforms, BrewBuddies adopts a light-hearted and casual tone, engaging with customers using slang, emojis, and playful captions. In contrast, their website and email newsletters feature formal language and corporate-sounding messaging, lacking the warmth and friendliness conveyed on social media.

This inconsistency in brand voice creates confusion among customers and dilutes the authenticity of BrewBuddies’ brand identity. Customers may struggle to connect with the brand on a deeper level when faced with conflicting tones of communication.

How to Fix It:

  1. Define Brand Personality: BrewBuddies should revisit their brand guidelines and clearly define the personality traits and tone of voice that align with their brand identity. Is the brand playful and energetic? Warm and inviting? This clarity will serve as a reference point for all communication efforts.
  2. Create Tone Guidelines: Develop specific guidelines outlining the tone of voice to be used across different communication channels. Provide examples of language, vocabulary, and sentence structure that reflect the desired brand personality. These guidelines should be accessible to all team members involved in content creation.
  3. Consistent Training and Communication: Conduct training sessions to educate employees, especially those responsible for creating content, about the brand voice guidelines. Emphasize the importance of consistency in maintaining brand authenticity and connecting with customers.
  4. Align Content Across Channels: Ensure that the tone of voice remains consistent across all communication channels, including social media, website copy, email newsletters, and in-store signage. Every interaction with BrewBuddies should reflect the same brand personality and values.
  5. Regular Review and Feedback: Implement a system for regularly reviewing content to ensure adherence to brand voice guidelines. Solicit feedback from both internal stakeholders and customers to assess whether the brand voice resonates effectively and makes a positive impact.
  6. Flexibility and Adaptability: While consistency is crucial, BrewBuddies should also remain flexible and adaptable to accommodate changes in communication trends or audience preferences. Regularly reassess the brand voice in response to feedback and evolving market dynamics.

Lack of Emotional Connection

Woman doing push ups with weights

Brands that evoke emotion forge deeper connections with customers. Incorporate storytelling and authentic messaging to create emotional resonance. Showcasing the human side of the brand fosters empathy and strengthens bonds with the audience.

Let’s consider a fictional fitness apparel company named “FitGlow” to illustrate how a business may fail to create an emotional connection in their branding and how to rectify it.

Example of Failure to Create Emotional Connection: FitGlow primarily focuses on promoting the technical features and performance benefits of its activewear, such as moisture-wicking fabrics, compression technology, and durability. While these features are important to fitness enthusiasts, FitGlow’s branding lacks a human element and fails to evoke emotions or connect with customers on a deeper level.

The company’s marketing materials primarily consist of product-focused advertisements showcasing models wearing the activewear in gym settings, accompanied by technical specifications and performance claims. While this approach may appeal to customers seeking high-performance activewear, it fails to resonate emotionally or establish a meaningful connection with the audience.

How to Fix It:

  1. Storytelling and Brand Narrative: Develop a compelling brand narrative that goes beyond product features and highlights the values, mission, and vision behind FitGlow. Incorporate storytelling elements that resonate with customers’ aspirations, struggles, and achievements in their fitness journeys.
  2. Customer Testimonials and Success Stories: Showcase real-life customer testimonials and success stories that demonstrate the transformative impact of FitGlow activewear on individuals’ lives. Highlight personal anecdotes, challenges overcome, and moments of triumph to evoke emotions and foster relatability.
  3. Community Engagement and Events: Create opportunities for customers to connect with the FitGlow brand and each other through community engagement initiatives, events, and social media campaigns. Foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie among fitness enthusiasts by organizing group workouts, challenges, and meetups.
  4. Inclusive Marketing Campaigns: Embrace diversity and inclusivity in FitGlow’s marketing campaigns by featuring individuals of different ages, body types, and fitness levels wearing the activewear. Celebrate the unique journeys and achievements of all customers, reinforcing the brand’s commitment to empowering everyone to lead active and healthy lifestyles.
  5. Brand Partnerships and Collaborations: Collaborate with fitness influencers, athletes, and wellness experts who align with FitGlow’s brand values and resonate with its target audience. Leverage these partnerships to amplify the brand’s message, reach new audiences, and inspire customers through authentic and aspirational content.
  6. Engage with Social Causes: Demonstrate FitGlow’s commitment to social causes related to health, wellness, and community empowerment. Support initiatives such as mental health awareness campaigns, body positivity movements, or environmental sustainability efforts to align the brand with meaningful causes that resonate with customers’ values.

Branding is much more than just a logo and a color palette. If you want your brand to resonate with your customers, it’s important to put in the time, research, and effort to understand your target audience and create a brand that works.

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Amy Masson, Web Developer

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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