10 Branding Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

When you are growing your own business, every branding mistake you make means money out of your pocket, so why learn the hard and expensive way?
In my 20+ years in the industry, I have seen a fair number of branding and marketing mistakes. I have even made some of the branding mistakes I am about to outline below.

Here are 10 costly branding mistakes that I have seen entrepreneurs make.

Branding Mistakes1. Getting Too Creative With Your Company Name. Clever names may be fun to develop, but if your target market cannot tell who you are and what you stand for from your company name, customers may just pass you by. Potential clients will not take the time to figure out your business. So, make it easy for people to “get” what you do. Would you rather spend your marketing dollars explaining the purpose of your business or let your company name do that for you? Why not spend your marketing funds to go deeper into how you can make a difference in the lives of your customers? A well-named business can simply make your job much easier.

2. Forgetting That YOU Are Your Brand. No matter what you sell – and whether you like it or not – as an entrepreneur, you become the banner for your business. You do not have to do something extreme like showing up drunk to a meeting to undermine your company’s brand. Everything you do represents the brand of your company: How you dress, how you smell, how you treat waiters or waitresses, etc. Keep in mind your representation of your brand is not limited to business settings. In fact, I would argue that your representation in casual or social settings is equally important. Maintain a character that is in keeping with your brand, and I guarantee it will do you and your company well.

3. Not Confirming That A Need For Your Product Or Service Truly Exists. Many small entrepreneurs put products on the market like they are throwing darts. They say they do not have the funds for market research, so they just wait to find out what will work in the market and what will not. What they do not realize is that they are spending much more money on creating products and services that will not sell than they would if they spent just a little bit on some focused market research. So, get creative – you do not have to conduct fancy, expensive market research. If you are selling a new toy, for example, go to the nearest day care center, and watch their children play with the toys. If you are offering a new service, invite people who are in your demographic to try it out and then ask them what they think. Find out ahead of time if you have a viable product. It will save you a lot of money and time in the long run, and it will keep your brand’s image intact.

4. Not Making The Tough Choices Required To Really Target Your Marketing. The bigger your target market, the bigger your business, right? Well, that is not necessarily true. You cannot be everything to everyone. Your brand or business will not be truly able to reach your target market unless you can deliver a meaningful point of difference. If you’re targeting all women 18 and older, you can’t show that entire age group how your product will help them because, let’s face it, an 18-year old has different needs than a 50-year old. So, segment and separate your target markets. Get specific. Find out what will appeal to your focused target market and advertise your product or service with that in mind.

5. Not Being Realistic About Your Competition. Some businesses make the mistake of believing their product has no competition. This is never true! Even if there is no product or service that directly competes with yours, there is always something else on the market that your customers can choose to meet their needs over you. So, get to know your direct and indirect competition well, and look at them all realistically. What will differentiate your product or service from your competitors and fill your market’s needs? Then, focus your brand on those differences.