Branding is such a crucial backbone for your business. It’s the “first impression” you set on potential customers or clients—and don’t we all strive to make good first impressions?
Unfortunately, in business, everyone does in fact “judge a book by its cover”. But if you’re effective in branding yourself correctly, you’ll be able to attract your ideal client and repel the wrong ones.
Having a clear message, being engaging, and opening a two-way channel of communication are all winning branding components that can close sales and grow your following. But to truly master the art of “branding”, you also need to avoid these six common cringeworthy mistakes:
1. NOT KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE
You’re doing yourself and your business a major disservice by not narrowing in who your ideal client/customer is. You need to take some time to research and really hone in on your customer avatar.
Create an outline to understand who your audience is, what their interests are, where they hang out, and what social media channels they use. With this, you’ll be able to strategically create a branding skeleton for your business.
If you’re trying to target everyone, you’re actually targeting no one at all.
This seriously hurt my brand and business because my marketing was extremely scattered, communicating different messages across the board.
Deliberately deciding who my ideal client was—including specific things like where they shop, what they appreciate, and what values they have—elevated my brand tenfold, and I began to reel in clients that I absolutely love to work with.
2. HAVING A POOR VISUAL IDENTITY
Hear this out from a former graphic designer—a visual identity is your brand’s story!
In fact, research has shown that clients take just 2 seconds to form an opinion about your website—which is all based on the visual components of your brand.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to make an investment in a skilled designer, I’m telling you to GO FOR IT (especially if you feel like design is not your forte).
Your logo, brand colors and overall aesthetic really need to compliment each other to effectively express your message instantaneously.
Right off the bat, your visual identity needs to clearly show:
- What service or product you’re offering
- Your theme
- Your style
For example, when I went to create my own visual brand, I was very intentional about illustrating it myself and using it to subtly communicate different things.
If you look at my business logo, you either see a sun, a mandala, or a flower—this is great for my brand, because through the art of henna, I’m able to adorn people with any one of those elements (and henna is generally a craft that is open to interpretations).
3. FOLLOWING “TRENDS”
We easily fall in the trap of comparing ourselves to the “competition”. Word to the wise: don’t do it!
If you constantly try to follow the so-called trends out there, you’re setting yourself up to get price-shopped—and you’re not being authentic in your branding approach.
Instead, try to put a little piece of yourself in your brand. This will instantly translate into the kind of audience you want to attract.
When I took a peek at other henna artists’ visual brands, I noticed that they all tend to use brown or green colors and typical font choices.
I decided to take a completely different approach by adding teal and white to my brand. This was intentional for a number of reasons:
- I’m commonly known for the color of my eyes (which are green/blue), so I wanted my brand to include that element.
- Teal and white evoke a feeling of relaxation and meditation, which, in my opinion, henna offers.
- It added a more bohemian and hippie-like feel (which is what I was going for).
So stop following the trends and try to incorporate what’s unique about you into your brand somehow. People are much more likely to be responsive to authenticity.
4. NOT UNDERSTANDING YOUR SELLING POINT
There are surely thousands upon thousands of creative makers like you, offering the same services or products. Creative entrepreneurship is a saturated market, so what makes you unique?
You want to clearly know what value proposition you’re offering that’s distinct from your competitors. Do you offer a different experience? Do you have impeccable customer service?
Know what your unique value-selling proposition is and infuse it in your brand over and over again.
5. BEING INCONSISTENT
This is truly one of my biggest pet peeves. Inconsistency will not only damage your brand’s image, but will also confuse your audiences.
You need to fixate on a single message and express it across all of your branding.
This is not only limited to your visual identity, but other elements like your copy, your marketing and your social media. The way you present your brand on one platform needs to be integrated and consistent with all the others.
I know what shiny-object syndrome feels like, trying to adapt to the newest things out there. But if you steer away from your own original message, or “brand promise”, you’re bound to lose out on the audience you’ve worked so hard to build.
6. NOT ADDING VALUE
Most brands fall victims of this. When we become business owners, our brains become automatically wired to constantly “sell our brand”.
However, this doesn’t do you any favors. In fact, it may actually be harmful.
If you constantly push to self-promote or “promote your brand”, you become a manifestation of that pushy sleazy car salesman that we all try to avoid dealing with. People are way more receptive when you’re giving and offering value with zero expectations in return.
When you become empathetic in your branding approach and offer value to your ideal customers, you’re cultivating positive and rewarding relationships.
By avoiding pushy sales tactics, you’re also building brand credibility (which is the highest form of compliment). When people trust you and your brand, they’re drawn to you and will be more likely to purchase your services.