5 Branding Pitfalls Startups Should Avoid

Know your competitors


Startups should have a great branding strategy to compete and be ahead of their rivals. All major global enterprises owe their success to their consistent efforts in building a great brand image of their businesses. For example, Coca Cola’s red and white lettering, Adidas’s three strips and Nike’s swoosh logos strike your mind instantly the moment you think of these enterprises.

However, branding is not something you can achieve overnight. A lot of marketing plans and acumen goes into building a solid customer base. Global companies spend millions of dollars to turn their business into a great brand. Small businesses and startups have to start from scratch to build a nice brand image and identity.

Many startups make the mistake of taking hurried steps to make their products popular overnight. That often backfires and the company ends up losing customers to its competitors.

Here are some considerations you must pay heed to avoid some common mistakes startups usually make.

1. Not knowing the power of your brand

Startups have a new business idea and they want to take it to the people. A good understanding of your company’s relationship with its target customers will help create an effective branding strategy. Many startups rush to the market without first understanding the power of their brand fully.

You must keep the importance of branding in mind. When people want to buy shoes from online stores, many of them think of Zappos. That is the power of branding. You need to create strategies that help your customers build the relationship with your company and its business.

Also, consider the fact that Google prefers brands when showing its organic search results. So, understand the power of branding from an SEO perspective also.

2. Not setting right guidelines

Your startup understands the value of the brand. There should also be a clearly written guideline regarding the use of your brand identities. The guidance should include instructions about the use of your company’s custom logo, brand colors, taglines, fonts and typography, the tone and voice you want to use in your brand material, imagery, mascots, and so on. Your company may also set guidelines about how your company’s spokespeople should address target customers.

Make it sure that your startup has a proper brand guideline documentation. Startups will lack consistency and direction in the absence of these guidelines.

3. Making the brand too complicated

People identify your business by looking at your company’s symbols such as a logo. Other marketing materials such as business cards, websites, leaflets, and stationery also help build your branding image. Your brand message from these materials should reach to the customers in a simple and quick way. Any complexities of colors, typefaces, and images can be a barrier in communicating with the audience. In their zeal to attract their customers’ attention, many startups create complex designs of logos and business cards etc and end up paying the price by losing the customers.

So, keep your logo design simple. Experts suggest that your logo, business cards, websites etc designs should preferably have one of two colors and typefaces. The designs must be simple, unique and memorable so that it conveys your message to the people instantly.

4. Using clichéd elements

Another mistake many startups make is to use clichéd concepts. When designing their logos, they often incorporate stock images, clicked symbols and boring taglines. Due to overuse, these elements do not excite people anymore. For example, taglines such as 'best-selling', ‘champion’, ‘award-winning’ will not turn your customers head. Daniel Burstein, a branding expert, has rightly called such branding 'wallpaper copywriting'. 

To avoid this pitfall, your startup must convey its brand message in a clear language that all can understand immediately. But try to be unique in presenting your branding concept.

5. Not monitoring your brand usage

A majority of startups avoid monitoring how others are using the branded elements. They may have your permission to use the elements but many of them may not be following your branding guidelines. Any such misuse can damage your brand image. For example, your competitors may have created a logo that looks similar to your company’s logo. It may also be that a review website used your logo and failed to link it back to your website. Also, your partner may be using your company logo with the wrong colors.

Your company should monitor the usage of your brand regularly and take necessary steps before it is too late.

Climbing books small

Read next:

6 Business Lessons Learned From Working With World-Leading Brands