8 Deadly Sins to Avoid When Creating Your Brand
Too often I hear entrepreneurs confuse design with branding. Or a logo. Or a tagline.
Branding goes beyond the colors in your logo and the look and feel of your site, and strong branding isn't something that can be afforded by mega-brands like Target and Nike.
Today, I'm going to cover the 7 deadly sins to avoid when creating your brand, and what solopreneurs and entrepreneurs can do instead!
1. Not starting with a complete brand story
When a business is in its beginning stages, entrepreneurs spend all this time putting together a product or service to sell, hiring a designer to build their website, coming up with sales packages, hiring a copywriter to handle their messaging, determining logistics, and wrapping everything together neatly with a beautiful bow...
But too entrepreneurs forget to complete their brand story. Your design, messaging, logistics, payment, sales packages, and beautiful website are all important, but what's really going to make your brand attractive is a deeper brand story with a solid foundation that provides a full and satisfying journey for your customers.
Thoughtful brand stories are what separate businesses who keep customers coming back and businesses who are after a quick sale (whether intentional or not).
ACTION STEP: Take the time to complete your brand story and go from there. It will simplify and strengthen all communication between your brand, your customers and your employees (or contractors) now and in the future.
If you need help with your brand story, click here.
2. Hiding behind products and services
The products and services you provide your customers are not your brand and you can only hide behind them for so long.
Having a fantastic offering is great, but it's not what's going to help you squash the competition.
ACTION STEP: Step out from behind the mask of your products and services and get to the root of the problem they solve for your customers. This leads into deadly sin number 3...
3. Not knowing your audience
Mama told me I can't please everyone in life. Same goes for business, and I'm sure you've heard this before, BUT are you using it as a rule?
This is something we all struggle with, because we don't want to turn business away, but in the end we miss out on business we could've won by at least personalizing our marketing efforts.
ACTION STEP: Create profiles for your target audience. Map out each persona and incorporate them into your brand story.
For example, a designer builds websites for authors, but is trying to scale out her business and work with other creatives too.
While it's great that she's looking to grow, the transition will go smoother if she maps out the specific types of "creatives" she's looking to work with and then targets her messaging towards each of them.
4. Choosing an overly used, saturated name for your brand
We see this all the time as consumers, so don't make this mistake as a business owner!
Unless you're adding your name to your brand, like Sandra Bullock Designs, it's best to find something that you'd be able to trademark now or in the future.
Not only will this help customers remember you, but it will make it easier for customers to find you on Google should they forget your specific URL (a lot of people lose business because of this one small detail).
ACTION STEP: If you haven't come up with a name for your brand, try adding your name or an interesting family name or coming up with a new and unique name altogether.
If you've already named your business something with high competition, try adding your location or your specialization in your name.
For example, my company's name is Fancy Designs so to differentiate it from the competition, I'll add my name and location, making it Fancy Designs Dallas, by Sandra Bullock.
5. Telling customers what you do, but leaving out the "why"
To put it simple, Apple tells you why to buy, Microsoft doesn't.
Airbnb wants you to feel less like a traveler and more like a local and they want to help you make money on the side by renting out rooms in your home.
Walmart wants you to spend less and live more, and me?
I want to help you create a brand story that's so addictive it will sky-rocket the success of your business and keep your customers coming back for more.
Let's not confuse our WHY with the "what makes you better than the competition."
Your "why" is the philosophical fuel of your business.
ACTION STEP: If you want to compete, the best thing you can do for yourself and your business is figure out your why.
You already know what you're offering and you can easily make that clear to your customers, but there's also a zillion other people offering the same thing... so WHY should we choose you?
Think long and hard about this and write it down. Then make sure to weave it into your messaging.
6. Not thinking through your emotional promise
Top brands make emotional promises to their consumers, and we, the consumers, buy into this emotional promise every time we make a repeat purchase.
Whether that emotional promise is to help you relax, make you feel creative and innovative, or to help you feel you like you're contributing to the greater good, that promise is there and it's powerful.
ACTION STEP: What we have to do as entrepreneurs is figure out what emotional promise we want to deliver. Are we going to save our customers time? Improve their bottom line? Make them feel better about themselves by showing them what to wear?
And then we have to deliver... time and time again.
7. Not carving out a clear customer journey
A lot of entrepreneurs think about their customer avatars, set up out the purchase path, and create a smooth on-boarding process but what's particularly powerful in when attempting to create a solid brand is taking time to carve out a clear, fulfilling customer journey.
The customer journey starts from the initial pain point, goes to search and discovery, then to the initial purchase, on-boarding, and then...
ACTION STEP: You have to guide the customer and tell them what happens next. Leave nothing up to interpretation and steer them in the right direction (back to you!) as much as possible.
Decide whether you're after a quick sale or after a lifetime (or repeat) customer.
Which one is most valuable to you?
8. Overlooking the tiny details
Details matter when it comes to retaining customers.
Gaps in your communication or holes in your brand story will confuse your customers and cause them to leave or choose a competitor that's easier to understand.
Everything should be seamless and simple, and should speak to your brand story.
ACTION STEP: Comb through your website and revisit your brand story multiple times to make sure that you're explaining everything so clearly, that a first-time visitor could instantly understand your message in one scroll.