Creating a brand experience isn’t just about having a good logo. It’s about the whole process you take your clients through from start to finish. This includes your brand’s visual identity, voice, message, quality, and service. All these elements together define the brand building process, set you apart from your competition, and compels a potential client or customer to choose you over someone else. As you can see, having a solid brand presence is important!
Too often, however, I see lots of brands struggle to maintain this consistency. Building a brand requires lots of trial and error. From my years art directing ad campaigns at a design agency to starting my own photography business, I’ve learned a lot from mistakes!
Here are some of the most common mistakes I’ve noticed in many brands and how you can fix them.
1. Not having brand guidelines
Before anything else, it’s absolutely imperative to get your brand visuals established. This includes everything from typefaces, to colors, to photo styles. If you hire a professional designer, they should create a document that defines every visual aspect of your brand. This document is usually called “brand guidelines” or a “brand style guide” and it should be passed along to anyone who creates work with your brand. Essentially, this is your brand’s bible that ensures consistency no matter who is working with your brand.
Not having a brand guide makes it extremely difficult to keep consistency throughout your messaging and visuals. If you haven’t already, create one or hire someone to make one for you. Here’s a great article that goes into depth about what exactly should be in your brand guide.
2. Not investing in branding
There’s nothing wrong with taking a DIY approach to get your brand going! We all have to start somewhere, right? If you have the budget from the start to hire a professional designer and photographer, that’s great!
If you don’t (as most of us do), don’t be afraid to invest in your brand as your business grows. This is an investment that will likely pay for itself rather quickly and gets you on the right path to looking more professional.
This doesn’t just apply to logos, but your photos, too! Photos can make or break your product or service. Provide your audience with visuals that excite, entertain, or inspire them! Some affordable options include little photo shops or high-quality free resources. With everyone online nowadays, it’s extremely important that your photos can grab your audience’s attention and show your product or service in a fun way!
3. Not finding your own voice
I was afraid of being too informal when it came to emails or writing social media captions. But it’s okay to be slightly informal! It shows your personality and authenticity. People want to connect with brands that make them feel good, not just someone trying to sell them something.
Another common mistake of the brand building process is not believing in yourself. As cheesy as that may sound, your audience needs to see your confidence in what you do. If you don’t have confidence behind your work, how can your audience trust you? If you truly have a passion for what you do, show it!
Remember, the goal of your brand is to create a unique experience that sets you apart from the rest. You can’t do that without showing personality and confidence. Don’t be afraid to just be yourself—that’s why people love your brand over anyone else’s. 🙂
4. Too much/not enough social media
It’s super easy to spread ourselves out thin and try to be on as many social channels as possible. But if there’s channels that aren’t bringing you clients, it isn’t worth spending time on them. See which ones work best for your business. Then, pick one or two and stick to them. That way, you can put a lot more effort into creating awesome content for those specific channels. Quality > quantity.
There is a flip side to this as well, and that’s not being discoverable online. What’s the first thing you do when you hear about a new business? Google it. See what they’re about. Look for them on social media. And what do you do if you can’t find anything about them? Kinda forget about them?
It’s important to have a social media presence because that’s the easiest and quickest way to show up online! Make sure you’re continually adding content on a consistent basis to prove that you’re in business and ready for clients!
5. Not partnering up with others
We’re in a time of collaboration. Don’t be afraid to partner with other businesses—this should be beneficial to both of your brands. By tapping into another different, yet similar audience, you can grow your customer base and trust.
Reach out to others in your field and establish a relationship with them. Maybe there’s a way for you to do a social media campaign together. Or, maybe they become a great reference that you can pass extra work onto, and vice versa. This isn’t just wonderful for exposure, but also helps to build community around your brand.
6. Not defining your focus
You won’t grow if you’re constantly comparing your brand with your competitors. Find what sets you apart, define that focus, and really amplify that quality. That’s what makes your brand YOU anyway!
Have a strong angle that’s unique to you. It is absolutely essential that you define your audience and brand’s focus. Let’s take Chipotle and Taco Bell for example. Chipotle’s slogan is “food with integrity” whereas Taco Bell’s is “live más.” Chipotle has narrowed their focus to those who enjoy eating a healthier and environmentally responsible option of fast food. Taco Bell embraces not just the experience of their food, but the life-enriching actions that they create with the brand (such as the Live Mas Scholarship). Both are competitors, yet both attract a different audience and succeed.
Find that angle that will set you apart and attract your ideal audience. Maybe that’s through colorful branding, or uplifting messages and actions. Experiment with different elements and see what resonates with your audience most.
7. Giving up too quickly
It takes time to build a brand! When you’re just starting out and your budget is small, focus on economical ways that you can both save time and build your brand. I see lots of brands relying solely on social media ads. Paid ads can get expensive quickly and can also be a waste of time and money if you aren’t clear on who your audience is.
Take that initial year (or two!) to really experiment, grow, and explore your audience’s needs. Once you have that nailed down, then that’s when you can invest in paid ads and get that growth you’ve been looking for.
8. Not being consistent
Have you ever found someone on Instagram and visited their website and felt it was a bit off? Maybe their images didn’t match the vibe of their website. Or, maybe the tone of the website sounded like it was someone else.
Make sure your brand experience is consistent throughout your social media, website, emails, and newsletters. Everything from your messaging, your tone, colors, and visuals should match. This builds a reputation for your brand that becomes recognizably you. If people can rely on you to create a consistent experience, you will gain your audience’s trust and loyalty.
Why do we love certain brands? Because of the consistent, reliable experience they give us. Ensure your brand is doing just that!
9. Not going beyond social media
Social media is a fabulous start to get your online presence going. But make sure you’re also utilizing your blog posts and email lists so you can get that traffic to a place where you have control over it.
We don’t own our audience on Facebook or Instagram, so it’s absolutely necessary we drive that precious traffic to a place where we can have direct contact with them. In fact, email conversion rates are higher than social media and organic traffic combined. That’s because your audience trusts you with their email and wants to hear from you!
No worries if you haven’t started building that list yet! It’s never too late to start 🙂 Check out this article for more tips on using Instagram to build your email list!
Let’s face it: the brand building process isn’t easy! If it were, I think almost everybody would own a business 😉 But you can totally do this! Make sure that you have a strong angle that sets you apart. Emphasize your uniqueness through compelling images and consistent messaging. Create a strong brand presence throughout your social media, website, and email campaigns.
Don’t get discouraged if you feel your brand isn’t taking off right away. It may even take a couple years for your brand to gather its momentum. But you’re in this for the long haul, right?! 🙂 Given time, patience, and some hard work, you’re well on your way to creating that successful brand of yours!