3 Branding Mistakes You Absolutely Must Avoid for Ultimate Success

branding mistakes to avoid

There’s so much consideration that needs to go into effectively branding and marketing your business.

A lot of mistakes can be made along the way, including not capitalizing on sales opportunities, or failing to provide a valuable — potentially life long customer with the best experience possible. These types of mistakes can lead to bad reviews or a missed opportunity to have a client generate some positive word of mouth for you, but you can recover from these types of issues.

Sell Your Business

Win $100 for Vendor Insights

Drive Traffic to Your Website

Below are some big branding mistakes to avoid. If you don’t get them right from the start, or slip up along the way, these mistakes will mar your business’s reputation forever.

1. Names (i.e. Bad Ones!)

If you want to start a residential electric service company, titling your business as “Your Name’s Electric” may be the best choice. However, there’s a lot to be said about catchy, brand-able names, and not everyone wants their own name to headline their business, particularly in the tech sector.

I’m going to have to get a little down and dirty in order to really drive this message about name choice home to you. How would you feel about taking a trip to the “STD Flea Market”? While it is an established business, I can’t imagine what their founders could have possibly been thinking!

And those are just two relatively “PG” names chosen from the following list of businesses that have extremely inappropriate names.

Once you’ve nailed down what you feel is the right name, consider how it will look in a browser, where you can’t use capital letters and spacing to differentiate between separate words.

Always get several opinions from other people around you regarding their opinions about the name you’ve chosen. Use a name incubator site (just Google it!) if you want a wealth of ideas to choose from. You have to pay at least $100 for the privilege, some of which is the site’s fees. The rest goes to the person whose name idea you choose.

2. Inappropriate Graphics

This is all encompassing, ranging from the all-important logo design, to the header on your company website. Don’t do the graphics yourself, unless you’re a top-notch designer. And don’t rely on the services of your graphic designer nephew, just because your wife’s sister says “he’s absolutely the best.”

The graphics that represent your brand set an immediate tone, evoking an image and feeling in potential clients. The wrong images, colors, and taglines can quickly and permanently curb your branding efforts.

Crowdspring is one of the best resources for startups looking for the absolute best designs possible for their business. You post your budget and essential design requirements and some of the best designers out there compete to get paid by you, actually posting the best of what they have to offer on spec and leaving you to choose which one you want buy from the from the bunch.

If you need to save some money, try a few freelancer sites like Freelancer and Upwork and hire a few different designers for the core graphics to be used for your logo, stationary and website elements.

There are some good designers to be found on the cheap, but you may have to pay for a few designs that you’ll never use in order to find those that are best for branding your business.

Don’t rely on just your judgment when selecting the best graphics to represent your brand. Get other feedback.

Don’t make the same mistake that the “Arlington Pediatric Center” (again, just Google for the image and you’ll see what I mean … ) did with their signage, which is wholly inappropriate, bordering on outrageous.

3. SEO and Social Faux-Pas

There are so many mistakes you can make in the SEO game when it comes to ranking your website. You can read a thousand and one ways to make your website rank better, some of which means doing the fishy grey/black hat stuff that can get your site de-indexed from Google in a heart beat.

I’m not going to get into too much detail here, as I believe the SEO landscape is shifting more into the social sharing realm. Link-building, etc., may not mean much in the coming months, let alone the coming years. Learn from the following mistakes, made by several of the world’s biggest brands when it comes to SEO and on-site optimization mistakes.

My advice? Keep everything you do SEO-wise on the up-and-up. Don’t mess with Google!

Now on to the social side of things …

Everyone knows that headlines can mean the difference between social shares and having your posts buried in the social graveyard; a list which grows by the hundreds of thousands per hour on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Link bait-style headlines can be effective if you keep your morality in check. Kenneth Cole, a popular shoe company, used riots that were happening in Cairo back in 2011 as an opportunity to plug shoes on Twitter:

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC”.

Epicurious, a health food company committed near-social suicide back in 2013, using the carnage at the Boston Marathon bombings to plug their cranberry scones and breakfast cereal:

branding mistakes to avoid

If you start making stupid posts, your social followers can easily revolt and start talking trash about your brand. Remember that their reach is longer than yours.

Last, keep your posts in line with the brand’s values. If you’re a trash talking podcaster who uses witty humor and profanity to market yourself (yes, I’m talking to your Gary V!), then swearing and poking fun at other businesses and celebrities will likely help further your brand and encourage shares among your users.

If you’re a health food supplier, posting a picture of a disgusting hangnail or pile of animal poop is going to create an unpleasant image in your followers’ heads about your brand — obviously counter-intuitive to getting new customers and making more sales.

Share Your Own Branding Blunders

I’ve only touched the surface of branding mistakes here. There are so many more that a fledgling brand can make. Feel free to share your own personal mistakes in the comment section. Please tell everyone how, or if you were able to fix the mistake and turn things around.

Frustrated Image via Shutterstock

More in: 12 Comments ▼

Ivan Widjaya Ivan Widjaya is the Founder/CEO of online marketing agency Previso Media, small business online magazine Noobpreneur.com and several other business blogs/online magazines. He is a Web publisher, Web property investor, blogger and Web property builder.

12 Reactions
  1. Using the name of a founder in the business name is also problematic if you want to sell the business later on.

  2. Reading the examples given all I thought was *OUCH*

  3. Valuable tips definitely. I mostly like one about names, all new startups should follow this tip.

  4. Excellent points Ivan. Given these relevant tips that were given above, i couldn’t agree with you more. There’s a lot to keep in mind here and should be considered in a business perspective. In connection to customers’ conflict or needs, the use of a brand strategy would be a great help, like using customized floor mats on the entrance door of the store. I’ve stumbled upon an article at http://goo.gl/dvtZQG which mentioned why it should be part of the next strategy for business. Thanks for sharing this post!

  5. The last part with examples made me cringe. Can’t believe people actually thought of using those disrespectful and immoral tactics.

  6. Using the industry in the name can also hurt if later on you decide to diversify and it takes off better than your first industry.

    • It is easy to say that a bad name is not good but finding the perfect name is hard especially since most of the good names that you know are already taken.

  7. It is important to market primarily for people and don’t focus that much on search engines.

    • It is important to think about people first before you think of the search engines. Build a loyal following and the rankings will eventually happen. It all depends on your trust rating in your niche.

  8. Oh, so many blunders in the early years. We originated our company in the pre-SEO days, so we weren’t in the position to capitalize on that wave when it came. You’re probably right, Ivan, when you say it’ll shift from SEO to social sharing. The best lesson from not positioning ourselves towards SEO early on is we lost on that train — we’re doing everything now to position ourselves to be people-centric in anticipation of the next wave.

Win $100 for Vendor Selection Insights

Tell us!
No, Thank You