We can all admit to a fashion faux pas, hair disaster, bad relationship choice or decision to have that tequila shot that seemed like such a good idea at the time! But how many of us can recognise or accept the mistakes we make with our brand image. First this is not to suggest that all small businesses struggle with their branding; some very large businesses struggle with their branding too. And there are many small businesses out there who have exceptional brands.
But, lack of big marketing budgets, time and focus can mean that there are some common pitfalls that small business owners unwittingly fall into. The good news is they are easily fixed!
1. Poor quality print
You can have a beautiful waterfront mansion on Sydney Harbour, but if you put cheap 1-ply carpet on the floor and hang wood chip wallpaper (no offence to the 1970s), it’s not going to live up to the initial promise.. The same goes for print. You get what you pay for. The best design and marketing message is compromised by poor quality paper, a lack lustre print job and peeling laminate or a trim that isn’t quite straight. If you have printed materials – signage, business cards etc – take a look at them with fresh eyes and be honest with yourself!
2. Inconsistent use of your brand
When in the presence of an overtired child or an overexcited dog, you never quite know where you stand. The same goes for a bi-polar brand. Blue one minute, red the next. With an icon. Without an icon. Discounted rates or high-quality premium. If you don’t know what or who you are neither will your audience. And then everyone’s confused.
3. A website that doesn’t do you justice
Websites are important though often overlooked in favour of Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts. Though under no circumstances should you redirect your domain to your Facebook page!
Even if you do have a website, with the development of WordPress, DIY tools and design templates, just about anyone can build a website. But is it just me? Do they all look very similar, fail to communicate any kind of meaningful brand story and quite honestly just feel a bit amateur. If you haven’t looked at your website in a while, especially on mobile, take a look, check links and contact forms are working and make any fixes a priority.
4. Out of date or old information
How many times have you visited a website and the latest blog was written circa 2012? Or there are testimonials dating back to 2009. Old news. Actually, it’s not, it may still be very relevant. But it looks like you haven’t updated your content in a very long time. Which is probably true. The moral of the story a) don’t date things that don’t necessarily have to go out of date, b) keep your content fresh. Even if it’s just a quick share, comment or blog once a week. And, please, please, make sure all your contact details are up to date!
5. Unprofessional email address
This one REALLY gets me. Do not rely on a gmail.com or similar for your business. By all means use Google for business but use your own domain to create a professional email address. Include a smart, simple email signature and you’re doing even better!