Common Branding Mistakes and How They Miss the Mark

When it comes to refreshing or creating a brand there are a few common pitfalls agencies and businesses fall prey to.

These mistakes are often innocent—no one is intentionally ignoring key aspects of branding. But they are costly and create confusion around your unique value to the market. Here are four branding misconceptions we see all too often and how they miss the mark.

1) “My brand is my logo.”

In our visually driven world, it’s common to hear the notion that your unique mark is your unique identity. The mark lives on your website, marketing collateral, emails, and business cards. So, the argument goes, a logo is the brand—my business is my mark.

But this mark can only communicate so much. It can tell part of the story but it can’t communicate your brand truth or central ideal. A logo is limited in communication and so it can’t bear the weight of your entire value or market position.

A logo is not your brand.

2) “My brand is my color palette.”

Colors create powerful and subconscious emotional connections to people and things. They play a pivotal role in how our brain understands a person, businesses, or platform.

But colors too are limited. They can communicate broad themes such as passion, discipline, legacy, or creativity. But they cannot narrate the whole brand story. Choosing blue instead of green is not a rebrand.

A color is not your brand.

3) “My brand is my mission statement.”

A mission statement helps us understand why a company exists. It educates and excites people to join the cause or partner with them in business. It’s a crucial piece of the brand as a company unpacks their “Why?” for the world to see.

However, fitting a new brand into a mission statement causes a great deal of confusion and run-on sentences. Companies everywhere have turned their mission statement into a mission novel as they desperately try to say everything and end up saying nothing.

Mission statements are part of the whole—they create a point of context for the reader.

But a mission statement is not your brand.

4) “My brand is my tagline.”

How many hours and hours do creatives sit inside a room debating the next tagline? Too many.

True, it’s crucial to lead with powerful and actionable words in your tagline. But this is an introduction to your business, not the end. Too many executives stress themselves out trying to line up the perfect three words or phrase. But to believe that your whole brand—the entirety of your complex business—can live in just a few words is just not possible.

A better approach to a tagline is to see it in the context of a brand pyramid. Your tagline is the very tip of your brand—not unlike your logo. People see it from far away and hopefully, they recognize it.
However, it’s not the whole thing—it’s not even the most important thing. A healthy tagline simply introduces your core value proposition and key differentiators with clarity and brevity. It should be born from the hard work of strategic planning.

A tagline is not your brand.

A brand identity, like a human identity, is complex and multi-faceted. It’s full of nuance, flavor, and character.

Therefore, branding touches every medium of communication—not just one or two. To evolve as a brand is to not only change the logo, edit the tagline, or adopt a secondary color palette. Rather, a successful brand refresh or creation is at the intersection of strategy, communication, and design. A successful brand looks, feels, and communicates from a core belief and position.

Changing your brand identity is a journey that should push you ever deeper into your business strategy and value proposition. Don’t shortchange the transition or skim over the process.

Consumers have a way of flocking towards the authentic.

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