I am often asked why we are so passionate about branding and, "is branding really that important?" My answer is a resounding YES! I decided to write this post to share some helpful tips to get you started and share a few reasons why branding matters.

A strong and recognizable brand is important for many reasons. It helps customers remember who you are what you offer; it tells customers what your business is about; it establishes your business as a leading figure in its niche; and it reflects your business's values. Those are some pretty strong reasons right off the bat, don't you agree!

When building your business's brand image, however, you'll want to avoid making the following mistakes.

Inconsistent Brand Imagery

Consistency is important and failure to follow guidelines is a mistake we often see when onboarding new clients here at Triad. I can't stress enough that you must be patient. Small businesses often have a habit of changing their advertising, look or messaging mid campaign in a panic. Constant change doesn't give ads time to penetrate the market and deliver your message. This is a critical mistake and one I urge you not to follow.

Consistency is key when promoting your business's logo, designs, color schemes, and other visual elements. Stay on target and see your campaign through. Try not to keep changing your brand messaging or rehauling your ads. It can even come down to the simplest of changes. If you use different logo variations when promoting your brand, it may confuse your target audience.

As explained by the Oxford College of Marketing, inconsistent branding breaks down the "link" that customers use to associate the brand with its respective products or services. Not only does this affect sales and leads, but it also tarnishes customers' trust in the brand.

Frequent and Significant Logo Changes

But what if you want to redesign your business's logo? Well, it's perfectly fine to update or otherwise change your brand's visual elements, but only if such changes are made sparingly and while preserving the core elements of your brand.

Coca-cola, for instance, uses a "one brand" approach in which the branding on its beverage is the same style, with the only difference being varying colors to distinguish the particular product type.

Logo design for consistent brandingGoogle is another example of how to change your logo the right way. In September 2013, the Mountain View company updated its logo with flattened lettering. Since then, Google has only made one other change to its logo, opting for a new sans-serif font while retaining all of its previous colors and visual elements.

You can (and should) update your logo on occasion; it's a great way to revitalize your business with a new image or modernize your existing image. However, you should make changes sparingly while ensuring the core elements of your brand remain present.

Not Incorporating Values into Your Brand

An important part of a business's brand is its values. Failure to incorporate this element into your branding strategy is a serious mistake that gives your competitors the upper hand.

The popular quick-service restaurant chain Chick-fil-A incorporates its values into its branding and promotional campaigns -- and given that Chick-fil-A averaged roughly $3.1 million in sales per store in 2014, it's safe to say the strategy works.

Chick-fil-A's values include a healthier alternative to traditional fast food, as well as focusing on family first. In its marketing campaigns, the pioneer of the fried chicken sandwich says it uses less sodium in many of its popular menu items; it uses antibiotic-free chicken; and it no longer uses high-fructose corn syrup. To embrace families and community as part of its brand, Chick-fil-A recently hosted a "cell phone challenge," awarding families with free ice cream for staying off their cellphones during dinner.

Using Brand Elements Similar to a Competitor

If your brand is too similar to a competitor's brand, your target audience may have trouble distinguishing between the two. When someone sees your logo, for instance, they may assume it's your competitor's logo. As a result, your marketing efforts could backfire by helping your competitors and hurting your own business.

In 2015, the online video chat provider Skype came under fire for its similarities to the company Sky. According to a ruling by the General Court of European Union, Skype's logo features cloud, which "may readily be associated with the word sky." This judgement prevents Microsoft, which owns Skype, from registering the Skype name and logo with the European Union trademark office.

To avoid such headache with your business, research competing businesses in your niche to see if their brand elements are similar to yours. Remember, your brand should be entirely unique so your target audience doesn't associate it with a competitor.

Ready for more? Read How to Brand your Business on a Budget

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