5 key branding mistakes to avoid

Jun 15, 2022 | Branding

Getting branding right for your small business is more important than ever. With such a hugely populated market, small businesses must stand out amongst a dense crowd while creating their own unique online space. With just 7 seconds to make an impression online, your brand needs to make a statement, be memorable, and represent your core business values to new clients and customers. 

I help businesses with their branding almost daily. With so many elements to understand and get right, I can see why this can be an overwhelming aspect for new entrepreneurs and business owners. From the colors and psychology of branding to authenticity and trust-building, brands take a lot of time and investment to get right. While so many blogs explore what you need in order to do this correctly, you also need to know what not to do. 

This post will be all about the top branding mistakes to avoid. If you’re starting your brand or need a rebrand for your business, you’re in the right place. 

Why does my business need a brand?

Branding helps businesses stand out from a saturated market. Think about massive brands with easily recognizable branding: from Pepsi to Coca-Cola, Apple to Windows; these brands have a clear message and clear branding and are instantly identifiable from just a glance. These businesses have built up a huge platform, regardless of how similar a product they are. For example, Pepsi and Coca-Cola are very similar, as are Apple and Windows – yet you’re either for one or the other. This is because you’ve connected with the brand itself. And with that, you continue to purchase directly from one business and not the other. 

But there are more reasons why you should invest in your business brand and the branding process itself. Without a proper brand strategy, there’s a risk that your messaging won’t resonate with what your business aims to represent. If done correctly, your brand can connect you with your ideal client, making sales and gaining those all-important return customers and a loyal client base. In fact, with 59% of shoppers preferring to buy from the brands they trust and 21% opting to purchase new products from new brands they like, building a brand is a fantastic way to grow your business. 

In 0.05 seconds, a person can form an impression of your brand. You want this impression to be true to you and what you want to represent for your business. These core values that make up your mission and vision for the business need to be implemented in every aspect of your branding. For example, with my website, my social media, and my messaging, I create work that aligns with who I am and what my business stands for. That way, my ideal client will be able to connect with my brand and choose to work with me. 

So, with all this being said – let’s look at the top five key branding mistakes to avoid! 

Branding Mistake #1: You confuse branding with marketing

While these two are interlinked, they’re also very much different. According to the American Marketing Association, “A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. So while you will market your brand, you need to come up with the brand itself before you begin to think about marketing. 

If you begin to market your product without the right branding in place, you’ll risk an important connection. Your ideal client should and will be able to connect with your brand: they’ll identify with it, remember it, and want to buy from it. If you fail to have the brand in place, your ideal client will likely either never find your product or purchase from it. Marketing is a vital aspect of gaining all-important exposure for your product – but if the brand isn’t solidified before the marketing takes place, it’ll be a waste of time, effort, and money for your business. 

Branding Mistake #2: You don’t research the competition

Competitor research is one of the first things you do when setting up your business. You can work out how the industry is performing, what’s missing, and where you can place your brand amongst it. Any advantages you can take here will be vital to your success. You can research:

  • Price point
  • Target audiences
  • Services
  • SEO success
  • Products
  • Websites
  • Social platforms

Failure to do this might lead to you not fully recognizing your place within the market, not achieving the success you deserve, and not gaining the clients needed for your business to be a success. It could also lead to you replicating a strategy without fully understanding how to create maximum impact, causing your business to fall short of your expectations and falling behind compared to others within the same industry as you. Competitor research is one of the most important elements of growing a business for several reasons, but this is particularly true when it comes to your overall brand strategy. 

Branding Mistake #3: You don’t identify your ideal client 

Your ideal client or target audience should be at the heart of every business move you make. This should be the first step of creating your brand, so if you’ve missed out on this vital component, it’s probably best to reconnect with it as it’ll help your business long-term. In fact, this is one of the most common branding mistakes I see business owners make.

Your ideal client is who you market your product for: it’s who you want to connect with, who you see as your one true customer, and it’s who all your messaging, branding, sales pitches, and more are designed for. The more you niche down in this aspect, the better – there is no such thing as being too precise, because ultimately, when those ideal clients read and resonate with your brand, you’ll make a sale. 

A huge 60% of businesses struggle to find new clients, and 23% of businesses fail to meet clients’ goals and objectives. This is no coincidence – having a firm idea of who you want your client to be and how you’ll reach them is crucial to so many aspects of your business. I would always recommend that identifying your key client is the first step of your entire branding process, and from there you can build your whole, true, brand. 

Click here to read about my proven, 7-step branding process.

Branding Mistake #4: You’re inconsistent

Consistency is key in business! It’s an important way to grow your brand’s influence and is something that customers value very highly when looking at whether to purchase from a business. In fact, 90% of users expect to have a similar brand experience across all social media platforms, messaging, and channels, and yet less than 10% of B2B companies say that their brand is very consistent. Consumers want brands that are able to give the same messaging, views, and correspondence in every aspect possible – so if you are able to do this correctly, it’ll be hugely positive for your business. 

One element that many businesses follow when creating their brand is having brand guidelines. This means that whoever is new to the business has a dedicated file or booklet that speaks about company values, brand strategy, messaging impact, and guidelines as to how to convey this in their area within the company. These brand guidelines don’t just have to be limited to social media platforms and website copy, but can also help with customer service, sales, and more. If every aspect of your business is aligned with the same core values and follows the branded guidelines correctly, your business will resonate extremely well with your target audience. 

Branding Mistake #5: You sell the what and not the why

As Simon Sinek says, your business needs to sell the why, and not the what. “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” If you continue to focus your branding message on your company’s features and what it can do, and not the reason as to why you created the product or went into the industry in the first place, you’ll lose customer attention. For example, Apple is one of the most successful global brands because it sold an idea. It told the world to think differently about technology, computers, and life – and it is because of this reason that the company has grown to the sheer scale and size that it is today. 

You might know your why – why you went into business, why this idea drives you to become an entrepreneur, and why you want to help people. Your why is important. It’ll connect you to your ideal client and be a focal point of your branding. Selling your why will help your customers connect with your brand. If you need help uncovering your why, be sure to grab a copy of my free brand clarity workbook!

When done correctly, branding can help your business enormously. From connecting with the right clients to gaining recognition as a brand, the process of branding should not be underestimated in its importance. But, there are a few branding mistakes to avoid, and some of those key ones are in this blog. 

Looking for branding support? Click here to discover how I help small business owners like you create lasting, impactful brands and websites.

5 key branding mistakes to avoid
Spread the love
Steph Corrigan Design Blogger

Meet Steph


I’m here to break down everything you’ve been wondering about when it comes to starting and scaling a small business in the most aligned way possible. From branding basics to tried-and-true marketing strategies, you’ll get my unfiltered thoughts and advice on how to make your brand stand out.

Work with Steph →


Tools + Resources

Discover my favorite tools and resources for small businesses!


All-in-one clientflow management platform for booking clients, managing projects, and getting paid. Get 50% off


Intuitive email marketing plaform with beautiful templates.
Get 50% off


Highly customizable WordPress theme - no coding required.
Try it out

Free SEO Masterclass

In this 30-minute training, you’ll learn the basics of SEO, including how to find and optimize keywords, and discover actionable steps you can take right away to start growing your website traffic.