Small Businesses most times underestimate the power of branding. This, no doubt ranks as one of the deadliest mistakes in the world of business.
The news mainly focuses on big businesses and their failures (which is understandable), these tiny or big errors collapse successful ventures. But are you ready to hear the truth? Small Businesses collapse more often, studies have shown that much African Business collapse barely after two years of starting up.
Most of the errors behind the collapse of small and medium enterprises are branding errors – or the result of the business owner not understanding the importance of it. Many people think of “brands” as being large, important identities everybody knows about like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple. But building a credible identity for a small business is just as vital as building for a big business and that will largely determine its success.
Branding doesn’t have to be a headache to anyone or a nightmare but it’s essential to make sure you have a little know-how before you start your business. Ensuring that you get the basics right will allow you to steer clear of avoidable errors and take a significant amount of stress out of running a small business or startup. Plus, if you do it right, you’ll likely find you enjoy it! And the value of a good brand is intangible but beyond measure (in a good way).
Below are five common branding mistakes committed by small businesses. All can be avoided with just following the small business branding tips.
1. Bad name, Bad business.
We’ve all seen them: those businesses called “Belle full restaurant” or “Come and go boutique” it is funny but true. These weird and bad business name might never let you progress, few or none of these kinds of ventures ever achieve fame and fortune. Nobody wants to be associated with a Bad name.
Branding can’t be generic. It can’t be unoriginal. It can’t be repetitive, or something we’ve all seen before. Your business is your baby, so give its identity the same care you would give to naming a child. Recognise that naming your business is a strategic process and requires thought. The name must reflect your purpose, identity, and promise. And please, no clichés.
Don’t get it wrong, it’s not the bad name that makes the business bad but it is how people perceive it that will eventually make it bad.
2. You have to spend money to make money.
Spend money to make money, this cannot be overemphasised. ‘Micro-Manage’ is the middle name of small businesses (especially in Nigeria) they love to save wherever possible, and the first place they do this is in the office, that is such a bad idea. You may be glad to save on your overheads, but in the long run, it could turn out to be an expensive branding mistake. If I walk into your offices as a prospective client and your office is very hot, what do you think I’m going to think?
That thought doesn’t only apply to the customers alone. Treat your staff very well too. That is the ultimate small business branding. If your staffs are sitting in uncomfortable chairs or don’t have proper tools or are dying of heat because you don’t have an air conditioner (or at least a fan) they’re going to whine a whole lot. This gist will eventually get out of the company and then you would eventually find your company also battling with a good image. You need your staff to be brand ambassadors and to be proud of working for you. How you treat your staff will turn into how your staff treats your customers. Make sure you create a courteous, respectful brand from the inside out. You can take the Apple brand as a case study for yourself.
3. Stay away from bad business advisers.
There’s a common mistake made by new business owners and business beginners which is taking bad advice. Don’t do everything by yourself if you are not a software expert, you should outsource your programming jobs. If you are not an expert copywriter, get an expert content developer but know a bit about all your business entails. You need to know this, a small business branding consultant who only have his or her best interest at heart – or who simply isn’t an expert can easily sink your business with a good dose of poor advice. And in cases or errors due to bad advice, you still have to pay them for sinking your business with their lethal idea. Empower yourself, that’s important.
4. Keep it simple.
Quick one, have you ever heard of the award-winning “water” design? I bet you haven’t, me either to be honest. My point is the most iconic and memorable brands understand the importance of keeping it simple. This doesn’t in any way connote that you should make your brand identity completely generic – There’s a fine line between keeping it simple and making your brand boring and easy to forget. Here’s the thing though, be bold, make a statement, but keep it clear that’s an unwritten rule for every small business branding. And in order to keep it clean, you should stay away from unnecessary bells and whistles. Keep your choice of colors, copies, and icons clean and simple. And once you have a clear, simple brand, ensure that you enforce it consistently throughout your company.
Remember – you can rebrand your small business at any stage, or launch when you are launching a new product with its own distinct brand. Having said this, walk before you run, as rebranding is a challenging exercise. So, too, is running multiple brands successfully. Be sure it’s really what you want to do, and perhaps call for an expert consultant just to be sure your small business branding is on the right path.
5. Stop! Don’t move with the crowd.
Be original, following the crowd is a huge error. The ultimate key to your success will be identifying a unique or niche selling point and aligning your brand with that, so don’t go with them where ever the wind blows you.
If you plan on keeping your business on for a while, you better stop copying popular trends, bring something new to the table. For example, the logo of Guinness hasn’t changed all that much since 1759.
Finally, ask yourself this last question: Will your brand still stand up to scrutiny in 10, 20 or 100 years’ time? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.