10 common branding mistakes to avoid when starting a business

Congratulations on starting your new business! You’ve decided to take your idea out of the talking stage and into the real world. You’re eager to dazzle the internet with vegan recipes on your food blog dedicated to plant-based perfection. Or maybe you’re taking your crafting hobby of crocheting to new heights by setting up an online store. You have the business, but what about the brand? 

When a new business bursts onto the scene, there’s the potential to get caught up in a few familiar branding snafus. But these branding mistakes are easily avoidable, and we want you to know how to dodge them as you develop your company’s public image. Here, we’ll explore common branding mistakes, why they’re missteps, and how you can avoid these branding blunders. 

10 common branding mistakes new companies make — and how to avoid them

Branding a business is all about differentiating yourself from your competitors. And with a lot of competition in many major markets, things like brand name mistakes or lack of attention to your visual identity can hinder your brand’s future. With these 10 branding mistake examples, you’ll learn what to avoid as you build a successful, future-proof business.

1. Forgetting the importance of branding

  • Why is it a mistake? Branding isn’t just about coming up with a name and putting a logo on a product. Branding is about navigating how your customers think and feel about your company, also known as public perception. So when someone misses the importance of branding, it can hinder sales and visibility down the line.
  • How to avoid it: This one is easily avoidable — simply do your research! Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your brand will take time, love, attention, and renovation. Luckily, there are fabulous, reliable resources on branding, like Namecheap’s Guru Guides, that can answer your questions with a quick search.

2. Jumping in without defining your target audience

  • Why is it a mistake? If you don’t take the time to understand who is most likely to buy or interact with your offerings, then your company might not resonate with the right people. And you can pour time and energy into messaging and designs that miss the mark
  • How to avoid it: Uncover market research to see the demographics and interests of existing consumers. Are men or women most likely to buy? How old are your customers? How much are they willing to spend? With a persona in mind, you can begin to create content and messaging that resonates with those people. Determine who isn’t likely to interact with your brand, and as you continue to grow, you can figure out new ways to reach a broader audience.
  • Why is it a mistake? A logo is a key brand identifier, but when making a logo, it’s important not to assume that’s all the branding needed to achieve success. A brand goes way beyond a symbol. The visuals, content, colors, and more all work together in harmony to support your brand’s values. If you just have a logo attached to a name, then you’re lacking a complete brand identity, which builds a connection between your company and customers. 
  • How to avoid it: To avoid this branding blunder, familiarize yourself with the eight basics of brand identity development. Those elements are company name, mission statement, audience research, competitor research, brand strategy, brand personality, logo, and visual elements. Think about all of these elements as you build your company.

4. Lacking a style guide

  • Why is it a mistake? A brand must be consistent, and the easiest way to achieve consistency is by taking the time to craft a style guide and keep it up to date. A brand style guide is a document that tells anyone within or working with your organization how to implement your logo, font types, images, messaging, and other components on different platforms. The lack of a style guide has the potential to result in disharmony and confusion as your brand grows.
  • How to avoid it: Make a style guide! Even if you’re a one-person operation right now, the goal is to grow your business, and that means more people working with and for your company who may create content in your name. The perfect time to develop a style guide is now, so you can prevent steering off course in the future.

5. Color palette inconsistencies

  • Why is it a mistake? Consistency, consistency, consistency! Being inconsistent with your color scheme can affect your credibility and brand recognition in the long run. With branding, it’s all about that customer connection, and presenting a united front is key to that. So if you’re all over the place with something as straightforward as colors, then it could raise a red flag for consumers and decrease the likelihood of someone recognizing your brand. 
colorful papers photo
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
  • How to avoid it: A great way to avoid this mistake is by being very clear about your color palette. Communicate those standards concretely in a style guide. And if you need help coming up with a color palette, read the Guru Guide on the color palette creation process.

6. Missing the right tone of voice

  • Why is it a mistake? A lot of times, how we say something matters just as much as what we’re actually saying. Though visuals are incredibly important, so is your brand’s messaging, and part of your image is an effective tone of voice. If you’re a brand that conveys messaging with authority and an air of assurance, a jokey social media post can break that hard-earned reputation.
  • How to avoid it: Consider common phrases to use in customer communications to help anyone stay on brand, no matter what the conversation entails. Show writers the dos and don’ts of content to best represent your business’s values. Plus, include all of this in your style guide under a section dedicated to brand voice so anyone can reference it later down the line.

7. Not polishing your visuals

  • Why is it a mistake? Just like your logo and the words you use, images are representations of your brand. Grainy images or hard-to-read graphics can dampen your credibility. Even though your customers may not be paying close attention to the details, these tiny impressions add up and can eventually contribute to visitors not equating your brand with quality or authority.
  • How to avoid it: Invest in your visuals. Take the time to create high-quality images and graphics that move your customers to like, share, and engage with your content. An easy way to accomplish this is using free graphic design tools, like Stencil for Visual, that make graphic design easy for anyone. You can produce social media graphics, compelling ads, stunning blog headers, and much more. And you don’t need to download specialty software to make it possible — Stencil’s tools are accessed right from your browser.

8. Not developing a brand "personality"

  • Why is it a mistake? Have you noticed when a fast-food chain tweets a funny quip or your favorite clothing brand makes a cheeky reference? That’s all part of a brand’s personality which helps them develop strong connections and brand loyalty with their customers. Not adding a dash of character to your brand can mean you sound robotic or stiff, making it difficult for customers to feel connected with your product or service.
  • How to avoid it: Steer clear of the bland brand blunder. When you have a good grasp of your brand’s identity, it becomes easier to play around with your brand’s personality and identity. A good way to think of your brand is like a person or a close friend. When you know your brand as well as you do, you can think about how it would react in various scenarios. This exercise is a fun way to think of your brand as a more human entity and add a dash of humor or wit in a manner that feels appropriate. 

9. A lack of consistency

  • Why is it a mistake? All of your materials should be easily recognizable as belonging to your brand. Maybe an old logo slipped through the cracks on your website’s About page, or the colors throughout your professional Instagram account aren’t quite right. If your website looks and reads one way and then your social media accounts have a completely different vibe, this can contribute to a disconnect that keeps potential customers from coming back.
  • How to avoid it: Remember to regularly check in with all the ways you reach customers, including your website, social media, print marketing materials, and even listings on other websites. Check to make sure everything, from the phone number used to the colors selected, is up to date and part of one cohesive unit. These quality control checks are a fantastic way to ensure the holy grail of branding: consistency. 

10. You don’t maintain your brand

  • Why is it a mistake? Let’s say your brand is consistent across all platforms and channels. That’s awesome, but a brand is a living, breathing entity that should evolve as your business grows. Don’t make the mistake of stagnation. If you don’t keep it fresh and interesting, then customers might lose interest in your offerings. Yet, it is also not a good idea to constantly change your brand since it results in confusion and a lack of consistency. 
  • How to avoid it: Take some time — perhaps every quarter, or twice a year — to review your brand identity and confirm that it’s still truly representative of your growing company. Keep an eye out for how the market’s changing and what your customers are looking for in a brand. Create meaningful changes, and when you make bigger adjustments, make announcements. It’s important to keep customers in the loop so they understand the thought process behind the shift. Consumers value transparency and a brand that takes the time to listen and grow. 

Branding is a breeze when you’re blunder-free 

Now you know the common branding mistakes that businesses tend to make when getting started, but you also know to avoid these pitfalls. With this knowledge, you can build your brand successfully. You’ll attract the right people, build connections, and establish your company as credible and reliable. When you’ve taken the time to recognize the value of branding, there’s no stopping you from accomplishing all of your wildest dreams. 

And with Namecheap’s Visual suite of tools, you can work with simple and affordable resources to bring your brand to life. Set up your professional website in minutes while using Logo Maker and Card Maker to beautify your brand with the best. Take the complexity out of creating a logo with Logo Maker. Quickly select your preferred styles, and the software will generate logos based on what you like. And the best part? It’s completely free. Then, for a stunning business card, import your logo straight from Logo Maker to Card Maker, fully customize the layout to meet your needs, and create print-ready PDFs or get them delivered right to your doorstep. It’s that easy! 


Nick Allen

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is a writer, photographer, and content marketer. He’s also the founder of BrainBoost Media, a boutique content and operations studio. With a wide range of interests, he enjoys reading and writing about sports, entrepreneurship, and start-ups.
More articles written by Nick.

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