6 common branding mistakes and how to avoid them

Small business owners are determined and passionate, which often results in trying to take on every aspect of running their business. One area where entrepreneurs struggle the most is marketing, especially when it comes to branding. Creating and maintaining a consistent brand identity that represents the core of your business is essential in developing brand recognition, growing a loyal customer base, and establishing yourself as a reliable resource in your industry. 

Because it affects so much of your business, you must have your brand strategy fully formed before you start product launches and large marketing campaigns. Small inconsistencies and branding mistakes can quickly snowball into a confused customer base and a mismatched audience.

Let’s take a closer look at these six common branding mistakes and explore how you can avoid them in the future.

1. Inconsistent branding across different platforms

By presenting a consistent and recognizable brand identity, you begin to foster a sense of trust and comfort for your audience. This is a pivotal first step in developing brand recognition and spreading awareness to the right market. In contrast, companies that are more inconsistent in their branding come across as unprofessional, disjointed, and untrustworthy.

Everything related to your business, including your website, social media accounts, ads, print materials, packaging, and even business cards, must have consistently coordinated visual assets. It’s equally important to ensure that your visual brand identity can be easily reproduced as new collateral needs pop up. Creating a brand style guide is an easy way to document and manage your company’s preferred fonts, imagery, logos, colors, visual assets, voice, and values to guarantee that branding remains consistent.

2. Branding that doesn’t target the right market

Always remember, your brand strategy should be tailored to your customer, not just any customer. Trying to target all demographics in an attempt to leave yourself open to any buyer is an extremely common pitfall for early-stage business owners. Hone in on your target market and customize your branding to address their unique needs and pain points. Otherwise, your messaging will fall flat and it will be much more difficult to reach interested consumers.

3. Relying on design trends

Staying on top of the latest branding and design trends is an excellent way to show your business is contemporary and participating in popular movements. However, be sure not to lose the core of your brand identity while being swept away by the latest fads. Design trends typically burn bright and burn fast, so going all-in on a trend that quickly becomes passé might suddenly make your brand look dated. Use new branding trends as inspiration, but avoid basing any new redesigns solely on what’s hot.

4. Not prioritizing visuals

When you’re first getting your business off the ground, it’s okay for visuals to take more of a backseat. However, as your company gets more traction, it’s important to revisit old designs and visual choices to ensure they still align with your overall brand identity. Keep an open mind to possible improvements to logos, and ensure that style, font choices, taglines, or colors are aligned and cohesive as your company grows. 

5. Forgetting your company’s core values

The core values of your business should play a primary role in all elements of your brand identity, extending from your taglines and social media bios to your brand partners. Again, consistency is key. If audience members notice a discrepancy in what you claim your business’s mission statement to be, they may see you as untrustworthy. 

6. Poor copywriting

Many organizations suffer from copywriting that is too wordy, disjointed, or vague to paint an accurate picture of their brand. Brand positioning is essential here, so you must find the one thing that makes you and your brand unique. You don’t need to overdo selling your business to stand apart from your competitors. Focus on the benefits of your product or service, not the features, and tell a story consumers can connect with. 


Developing and growing a successful brand strategy takes time, effort, and consistency. Keeping these common branding mistakes in mind will help eliminate certain headaches, but each business will still face unique challenges in building their brand identity. Remember that you can’t accurately present your company to consumers if you don’t know your brand inside and out. Work with a professional designer and branding expert to solidify your brand and create a thorough brand style guide you can rely on. 

Building out your brand identity is a fun exercise that allows you to look deeply into the core of your business and what you want that to represent. Keep your target audience in mind and enjoy the chance to explore your business’s values and connect them through the wide-open world of visual storytelling.

The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at the University of Rhode Island employs a dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable staff of business counselors and administrators who can assist you in growing your business. Register now for free, confidential business advice from our advisors here—call (401) 874-7232 to schedule a counseling appointment or attend our free webinars.