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4 Branding Lessons Every Small Business Should Know

When you’re branding your company and you’re just starting out, you obviously want everything to go smoothly.

Unfortunately, there are some easy branding mistakes to make along the way. Here are some of the common mistakes that new businesses make regarding their branding. Avoid them at all costs.

1. You don’t have a clear understanding of what your brand stands for.
Entrepreneur and Shark Tank star investor Daymond John knows a thing or two about branding. The business he launched, FUBU, has been successful to the tune of $6 billion.

One Entrepreneur article discussed what John considers to be “the most common and detrimental branding mistake.” It is “not having a definitive understanding of your brand and what it stands for.”

If you strip away everything else, what is your brand about? What is your primary purpose? What do you want to be known for?

If you can’t articulate this single elemental point, then you’re off to a shaky start. If you have a vague idea of what you want to do or assert, this isn’t good enough. Your brand is your identity, and you must stand for something.

The best way to define your identity is to come up with a short phrase that defines your business. Strong brands are backed by an unmistakable commitment to something. Identify it, claim it, say it, and you’re ready to roll.

2. You chose a dumb domain name.
Once you choose a domain name, you’re kind of stuck with it.

Obviously, you can always pick a new one and redirect old traffic to the new domain, but this is tacky. It’s important to choose a great domain name while you’re creating your business name and identity.

A good domain name has the following features:

It is the same as the business name, or as close as possible.
It is memorable.
It is short.
It is relevant to the business’s product or service.
It is simple, having a dot-com ending and no dashes or ambiguous elements.

3. You don’t prioritize customer service.
Jason Fried, the entrepreneur behind Basecamp, said this about customer service:

“The best feature of a product should really be the customer service.”

Whatever product or service you offer, there’s one you can’t neglect — customer service.

Let’s take social media as an example. Social media is the new 1-800 number and customer service center. What you say on social media is there forever. People will retweet it, reply to it, mock it or malign it.

Bank of America learned this the hard way. When public scandal broke loose, angry Tweeters directed their complaints at Bank of America, @BofA_Help. Bank of America’s Twitter bots automatically responded with formulaic customer service inquiries, which served only to infuriate the public even more.

Bank of America’s problems were deeper than using Twitter bots. Their problem stemmed from an inability to address customer service preemptively.

Many other companies commit the same error. What they fail to realize is that their brand lives or dies based on the quality of its customer service. The product may be impeccable. The website is awesome. The logo is stellar. But if customer service stinks, then the whole brand is deemed unworthy.

If you fail at customer service, your brand is doomed. It’s the one intangible branding feature that you should never, ever ignore.

4. You go dark.
As a brand, you are what you say and do.

Thus, one of the biggest branding mistakes you can make is to say nothing. The best way to form and build your brand is to produce content. This content defines who you are, your approach, your messaging, your goals, and your objectives.

In order to be truly successful, you must produce content regularly. Content marketing and branding go hand in hand. Here are the three places that you must be active.

Email. Email is still the biggest source of referrals and traffic for most businesses. If you have an email list, make sure you keep it warm with regular updates.

Blog. Don’t let a week go by without a new article of some form.
Social media. If you go quiet on social media, your brand will be forgotten. Stay active on all social media channels.

I’m afraid that branding is a big overlooked issue for many startups. With all the interest in growth hacking, content marketing, mobile dominance, and social media, the old-fashioned word “branding” has been put on the back burner.

It’s time to bring it back. As I mentioned above, “branding” includes everything you say and do. Branding is too big to ignore, and too important to neglect. Keep your branding sharp and powerful by avoiding these four pitfalls.

Have you ever learned any branding lessons the hard way?

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