We’re actually going to talk about the most common branding mistakes to avoid. I see entrepreneurs make these mistakes every single day. Actually, I see many, many entrepreneurs make these mistakes every single day. So, if you consider these and try and not do them for your business, you’re going to be a few steps ahead of a lot of your competition.
When you think about some of your favorite brands and the work that they put out in the branding that they do, the graphics, their website, there’s always a common theme that threads everything together. It makes the brand look extremely consistent and trustworthy. And it also is just very pleasing to the eye. Humans like having connections. Our brains are wired to find connections and appreciate connections. So, when a business really takes their brand, website, and social presence and ties it together with one creative direction, it’s very pleasing to us as humans. It’s all very consistent. It’s something that I noticed a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses are lacking.
They never did the work at the beginning of the creative process when it came to the visuals around their company. Their visuals have this feeling of messiness and inconsistency, and they’re just putting shit out there. If you go to someone’s Instagram and they have a bunch of different posts on there that are in different colors and various fonts, you’ll notice immediately that there’s nothing cohesive about it. Now, some brands do that on purpose. You can break rules when you’re breaking them for a reason. But unless you’re doing that on purpose, it looks trashy. It looks like bad. It’s not pleasing, and you don’t trust that person regardless of how many followers they have. So really taking the time at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey to figure out an overall creative direction for your business, your brand, your website, and all the visuals. Putting that into play in the very beginning is going to set you apart from so many others who just haven’t taken the time and the mental energy to do that step.
If you don’t currently have a creative direction, you can create one. It’s not like if you don’t do it in the beginning, you can never do it. You just basically have to go through a bit of a rebrand where you have to sit down and figure out how you want to move forward. If you think about High Moon Studio, my creative direction is all about being inspirational & motivational. Second of all, it’s about the sky, stars, moons, and dreaming. You notice that in every single thing that we do, even the copy that I write for my brand, it’s all around that creative direction of the planet, but also that being a point of inspiration and motivation.
Nowadays, more than ever, you would need to humanize your business. Connecting yourself as the founder to your business, it humanizes it, and it allows people to trust you, and it makes people hire you because they want to work with you. They don’t just want to hire you for the services or the products that you offer, right?
Humanizing business is so important. If your brand doesn’t actually showcase your personality as a person, then there’s going to be this huge disconnect. If you are happy and a very upbeat type of person, but your branding is dark and moody and very like professional, there’s going to be a bit of disconnect.
When you’re building out your brand, you not only need to pay attention to what your target market would want and how they like to feel, but you need to pay attention to you. What do you like? What do you want, and how do you like to feel? Merge those two things to build your brand and build your visual identity so that it feels consistent across all platforms. It feels consistent with your target market, but it also feels consistent with who you are as a person.
I’m talking about your main assets like your logo, your color palette, and your type suite.
A lot of people think the more you have in a logo, the better. They think, “I need to take everything about my brand and my creative direction, and I need to fit it into my logo.” No, you do not need to fit your entire brand and your logo. Your logo should be simple. It should just be a typeface realistically. Then you can have brand marks, and you can have other things to help bring out your brand like different icons. For me, it would be stars. However, your main assets should be simple because they need to stand the test of time.
Your brand is a whole. Your brand is your photos, your copy, your website, the way that you lay out your graphics. It’s your social media presence. It’s the way that you speak, what you wear. It’s everything, and you don’t need to fit all of that into your logo, nor can you.
A lot of people are like, “well, I don’t just want to typeface because I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth.” My job is to think about your brand as an entire whole, not just about your logo. I don’t just think about my client’s logos when I’m designing. I’m thinking about how this is going to take them into the future. What are the things that they’re planning on doing in their business that I can like have in my brain when I’m building out their brand? That’s what I’m thinking about as a brand designer because I want their branding to be timeless.
If you guys were listening to my brand strategy webinar that I did a few weeks back, you would understand that this is something that I’m so passionate about. I see so many people make this mistake, and it drives me absolutely bonkers. First of all, when you’re building out your initial branding, choose your goddamn fonts and don’t fucking change them. Don’t use anything else.
Don’t even look at the other fonts. It’s like you married those fonts when you chose them for your branding and don’t cheat on those goddamn fonts. Stop looking at other fonts unless you’re doing it for a reason. All of these rules can be broken if you know why you’re breaking them. Also, make sure you’re styling them the same way that your designer styled them. So, if it’s all caps with space in between each letter, do it all caps with space in between each letter every time.
When you’re changing up the layout of the fonts from what your designer gave you, you’re breaking a lot of design rules that you don’t even know because you’re not educated in this. Just follow exactly what your designer gives to you when it comes to typography and use it the same every single time. It’s going to make your business look super consistent, which then people will trust you more, and that will get more clients.
That’s a part of your branding. Spend the money and hire a real photographer. Like it’s an investment for your business. It’s a write-off. You’re going to make the money back. Whatever colors you have in your brand, whatever color palette you chose in the very beginning, you should be using that color palette to plan out your photoshoots. So, for me, I wear all black and white for the most part in all of my photoshoots. It’s a part of my brand. I know that I should be wearing black and white because that’s my brand colors. You should do the same for your business. If your business has a lot of blues, choose a bunch of blue shirts. Really plan out your outfits. It’s all an investment, but you have to put some thought behind it. And I hate when I see people use imagery that doesn’t match their brand at all. It looks really silly because it doesn’t look consistent or connected to what the brand is. This pertains to even stock imagery as well. If you’re choosing stock imagery for your business for whatever reason, for social media, etc., make sure it matches your brand aesthetic.
Along with matching your brand colors with your photography, you should also be matching the style to your brand. So if you are a business who’s very happy, uplifting, joyful, and excited, if those are some words that you would use to describe your brand voice and your brand personality, then you should have images that are of people smiling and have bright colors. If you are more editorial or moody or a dark or artful, then your imagery should also reflect that. You should have more artful imagery, maybe with some cool shadows, light streaks, something that brings like some artistry into the images.
Think about these things when it comes to your branding, and you will be so many steps ahead of everyone else. I hope when I went through these, you either a) realize you were making some of these, and now you have a way to fix them, or b), you realized you weren’t making these mistakes, and you gave yourself a little pat on the back because I think we all deserve a bit more credit sometimes when it comes to building a business. If you have any specific questions about any of these things, feel free to DM me on Instagram @highmoonstudio or @dreamsmarterpodcast, and I will get back to you!