The 5 Most Common Start-Up Branding Mistakes Start-Ups Make (and how to avoid them)

As an entrepreneur myself, I know that when you’re a start up you are filled with ideas, buzzing to get your business set up and short on cash. Unfortunately this heady mix can often lead to making mistakes that will ultimately slow you down.

Having worked with and among plenty of start ups over the last few years, here’s my guide what to watch out for so you can avoid making these mistakes:

No. 1 – Skimping on the logo

Getting Vistaprint or your cousin’s friend to do it for you is quick and easy but does it relate to your customers, will it appeal to your target audience and does it reflect the personality of your brand? (Unless your cousin’s friend happens to be a professional identity designer, of course!)

No. 2 – Tone of Voice

Tone of voice – Over sharing is very easy, especially if you’re struggling to set up on your own and you feel the need to rant or share with people. It only takes a split second to write a Facebook status and press the post button, but if you want to be taken seriously and viewed as a professional business, take a minute to think about what your write. If you’re unsure what to post and what not, just question whether your target audience will be interested in what it is you’re posting. For example, saying ‘putting the final touch to 200 cupcakes for tomorrow’s boho themed wedding’ gives an interesting glimpse behind the scenes, whereas ‘never buying my cupcake boxes from eBay again, stupid seller has delivered muffin size’ simply makes the poster seem aggressive and incompetent. That doesn’t mean that your business writing has to be boring, try finding a unique and engaging tone of voice that still feels natural by following my Tone of Voice guide.

No. 3 – Inconsistency

Do your photographs, website, your name, logo, Tweets, Facebook page, email signature and product packaging all match up? On average it takes 7 marketing touch points before a person will make a purchase from a new brand, if your target audience don’t immediately know that it’s you, you’re wasting your time. Make a great first impression by taking the time to plan your logo, tone of voice and marketing materials so they all match up and reflect what your business is about, in a way that will appeal to your audience. Consistency is also the main difference between an amateur and a professional, but it’s easy to crack. If you say you’re going to email back by Wednesday morning, do it, or even better, email back at the end of Tuesday. Or if you say you’ll post a new blog post every Monday morning, make sure you do. By doing this you’ll build up a great reputation for keeping your word and delivering interesting and helpful content/service which will keep your clients loyal.

No. 4 – Not Identifying your USP

It’s easy not to see your own USP when you’re working so hard to get the business set up, but it may turn out you’re trying so hard to fit into the existing marketplace for your industry without realising that your USP is actually that you’re different. Without prompting them, ask all the people who know you what they think your business is and listen to them to see if any common themes come across and consider your motivation for creating your business to help find your USP.

No. 5 – Not Selling your USP

Not selling your USP– If you don’t tell the world, they won’t know. Marketing is simple – it’s just about clear communication of your business message, and the fewer words you can use to do this the better. Once you’ve worked out your USP, see if you can incorporate it into your logo, or use it as a strapline that can appear in your website header and on your business cards and emails. When you’ve just started out you can be reluctant to blow your own trumpet but if you don’t make it obvious, then people won’t take the time to find out.E.g. Claire’s Delicious Cupcakes – Cupcakes, cookies and wedding cakes Vs Claire’s Cakes – Gluten Free Cupcakes