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Branding has always been an integral part of any company; be it a startup or a Fortune 500 firm. However, it’s particularly important now due to the stiff competition from emerging brands.

With the prevalence of social media, consumers are constantly exposed to new brands daily. And while this is great for consumers (more options to pick from), it makes it so much harder to make your business stand out. This is why you need to get your branding strategy right.

Part of doing it right means familiarising yourself with the most common mistakes people make. This will be the focus of our article. So, read on to learn the things you should avoid when formulating your branding strategy.


1.  Not researching your competition

One of the biggest mistakes that brand owners make is failing to research their competitors. As a result, many end up making the same errors made by their rivals; hence, missing an opportunity to grab a portion of the market share.

Here’s the deal: analysing your competition gives you valuable insight of what’s working and what isn’t. For instance, if a rival brand attempted a particular branding tactic and failed, then you’d want to avoid it or modify it before taking the same route.

Besides, researching helps you identify market gaps in your industry. So when you’re branding, you can position your business strategically to fill those gaps. This would enable you to capture the attention of a different audience and begin building and nurturing clientele base.


2.  Focusing solely on logo design

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not denying that logos play a vital role in shaping businesses’ identities. However, a branding strategy is so much more than simply designing or redesigning the logo.

Branding encompasses everything that you represent- from your brand’s tone/ voice to the style of content you post on social media and the values you support. If you want to attract the right audience with your branding strategy, then you have to identify your style.  You also need to think about other aspects of branding like:

  • Customer service quality
  • Product quality
  • Strategic pricing
  • Offline and online advertising


3.  Marketing the “what” and not the “why”

Another aspect that brand owners get wrong is emphasising on their products/services instead of the bigger idea. Here’s the thing: most people don’t buy your products just for the sake of it or because there’s no other option. They buy because they like the reasoning behind your offer.

One business that led with its features and completely missed the mark is TiVo. Their emphasis on the product’s biggest selling point- the  ability to rewind Live TV – wasn’t good enough to help the company survive.

On the other hand, consider a giant corporation like Apple. The company didn’t focus on selling their innovative gadgets but rather the idea of thinking differently about computers. Their slogan “think different” has enabled the company to stand the test of time.


4.  Inconsistency

You might not realise it but consistency plays a massive role in the efficiency of your branding strategy. Consistency creates familiarity, and with this, comes credibility and loyalty.

Successful brands are established through consistent delivery of their promise. This means being consistent with your promotion, visual representation tools, customer service quality, personality and any other interaction you have with potential customers.

Coca-Cola is the epitome of consistency when it comes to branding. In the 130+ years it’s existed, its logo has barely changed. Regardless of where you are, you can recognize the firm’s fun and vibrant logo design.


5.  Not paying attention to first impressions

The next time you think of creating your branding strategy, focus on making a strong first impression. You could be offering the best product or service in your niche. But without a striking presentation of your brand, customers won’t pay any attention. Or, you’ll end up attracting the wrong audience.

We live in a pretty fast-paced world. This means you will only have one chance to make a strong impression. Whether it’s through your website, social media accounts, offline advertising or customer service, make sure it counts!


6.  Being insensitive

By now, you’ve probably encountered a company or two that has gone viral for creating insensitive ads. Oftentimes, these companies had pure intentions when creating their advertisements. But since they didn’t consider every aspect of the ad – including how different groups of people would perceive it – it ends up being a PR nightmare.

Consider the Kendall Jenner Pepsi controversial ad of 2017. The ad featured the celebrity joining a group of protesters and successfully squashing the tensions by handing a can of soda to one of the police officers.

Even though Pepsi did not have any malicious intent, this ad seemed to trivialise the Black Lives Matter movement. So rather than capture the attention of their audience, it completely missed the mark.


7.  Failing to monitor performance and adjust accordingly

The last area where brand owners go wrong is failing to track their performance. In this day and age, you can’t make big decisions based solely on your intuition or assumptions. Perhaps you’ve seen your competitors add an item to their product line-up so you decide to do the same without any due diligence. You don’t even take time to determine whether the product offers any additional value to your target customers.

Instead of making decisions blindly, you should track your brand’s performance metrics. The best place to start is to do an audit of your current branding strategy. Use every tool at your disposal – from interviews to surveys and online analytics – to collect and analyse data relevant to your branding.

This will make it easy to determine which elements of your branding are working and which ones aren’t. Based on the results from your audit, you’ll know which strategies to implement so as to improve branding.



Branding requires a significant investment of time and financial resources. So when you embark on a particular strategy, you’ll want to ensure that you’re doing it right. Avoid mistakes that will cost your business in the long-run, such as being inconsistent and insensitive. Similarly, remember to do a detailed analysis of your competition, focus on all aspects of branding and monitor your branding performance.

Paul Simiyu

Founder and Team Lead of Simpaul Design, a brand strategy and design agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Here at Simpaul Design, we work with brands across various categories with a focus on connecting with consumers and building brands that people want to be a part of. We specialize in brand identity and strategy, UX/UI, and brand transformation.