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Visual branding and design: Five common errors and how to avoid them

Visual branding and design: Five common errors and how to avoid them
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
 

Posted: Thu 2nd Aug 2012

In the final instalment of his four-part series on print marketing, Alex Harrington-Griffin of printed.com looks at visual branding and design, while reflecting on the results of the recent Small Business Branding Survey conducted by printed.com in partnership with Creativepool.

It's clear that there is a pretty big disconnect between what branding and design decisions we should be making, versus the ones we do, writes Alex. With this in mind, I thought to highlight some of the biggest blunders made during the branding and design decision so you don't have to discover these mistakes the hard way.

1.  You don't need to sell to yourselves...

A 'crucial mistake made in the branding process is failing to adequately address the needs and wants of your target market. The key here is immersing yourself in your customer's experience and answering your branding and design questions from their perspective - keep a close rapport with your customers and incite feedback through incentivised surveys and focus groups. The answer to your branding questions lie within the solution to your customers problem.

2. Think big

Egocentric branding and design can often leave you with greater problems than alienating your existing customers. American multinational, Kraft, made this very mistake earlier this year.  In unveiling their new company, Mondelez, they were promptly alerted and criticised by the global arena after it was revealed that this new brand name is also a Russian slang word for oral sex. This is an absolutely key example of how lack of research and a poor global outlook can do major damage to a brand's reputation and tarnish brand trust and reputation. The internet opens up your business to foreign markets automatically so make sure your brand and design welcomes international interpretation.

3.  Your logo - use protection

According to our recent survey*, 89 per cent of start-ups prioritise logo design when creating their branding portfolio. This is a positive metric, as your logo is undoubtedly a fundamental signifier of your brand values, product and legacy and thus deserves a great deal of attention. One of the worst and most common branding mistakes is neglecting to protect your logo - the design must be registered with the trademark division at your local copyright office. Otherwise, you leave all your hard work and money spent in the hands of others. On the design front, remember that your logo must be easy to read in single color, black only reproduction. You also need your logo to be flexible in terms of its sizing and the colour of background it may be printed on - you never know what future appointments, collaborations or sponsorships may demand of it.

4. Visual consistency

Before signing off on your logo and brand guidelines, be sure that these can be easily deployed in a consistent manner across all your marketing and customer communication channels. A diluted brand identity is hardly one worth having. Consider your logo and identity design in all its incarnations - from your business card to Twitter icon, it must stay strong in every possible placement.

5. Going it alone

Branding should be considered a capital investment, and unfortunately is not an area to be cutting costs. As Benjamin Frankly rightly said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." In most cases, it is not practical or efficient to attempt to create your brand identity and design internally. Seeking external consultancy or design work will help give you that much-needed perspective and edge. If applicable, it's possible to outsource solely for certain tasks, like creating the initial identity or translating this into a website. Branding your business isn't simple and there is plenty of room for error, with even big businesses being caught out time after time. However, by allocating due care and time to the cause, you'll be less likely to fall in the same traps of those that walked before you. *The printed.com Small Business Branding survey asked nearly 1,000 creative professionals their true feelings toward small business and start-up branding decisions. To see the full set of results, check out the official infographic. printed.com is an online print company offering small businesses a range of affordable and easy to order print products, from business cards to postcards, stickers to luxury wedding stationery. Check out their website at printed.com, become a fan on Facebook or follow printed.com on Twitter.

Read more from printed.com's print marketing series on Enterprise Nation

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