Brand Traps

Nobody needs to tell you about the value of a strong brand. The Targets, Apples and Nikes of the world have provided object lessons on the subject. You proselytize to your clients about how branding can dramatically improve their market positions and bottom lines.

But do you practice what you preach?

Avoid these common mistakes when developing and implementing your firm’s brand:
• Designing for other designers. You have sophisticated visual tastes, and you’re tempted to show them off to other designers. But your clients’ tastes are probably not as well-developed. Remember your audience.
• Designing to win competitions. Focus on communicating effectively with your audience. Creating a piece that will win awards should be way down on your list of priorities.
•Designing by committee. Each member of your brand team probably has strong opinions about how your brand should be communicated visually. Take the time to reach consensus on key elements, or you’ll wind up with a confusing message.
• Putting it off when business is going well. It’s hard to set aside time for branding when you’re up to your eyeballs in client work. Generating revenue is important, but so is maintaining communication with existing and potential clients.
• Putting it off when business is not going well. It’s difficult to devote dollars to branding when times are tough. But during downtime, it’s even more important to get your message out there so potential clients can clearly differentiate you.
• Not “living” the brand. You’re hooked into the visual pieces of the branding puzzle. But don’t forget the nonvisual elements: how your receptionist answers the phone, how you treat customers, how you do business in general.
• Not getting outside help. It’s hard to be objective when you’re so close to your own brand. Working with outside experts provides a reality check

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