Common branding mistakes (and how to fix them)

Common branding mistakes (and how to fix them) on www.littledotcreative.com

If you're creating a logo for yourself, this post is a must read. Creating an effective brand that represents what you do and attracts the right clients can be tricky. Often times new businesses will go the DIY route, which is okay when you're testing your idea or trying to see if your business is even viable. Before you DIY your logo, read what some common mistakes are and how to fix them. 

Free fonts/ overused fonts

In my previous post about the 5 guidelines of an effective logo, I go over that design trends probably aren’t serving your business. Fonts definitely fall into the trendy category. You’ve been on Pinterest before and probably re-pinned posts like “my top 10 favourite free fonts” or “the best new free fonts spring 2016”. These are wildly popular, and as a result, have hundreds of downloads. Often times when a brand is DIYed, they use these free fonts as part of their branding.
There’s nothing wrong with using free fonts. But when you download a free font, you can guarantee that hundreds of others have done the same. You’re risking looking like another business. 

Pro tip: Invest in a new paid font to make yourself stand out. Go on to MyFonts and search their “special offers” section. You can get fonts for up to 90% off. It's a cheap way to make sure you stand out without having to spend a fortune. 

Not doing your research

Your brand needs to reflect your audience and ideal customers, not necessarily you. Now when you use your personal name as part of your business, that can be a little trickier because you’re so deeply rooted in your business. But there’s a way to have your visual identity represent you and attract your ideal clients at the same time. 

Define who your ideal client is. Include things like:

  • Age (but don’t say 18-45, that’s a huge gap, try to narrow it in)
  • Family status
  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • What do they worry about in regards to your services
  • Where they hang out
  • What kind of home they live in.

Doing this exercise is also a great starting point for building a mood board, which is a visual representation of your ideal client. Knowing exactly who your ideal client is will help you build a visual style. 

If your ideal client likes bright, colourful and fun images, then your brand needs to represent that. If you ideal client likes darker tones and more of a natural look, then your brand needs to represent that. The more specific you can be with your ideal client above, the better your visual look will be.

You also need to research your industry. Is there a visual style that is overdone? Do a lot of the businesses in your niche look the same? What can you do differently to ensure you stand out? 

Pro tip: download the ideal client worksheet and fill it out before branding yourself. 

Posting for opinions in Facebook groups

Facebook groups are awesome! They are a great way to connect with other business owners, get your questions answered or ask for support when you need it. But, one thing they are not good for is asking for feedback on your logo designs. I’ve mentioned this before, you are not designing for yourself. You are designing for your audience. Yes, your target market may be in those groups, but there are also people who aren’t in your market and will give their feedback. 

If you want feedback on your logo, the best thing to do is show it to a select few of your best customers or clients and ask very specific questions. By leading the conversation, you can make sure that you’re getting the feedback you need.

Questions like “this is my new logo, do you like it?” aren’t going to give you any information. 

A better question would be: “For my new visual look, I'm really trying to show my audience that I'm fun, personable and friendly. I want them to feel like they can trust me, and I’m going skyrocket their business. Do you think this logo portrays that? If not, what do you think is off about it?” 

Be very specific about what you’re trying to achieve, and ask them to point out why or why not it’s achieving that. It will give you a great idea of what to do next.

This is true whether you’ve hired a designer to do your design or you’re DIY’ing it. Ask your clients for feedback instead. 

Not thinking long-term

Part of my branding questionnaire is what are your business goals for the next year, 3 years and 5 years? It gives me a really great idea of how the brand is going to be used, and how versatile it needs to be. Are e-courses or digital products in the plan? That could change the way something is designed. You want your visual look to be able to grow with your business. There’s no point creating something, just to have to re-do it in six months because it doesn’t represent one of your larger goals. 

Thinking it's only about the logo

Branding is a complex subject. There are tons of factors that make up what branding is including, your voice, writing style, imagery, visual style, client experience, what people think about you etc. Even your visual style is complex and includes more than just a logo. 

My favourite part of the branding process is the build out. Which means taking elements from the logo and building a visual style around it. This includes patterns, typography, website elements, social media images, workbooks, ebooks, business cards, sales sheets, welcome packages etc.

When you're designing your brand, you have to remember that it's more than just the logo. There are lots of elements that come into play and need to work together. Your brand includes a cohesive visual style, which is achieved through everything listed above. 


To summarize: 

  • Invest in a font to help you stand out
  • Make sure to define who your ideal client is by filling out the worksheet below
  • Stop asking for feedback in facebook groups
  • Build out your visual style in other elements like social media images, workbooks, or business cards.

Megan Powell

Specializing in clean, simple brand design for creative small business owners.