Four Common Branding Pitfalls to Avoid

April 22, 2015

In my years as a brand stylist and designer, I’ve worked will all sorts of clients and have helped more than I can count to rise up out of a branding pitfall they unwittingly fell into. Creating a strong brand takes hard work, friends, and it can be all too easy to find yourself with some poor habits or being sucked into a set of trends that’s not truly the best fit for your visual brand. As a professional, I believe it’s not only important to caution my branding and coaching clients on avoiding common branding snafoos, but this is also information that my incredible readers need to know! Today, I’m sharing the top four sneakiest branding pitfalls that even the most vigilant business owner can succumb to in the hopes that you’ll be able to steer clear of them, too.

four common branding pitfalls for small business owners to avoid | via b is for bonnie design

The Mix & Match Brand

This pitfalls occurs when you see other successful brands achieving the level of success or fame you aspire to reach. You think, “It’s working well for her, so it should work well for me, right?” Wrong. Your brand isn’t a self-serve buffet where you can pick and choose a little of this and a little of that to infuse into your visual presence. If you take that photographer’s work ethic, that event designer’s color palette, that florist’s font pairings, and that designer’s client experience, you aren’t left with anything greater than a jumbled and disjointed brand that sounds, looks and feels like everyone else but you. This is a tricky pitfall that can often sneak up on you as you make mental notes of brand elements and approaches that you’ve seen done well. The solution? Listen to the voice within as you brand your business. Keep your head down and focus on your work, your brand’s core and your brand’s values. With your eyes on your own paper and your ear to your own heart, you’ll be laying the foundation for a strong brand founded on a heartfelt core, instead of a disjointed carbon copy of everybody else.

The Post-Conference Rebrand

We’ve all seen this in one way or another, yes? You attend an amazing, life-changing conference that’s left you on an emotional high with a notebook full of ideas and new things to try! And often times, the first thing to go is your old visual brand. But is that really necessary? That’s fantastic that you’ve walked away from an event feeling so on fire. But don’t be in such a hurry to change everything about your brand and business that you accidentally burn everything down around you. Before you make any huge investments or hire a top-of-the-line brand stylist, give yourself a week or two to really marinade in what you’ve just learned from your event. Ask yourself what changes are truly work making, which ones are necessary for your business, and weed out the changes that, although they look shiny and sound awesome, aren’t the best fit for your brand after all. If at the end of your reflection period, you find that your visual brand could still use some tweaks to represent your refined direction, then go for it, friend!

The Trendy Brand

This pitfall is a tough one, friends! When you’re going through the branding process with a designer, it can be tempting to opt for the girly calligraphy-inspired typefaces that everyone is using right now, or the watercolor graphics, or the insert-overdone-trend-here. Don’t get me wrong, trends are fun! But is your visual brand really the best place for them? You may want the antlers + watercolor floral logo submark now, but you have to ask yourself if that is truly the best set of visuals to represent the heart of your brand for years to come. A strong brand comes from the heart, and that often looks like aligning color palettes, typefaces, and graphics with your brand’s core values over opting for the next hottest trend on the design scene. When we opt for the trendy brand, what happens when that trend fades in six months or even a year? We’ll have to rebrand when we fall in love with the newest, shiniest thing on the scene. Not only is that confusing for your clients, I mean, how are they supposed to keep track of you when your logo changes once a year? But it’s also expensive, and isn’t allowing you to establish yourself as a consistent, dependable brand in the eyes of your clients.

The Quick Fix Brand

This is perhaps the hardest pitfall for me to see others fall into, if only because it often means a business owner isn’t starting with the heart of their brand before moving forward. You may be striving to reach a new target audience, elevate your product offering or position yourself as an expert in your area. But instead of starting with the core of your business, re-evaluating your client experience and digging deep into what it means to enter into this new season of business, you decide that a new logo and some shiny business cards will suffice. The Quick Fix brand doesn’t realize that there’s so much more to their business than meets the eye, and tries to fix a heart deep issue with a skin deep solution. In branding, there are no quick fixes or shortcuts. In order to receive a visual brand worthy of your investment, you need to do the work and answer the tough questions. So ask yourself what lies at the heart of your brand, what your brand stands for, values and believes in. With a strong and well-defined core and a willingness to dive introspectively into the branding journey, the fix for the Quick Fix brand is in sight.

Did one of these pitfalls sound a little too familiar, friend? I’d love to chat with you about that! Feel free to reach out via email or in the comments below. xo

  1. […] week, I briefly touched on today’s topic in my branding pitfalls post, but I felt this discussion warranted a little more than a brief paragraph tucked away within […]

  2. Cindy says:

    I love how you’ve named the different categories… so true! By the way you have such a lovely site!

  3. […] 4 Common Branding Pitfalls to Avoid {B is for Bonnie Branding} […]

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My name is Bonnie – I’m a brand designer, strategist, and writer which all adds up to one eclectic conglomeration of qualities that enables me to serve you well! Past clients have dubbed me "the Joanna Gaines of brand design," and I've had more than a few call me a dream maker, a game changer, and a design wizard (my Harry Potter-loving heart didn't hate that one, let me tell you!). At the end of the day, I'm a big-hearted creative who will get teary-eyed as you share the heart behind your business; who will lose sleep over the perfect font pairings and color selections to bring your brand to life visually; and who will work tirelessly to empower, encourage, and equip you to share your work with the world intentionally. 

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