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Branding is crucial to a business’s success, but many small business owners nonetheless cannot seem to build a cohesive brand. There are just a few common mistakes that cause this failure in the great majority of the cases. If you are having trouble building or maintaining your brand, it is time to honestly evaluate it for the following five pitfalls. Find them, fix them, and watch your business get back on track.

Amateur appearance. You may think that your brother is a brilliant artist, but he still is not a professional logo designer. Even if you can write html like a pro, you should still hire a web designer to create a professional, cohesive site for your business to call home. Every customer prefers dealing with trained professionals, and an amateur appearance will effectively blacklist you in the minds of the people who matter the most. Your brand is simply too important to dabble in casually. Hire professionals to do the heavy lifting and you are bound to be thrilled with the results.

Generic elements. A logo that isn’t unique and eye-catching might as well be invisible. The same goes for your name and your catch phrase. Your brand is supposed to set you apart from your competition, not make you blend in with them. Don’t be outlandish or brash, but make sure your brand is different enough to be noticeable to your specific market. Being generic will not inspire action in your customers.

Being too broad. You can’t please everyone, so don’t even try. Know your target audience and make sure all marketing and product development is aimed at this consumer. Many small business owners have tried to take a broader approach; the results are uniformly disastrous. A broad appeal won’t have any effect on people who have no perceived need for your product or service. Careful targeting will make sure you get the most benefit for your time, energy, and expenditures.

Being too narrow. Even if you begin as a local business, you will likely want to branch out after building a successful flagship store. Because expansion is a natural part of business growth, you should plan for it from the beginning. Don’t choose a brand or a logo that will lack relevance for people outside your immediate area. The universal is nearly always as effective as the particular. As long as you are targeting at a well defined type of customer, your logo designer will be able to create a logo that is broad in scope.

Not making it legal. There are steps to registering key aspects of your brand, including your logo, your catch phrase, and your name. Once you have taken steps to create a brand, protect with the full force of the law. This will keep your valuable brand from being diminished by impostors. It will also reduce the chance of finding out that you are inadvertently infringing on someone else’s brand. A logo designer can help you through this process.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & Creative Director of Logo Design Works. Since 1998, Mash has helped thousands of businesses express their brand messages through creative and award winning logo designs.