Bad Branding: 6 Mistakes To Avoid In Your Designs

Do you believe in the power of first impressions? Does it make you uncomfortable when you cannot get a read on people? Well, brand and customer interactions work along the same lines.

Customers like to know what they are getting into before making a purchase. But how can businesses convey who they are and what they do succinctly to any customer that crosses paths with them?

The answer is pretty simple – branding. And to build a great brand, that gets your key messages across, you’ve got to invest in determining its values and characteristics.

Branding is a medium by which businesses associate themselves with certain values, characteristics, and symbols to build a connection with the audience. But it’s important to keep in mind that branding can be a double-edged sword.

It is as easy to destroy a business with bad branding as it is to make it go viral with good branding.

Knowing the flip side makes you conscious of its pitfalls and lets you make better decisions.

So that’s why Kimp is bringing you the top 6 mistakes to avoid in your designs so that you never have to deal with the consequences of bad branding.

Before we get into it, let’s take a look at how to differentiate between good branding and bad branding.

Good Branding vs. Bad Branding 

In its simplest definition, good branding achieves all the benefits we just listed in the previous section, while bad branding does not. But you must also understand what makes a particular branding design successful or fall into the bad branding bucket. 

So here is a summary to compare the two sides of branding so that you can figure out which one your designs fall into:

Good Branding Characteristics:
  • Cohesive identity across platforms and products. 
  • Tells a story.
  • Clarifies the product and service to the customer instantly.
  • Reinforces a unique identity that speaks of the brand’s personality. 
  • Timeless and clearly connected to the brand.
  • Flexible enough to suit different platforms without distorting message or design. 
Bad Branding Characteristics
  • Fails to connect with the audience. 
  • It may be great from a design perspective but does nothing to enhance the value of the brand.
  • Does not convey any details about the product, company, and service.
  • Unattached to the brand personality. 
  • Includes constant updates and variations that digress from the brand.
  • Distorts key messages when used across different mediums. 

Marketing and branding experts will agree that design can be costly, but bad design comes at a cost no one can pay. This is especially true when you are trying to build and establish a brand. 

Branding is the face of your business and the meter by which everyone understands and experiences your service. So it can be catastrophic when it goes wrong. 

The cost of Bad Branding 

Studies have shown that bad branding has a connection to poor economic growth. And the financial implications are pretty far-reaching. Let’s take a look at the financial impact or cost of bad branding to get a sense of what’s at stake:

Poor ROI on advertising 

Advertising is expensive. Offline and digital advertising does not come with a guarantee of ROI. It is all in the design and execution. For your target audience to engage with your advertisements and actually become customers, you need them to connect with your brand. And that happens only if the right branding is in place. So, bad branding leads to less brand visibility and recall, making your ads yield a poor ROI.

Poor sales conversion 

Did you know that the average customer makes a subconscious purchase decision even before talking to your sales team? Your only way to get ahead of the curve and plant yourself in your customers’ minds is via branding. Bad branding designs can put your business way down the list of brands your customers connect with, making sales conversion harder. 

You will also spend a lot of time talking to unqualified leads since your branding does not attract the ideal target audience. 

Rebranding expenses 

With bad branding, there will come a time when your business will badly need a revamp or rebrand. Without this, survival is going to be an enormous question mark. When you opt for rebranding after having a brand image in place for years, you incur  a ton of expenses in addition to design fees. 

You have to replace everything from your marketing collateral, to packaging designs, to website design, all while also promoting a new brand identity.

You’d much rather get your build a great brand and visual identity right off the bat, right? We couldn’t agree more. So let’s take a look at the mistakes to avoid in your marketing designs.

6 Mistakes to avoid in your branding designs 

Branding is possibly the single most important thing for your business growth outside of actual product/core service development. This is how you take your message to the world and make your customers realize the value you bring to their lives.

You can build trust in the market, inspire loyalty, define your differentiating characteristics and become your customers’ first choice with the right branding. 

But to do all this, you must also know what not to do.

1) Trying to do too much too soon 

Imagine you come across a person on your morning walk. And before you have time to take them in and decide to talk to them, they introduce themselves to you with every little detail about them. Would that make an impact? Can you even retain all that info after the conversation?

The same thing happens in a customer-brand interaction when businesses try to convey everything about themselves in designs that are meant to be simple and straightforward. It can easily overwhelm someone and completely negate the purpose of branding.

“Keep it simple, stupid” is not a cliche without a reason. It works. Your branding must create a memorable, pleasant, and meaningful first impression on the audience. Balance color, text, and imagery to create a minimalist and impactful design.

Source: Wikipedia

The European Championships logo has a serious case of trying to do too much too soon. The explosion of colors has no relationship to the brand of a sports tournament. And so it requires a ton of reinforcement to get its core messages across. This reinforces why simplicity, and clearly conveying a message, is the road to success in branding. 

Kimp Tip: Overcomplicated branding designs do not highlight a core element and the many elements on the canvas end up fighting for attention. There is no flow of information to make this a meaningful conversation. Pick two or three design elements at most and make them shine.

To understand more about visual hierarchy, you can check this guide by Kimp.

2) Prioritizing trend hopping over meaningful design 

Your marketing team will be on your back to create trending content and attract as many eyeballs as you can. But, marketing and branding differ vastly here. Trends may come and go, but you want your brand identity to stay relevant for your target audience for as long as possible.

Trends cannot and should not decide the design elements, content language, and USP you set for your brand. These must celebrate your story and have a connection with who you are as a business. You must not mirror the industry, but create an identity rooted in your values.

All this to say, not every trend is meant for your brand to adapt. 

Kimp Tip: Customers are more likely to pick authentic brands over ones with a fake personality. So, do not go trend hopping while developing your branding designs. You can, of course, consult with your design team to understand the industry-wide best practices and trends. But ultimately the ones you choose to incorporate in your brand need to make sense for your brand and your target audience. 

Source: 1000Logos

When NBCUniversal rebranded they opted for a logo with a generic blue color text in a very common font. For the uninitiated, this tells nothing about the brand or its services. While it fits the box of a trendy Wordmark with the most popular color – blue, it has no meaning, hence fails to create an emotional response from the audience. 

There was one reason the brand managed to move forward with this logo without facing much repercussions. It had already spent a decade establishing a brand name that its audience was familiar with.

3) Inconsistent branding designs 

Branding is so much more than your logo or brand name. Customers experience your branding across different mediums and platforms. For you to maintain consistency in branding, your design must be flexible enough to use with no distortion or loss of meaning.

Inconsistent branding sends mixed signals about your business to the customer base and will confuse them more than clarify your value proposition. It also raises serious questions about your professionalism for an average customer. 

Branding = Visual identity + Pricing + In-store experience + Partnerships + Advertising 

Whether it is a mascot, an Instagram post, a menu card, or a billboard – customers want consistency. It also helps you build brand awareness and enhance recall value across the many channels you talk to your customers about. 

Your color palette, imagery, brand name, styling, and typography must be easy to replicate on paper, web, and even fabric if you want to launch merchandise. Create a brand style guideline to avoid inconsistencies. 

Skype neglected the importance of consistency during a particular rebrand. The result was an inconsistent color palette, typography, and imagery that truly impacted the customer service. As we mentioned before, inconsistency is seen as a reflection of your professionalism and it does not leave a favorable impression at all. 

Looking for a design team to handle end-to-end branding design at an affordable price with quality deliverables? Start a free Kimp Graphics trial today! 

4) Neglecting Design Thinking 

Design thinking has two principles that are of the utmost relevance to branding – thinking from the customers’ perspective and involving the entire team in the design process. If you want your branding to be true to your company’s vision, mission, and values, you need different voices at the table. Even when you outsource it to a design service like Kimp, we encourage clients to fill out design briefs with everyone’s input.

Also, the message, tone, and design of your brand must make sense to your customer. Since you are so close to your brand, it is easy for you to relate to the design instantly. But if you want the branding to do its job, you must consider how customers will react to the color, fonts, images, and brand name too. 

Kimp Tip: Colors and fonts have different connotations across different cultures and generations. Identifying your target audience will help you choose the branding design elements in an orderly manner. Work with a Kimp Graphics team to see how choosing the right font and design style for your brand can make a big difference.

Source: Raconteur
5) Dismissing the need for quality design 

Yes, nothing kills the vibe like inferior quality. And we just don’t mean poor design. We mean everything from the design process to the quality of output you receive from your design team. You can, of course, choose to go down the DIY route, but given the significance and scope of branding in a business, it may not be a sustainable choice in the long term.

Your branding designs must look equally beautiful on a landing page, website homepage, package design, social media profile, posters, flyers, signages, and a massive billboard on a highway. And this takes skill, patience, and access to a lot of resources you may not have.

Connect with a professional design team so that you get it right the first time and save yourself from a lot of heartbreak later! 

If it is the budget you are worried about, take advantage of Kimp’s unlimited graphic design subscriptions. With Kimp Graphics and Kimp Video subscriptions, you can have a team of talented designers working on your branding at a flat monthly fee. 

Kimp Tip: Avoid relying on stock images and generic design elements for your branding. While these look amazing for a quick social media post, your branding (e.g. logos, custom characters, custom branded post templates) needs to reflect your unique personality. Even if you do use them, ensure they are incorporated seamlessly into your branding and visual identity. 

Did you know that your Kimp subscription includes having licensed stock photos and stock videos sourced for you? Just provide your brief, and  your team will find the imagery to best suit it. We can help you tweak them to suit your branding needs too. Sign up for a free trial to see it all in action!

6) Letting the brand identity become stale 

Rebranding is not an exercise for branding fails alone. When you evolve as a business, your products, services, and even your target audience evolve with it. So, it only makes sense that you give your brand a quick refresh whenever your business takes a new turn. 

Neglecting to do this can make your brand identity irrelevant and disjointed with your current values. 

If you have invested in good branding right from the beginning, all you need will be a few updates, and you will be ready.

Avoid bad branding & get your branding right with Kimp 

We hope this blog reinforced how complicated and significant the process of branding design is. Involving a professional team with the experience, tools, and expertise to get it right the first time can be a lifesaver for all businesses.

Your branding closely determines the success of your business, and you must not take any chances with it. 

So save yourself a ton of time and trouble and get unlimited graphic and/or video design from a team of expert designers at a flat monthly fee. Kimp Graphics and Kimp Video teams can help you build a strong brand and branding designs that work across all mediums and channels, connecting with the audience that you want it to.

Sign up for the free trial today!