Building a new business brand doesn’t happen overnight. Frequently, businesses roll out one phase of a rebrand at a time, usually starting with a new logo, then to business cards, a website, and maybe adding new stationery and email signatures (as an afterthought).
Like any morning routine or workout regimen, inconsistency can set our success and progress back days, weeks, or even months—and we can quickly feel lack of direction and inspiration. The same can be said for a business’s branding when we don’t know what to expect.
Here are 3 common branding mistakes to consider when you are trying to build a strong company identity.
1. Know Thy Logo
When marketing sends you the company logo for your use on a presentation or paper, it should be accompanied by a style guide. It won’t be uncommon to see a page that shows the correct way to use the logo.
How do you know if your logo is used improperly?
- Is your logo pixelated?
- Did you ever have to resize the logo manually? (THIS IS A BIG ONE! If you ever had to resize multiple times, you should have branding take a look at your document or ask them for the size you need.)
- Are you using the most recent iteration of the logo? Using the branding guide (as seen below) will be an indicator.
Throughout my 8-year career with Wells Fargo Securities, we experienced multiple branding updates. Sometimes the tweaks are very minute, only a gradient was added or a color tweaked.
Other branding considerations when using the logo:
- Have you incorporated it into your e-signature? Does corporate permit that? Is your image of the highest quality?
- Does your logo have breathing room on the page or is it stuffed into a corner or surrounded by text?
- Is your logo on an image when it should only be surrounded by white space?
2. Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, & Excel
The most common programs for creating documents can also be the most tricky to brand if you don’t know your way around keyboard shortcuts and formatting tools.
Microsoft may have once been essential back in the 1990s and 2000s, but unless it’s an active part of your life, it may seem difficult to navigate, especially for Gen Z.
Common branding mistakes include:
- Using spaces instead of tabs for lists. This means manually counting out the number of times you hit the space bar but each bullet.
- Using periods instead of leader dots in a table of contents.
- Inserting a double space after each paragraph instead of setting establishing paragraph spacing—this is definitely a Boomer and Gen X habit.
- Using Microsoft’s default color palette instead of your brand colors for charts. The program’s default red is most likely not the company’s approved red.
- Using one of Microsoft’s PowerPoint templates instead of using one branded specifically for your company. When teams use different templates it creates inconsistency in how the brand is applied. These templates should be coming from your marketing team.
- Not changing the font from the default Minion Pro to your company’s font. Keep in mind as well that serif fonts work best for print applications.
3. Marketing Sins
Corporate branding and the marketing departments will cringe (and internally fume) if you:
- Create a flyer using Microsoft Word instead of tapping them or an approved designer for support—DIY design is never the way.
- Use clearly fake stock photography or clipart in a PowerPoint presentation. I know it’s 2022 but this still happens!
- Use non-branded colors in email signatures and documents.
- Don’t apply any type of formatting to documents clients and investors will see.
- Grab images off of Google instead of paying for them on iStockphoto.com.
But… I don’t have a marketing department…
I get it. You’re running your business and not too worried about pretty pictures and colors. But graphic design is so much more than that. It is meant to inspire AND inform.
When you can unite your materials through your brand you stand out among your competitors as established, reliable, and a leader in the industry. And if you are a small business, you look bigger than you are. Imagine their faces when they discover your business is a one-woman/one-man show!
Here are a few things you can do to revitalize your everyday work documents:
- Hire a graphic designer on a need basis or on a retainer to glance over your work, format, or put the entire project together.
- Always use the very first version/original template file so your documents have that crisp, factory reset feel.
- Use stock photography for your images. Unsplash.com or pexels.com are good for projects on a budget, but be mindful that these free images are all over the internet. Consider using a pay-per-use site such as iStockphoto.com.
- Take advantage of sites like creativemarket.com or elements.envato.com that have a library of templates.
I think I need help…
You’ve come to the right place. We can look over your documents together and see how we can highlight your brand and make your templates easier for you to use. It will be a win-win for both you and your clients.
OmniBiz before and after PDF handout redesign by Harford Designs.