5 Most Common Branding Mistakes Most Start-Ups Make

With our Social Media feed being constantly dominated by glamorous and picture perfect visuals. With many companies showcasing impeccable design all the time. It is impossible not to think about branding as the go to element of a startup. But, despite all the effort and investment so many entrepreneurs put into their brand identities, I often notice some common branding mistakes that can set them back. 

We have to understand that developing a solid and trusted brand doesn’t have to be very complicated.

Therefore to avoid such branding mistakes all forms of communications, not just visual are key in reinforcing and building trust. This will contribute in making your brand stay relevant to your customers.

5 most common branding mistakes startups make and how you can avoid them

Here is a list of common branding mistakes that I have seen small businesses make. And tips on how to prevent them in your own branding journey.

Mistake #1: Not defining a Solid Brand Strategy 

How many of us buy a product or a service because we like the logo of the company? – Well none!

But still many start-ups walk into building their business with a mood board of what they want to look like, instead of what they want their brand to communicate.

Remember, the best brands haven’t just unfolded themselves out of thin air. It’s about the focussing on the big picture and aligning your company’s vision with your customers’ experience is the main goal of a brand strategy.

Then to select all of the design elements, from the logo to the colours, and font that will align with your company’s mission and goals. This will help to attract the target audience, and to set you apart from the competition. 

So rather than spending too much time focussing about your dream design, it’s important to use your energy to do some actual business exercises. When I work with clients on brand strategy workshops, we go through branding worksheets which may not look and sound very exciting.

And yes, working through these worksheets and deep diving to understand your business is a lot harder, and maybe less exciting and fun, then thinking about your brands look and colours and fonts. But there is no doubt that following this route will definitely be more valuable to your brand, and avoid the future of your business. 

Mistake #2: Investing Too Much on Branding

Another common branding mistake most of the small business or start-ups make is sooner than later in their business journey start worrying about their budget for branding. Well is it really worth trying to wheedle up the $$$k required to work with your dream agency? 

Let me relieve you of that decision and save you the $$$K and say it’s almost certainly not. What so many of us start-ups fail to understand while making these initial investment is how often start-ups in their initial phase will pivot. They’re literally trying to figure out their product-market journey.

Building your brand identity is all about connecting your brand to your business strategy. You don’t want to invest a lot into your brand identity until you feel secure in that strategy. Lot of start-ups rush in to make that investment too quickly to realise they now need to rebrand as the company’s’ direction has changed.

But saying that you also do not want to try and create a cheap brand identity. There is no doubt and absolute truth in the saying “you get what you pay for in the design world”. So high probability your visual elements may not look as professional as you’d like them to. So my suggestion would be for startups to consider simple branding that allows you a lot of flexibility as your brand and business evolves. Think of this like a black dress: it’s nothing revolutionary, but it also looks timeless and sleek. 

For example: To avoid these branding mistakes instead of trying to create an image-based logo why not make a Wordmark. Use a font generator or a font pairer to guide you in the right direction. Use a colour-palette generator to choose a few simple colours based on the feeling you want to evoke. And CANVA a graphic design platform, to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content. Customise these elements with your Wordmark and colours to make them yours. This sort of approach will give you a good start and fairly decent branding, on a budget as you build your business.

Mistake #3: Focusing on decorative aspect than its functionality

When creating your own brand identity and branding, it is easier to get dragged into the aesthetics and looks. The issue is when start-ups solely select design and visual elements based on their gorgeous appearance. They loose out on considering their usability and functionality.

The number of times I’ve seen brands design swanky logos that are impossible to translate when scaled down to fit in a social media icon, or choose a typeface that looks stylish but is challenging for users to actually read, or pick a website design that looks visually fantastic but is difficult to navigate. 

So it’s important that you think about your users at every step of the way and stop yourself from making this branding mistake. Use tools like adobe accessibility chart to check whether the colour palettes have enough contrast for it be readable. Test your logo or Wordmark in various sizes to make sure it works on different platforms. Ask a friend to navigate through your website and check if it is user friendly and can get them to where you would want them to go

Any time you’re making a brand decision, just take a step back and ensure it supports your users rather than getting in the way of them engaging with you entirely.

Mistake #4: Not differentiating your brand

Every day we are bombarded with thousands of marketing emails and ads. But in order for your message to cut through the crowd and connect with your audience it must not only look good, but also be unique.

If your customer / audience cannot see the difference and the benefit in your offering, why will they choose you? They are bound to just shop around and probably opt for the cheapest option.

The key is to stand out amongst your competitors in order to communicate your value. Your product or service may not be completely different but the way you communicate and manipulate your audiences perception will ultimately be the differentiator.

But for that you need to research your competitors, look for points of differentiation. This will help you to define who you are, who your customers are and how to connect with them.

You do not have to be everything for everyone. Find your purpose and build on that.

Once you have a clear purpose and vision in place, then you can create visual and verbal messages. Which will help you stand out and communicate your value.

Mistake #5: Not connecting with your right audience

I cannot emphasise on how important it is to connect with the right audience.

It’s not about just having great design elements, but if the same do not resonate with your audience your brand is going to fall short. So when you start your branding journey, it is key to understand and know who your target audience is


  • Where they are
  • What they do
  • How old they are
  • What their income is
  • What are their requirements
  • What do they like

People do not just buy a product or a service they want to feel connected with the brand. They buy stories and transformation.

Whether you’re a startup or an enterprise, you’ll find that personalisation and connection with your audience is the key.

Therefore to avoid these common branding mistakes one of the crucial steps is to create customer avatar. Again emphasis being on brand strategy. It is fundamental to your business development.

Check out some more resources on BRANDING!

Why is BRAND STRATEGY so important?





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *