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When it comes to branding your service-based business, there are a few mistakes you might not even know you’re making. In today’s post, we’re going to talk about the branding mistakes you might be making and how to fix them!

Why do you need branding for your service-based business?

Branding is the process of identifying and developing a solid perception of a business. Elements like your color palette and intangible assets like your messaging work together to form an experience called a brand.

When your brand is created with strategy and intention, you build a reputation in your industry. As such, you start attracting dream clients who are perfect fits for your services.

But how do you know that your branding lacks strategy and needs to be refined? Let’s unpack it below.

Woman pinning color palette to cork board (branding mistakes for service providers blog post)

Are you making these branding mistakes in your small business?

From copying other service providers to following trends instead of strategy, I’ll be covering the most common mistakes small business owners make in their branding.

As a fellow creative entrepreneur, I know what it’s like to want the very best for your business. That’s why I’m here to show you how to fix these mistakes once and for all — so that you can finally show up online in a way that is strategic and authentic to who you are.

Branding without a strategy

When you go into branding without a strategy, you haven’t done the research to best position your brand among similar service providers. With a brand strategy, you’ll clearly identify your target audience, messaging, brand voice. Ultimately, you create a plan for how to achieve your biggest goals.

Why do you need a brand strategy before diving into creation? Because strategy gets to “the why” of what your business and brand represents. Without a brand strategy, you’re left guessing about what will appeal to your dream clients.

What to consider when you are preparing your brand strategy:

  • Brand positioning among competitors
  • Target audience profile
  • Messaging and tone of voice
  • Brand personality

Not sure how to get started with creating a strategic plan for your brand? Let’s work together!

How to fix this branding mistake: get clear on your brand strategy before any creation.

Comparing your brand to others

One of the most pervasive branding mistakes service providers make is looking too closely at the competition.

When you compare yourself to others in your industry, it’s easy to assume that they are doing everything right (but you’re not). The test results have come in and THAT was a lie!

Comparison is the thief of joy. Plus, it’s also not based on logic. You never know if that other service provider’s brand is actually working for them. Sure, they may have thousands of followers but how many of those are actual paying clients?

Strategies to stop comparing yourself to others:

  • Reduce distractions while you work
  • Mute accounts that make you feel “less than”
  • Do a SWOT analysis of your business – with an emphasis on your strengths!

How to fix this branding mistake: stay in your lane and focus on YOUR business primarily.

DIYing your branding without experience

Let’s be honest, we’re all a bit guilty of trying to do everything ourselves. If you are a solo business owner, especially, there’s a high chance that you’re “wearing all the hats.” Thus includes everything from social media to client work to admin tasks. Talk about exhausting!

When you don’t have experience with design, it can be difficult to create an objective stance on your brand. Choosing to DIY your branding is tricky, even with templates or design tools like Canva. Not everyone is a designer, and that’s okay!

When you’re doing your branding by yourself, you may have trouble seeing areas for improvement. Furthermore, you may end up designing for your own preferences – not your ideal clients. Spoiler alert: you are not your ideal client.

Questions to ask before DIYing your branding:

  • Do you feel confident with designing in general?
  • Can you take an objective view on your business?
  • How much FREE TIME do you have to do it yourself?

Reminder: you don’t have to DIY if you don’t want to. Let’s work together!

How to fix this branding mistake: work with a brand strategist or designer.

Chasing trends over brand strategy

Trends might be the popular route on TikTok, but chasing what’s “trendy” is not always the best idea from a branding perspective. Chasing trends is a short-term strategy. Why? Because trends change and fade. Will your trendy branding still be relevant in a couple of years? Or will it be outdated and overused?

Instead of focusing on trends, revisit your brand strategy. Who is your target audience? Would your ideal client feel connected to the trend? Or are you simply choosing ideas because you’ve seen them used by someone else?

Here’s a great example. A few years ago, I designed websites for many travel bloggers. A common trend was having a ”travel destination map” on their website. Even if the map contained little information and provided a poor user experience.

How to spot popular branding trends:

  • Many other business owners in your niche are using the style
  • The only reason you want an element is because That Famous Instagrammer has it
  • You keep noticing the same style being promoted on websites like Creative Market

How to fix this branding mistake: focus on long-term gains instead of short-term success.

Showing “too much” brand personality

Contrary to popular belief, there is such thing as “too much personality”! When you have too many competing elements in your branding, you risk drawing attention away from your services.

For example: you may have a bright bubblegum personality in real life, but using too many highlighter-bright colors in your branding can be difficult to read and may cause your visitors to click away. It’s important to strike a healthy balance between style and function.

How to show brand personality without overwhelming your clients:

  • Create a color palette that has a combination of neutrals and accent colors
  • Add a pop of personality with handwritten fonts or playful illustrations
  • Keep accessibility in mind to make your branding available to all

How to fix this branding mistake: keep loud branding elements to a minimum or pair them purposely.

Cutting corners to save money

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to keep your budget within reason. After all, it’s important for a small business owner to stay profitable by keeping your expenses low! But that doesn’t mean taking the cheapest route possible, especially for something as important as your branding.

For many service providers like yourself, your brand is the first impression potential clients have of your business. Given the fact that it only takes 50 milliseconds for potential clients to judge the visual appeal of your brand, it’s important to prioritize your branding.

That means working with a brand strategist who truly understands how to get you to your goals! The right service provider will have payment plan options for you.

You’ve found the right branding expert for your business when you…

  • Feel aligned with their past work or portfolio pieces
  • Know, like, and trust them on a personal level
  • Aspire to have a similar business to their clients

Looking for a brand strategist who knows how to create a standout service-based business? Let’s work together!

How to fix this branding mistake: think about branding as an investment for your business.

Branding to your preferences only

Here’s the thing: you are not your ideal client. Repeat after me: you are not your ideal client. Branding for your personal preference alone ignores the fact that you’re serving clients. You need to consider how your ideal clients would experience your brand and try to be as objective as possible.

When creating designs for my clients, I focus on their ideal clients. This way, we end up with a final product that appeals to their potential customers. After all, that’s who is going to be booking their services!

While it’s totally okay to have opinions and likes/dislikes, try to keep in mind that your lens might err more on the side of ‘perfectionism’ than the opinion of your ideal clients. Instead of agonizing over tiny details, focus on the big picture and what best aligns with your clients’ expectations.

Tips for staying objective in your branding:

  • Try to quiet the “inner critic” that wants to judge yourself with a microscope
  • Keep your ideal clients in mind when you are creating your brand
  • Let your clients tell you how they feel about your brand!

How to fix: always create with your ideal client in mind.

Forgetting about accessibility

Building an accessible brand for your small business means creating designs that are inclusive to all potential clients, including people with disabilities. According to Census Bureau data, nearly 30% of people in the United States and about one in 6 worldwide have a disability (Source: University of Michigan).

When you create a brand with accessibility in mind, you allow for everyone to have a positive experience with your business. As a service provider myself, I am always striving to improve my processes when it comes to creating accessible designs for my clients. This means choosing colors that are easy to engage with, using clear calls to action, and using font sizes that are simple to read.

Guidelines for accessible branding:

  • Don’t use too many different fonts on one page
  • Write using short sentences and paragraphs
  • Use dark foreground text on a light background (and vice versa)

How to fix this branding mistake: optimize your brand assets for accessibility.

Changing your mind constantly

When you have too many options and keep changing your mind constantly, your dream clients don’t have enough time to associate you with a consistent brand. Shiny object syndrome is what happens when you get distracted by “the shiny new thing” and change your mind on a whim.

Too many variations can create confusion for your dream clients. As Donald Miller says, “When you confuse, you lose.” This is why it’s vital to create brand guidelines to hold yourself accountable for your choices.

Brand guidelines are defined standards that indicate how your brand should be conveyed. When you have a solid brand guidelines document, your branding stays consistent and relevant to your business goals.

What to include in your brand guidelines:

  • Your color palette and their hex codes (for example: #FFF345)
  • The fonts you are using and how to use them for best results
  • A mood board to show your overall vision

How to fix: create a dedicated Brand Guidelines document for your business.

Not having a brand at all

The final branding mistake? Not having a brand at all. If you’re changing your color palette like your mood and not sticking to clear brand guidelines, it’s time to consider working with a brand strategist!

It’s never too late to start putting in the foundations for your business. Even if you’ve been in business for years, you can still refine your branding, messaging, and strategy to move you closer to your goals.

Let’s create a brand strategy and brand identity that feels authentic to who you are.

How to fix this branding mistake: take the leap and invest in branding for your small business!

The good thing about making branding mistakes? You can fix ’em!

When you work with a brand strategist like me, you can begin to understand how your branding works to help achieve your business goals.

Let’s work together to bring your brand strategy to life!

When it comes to creating a consistent brand, you’re not sure which way to go. It’s time to stand out from the crowd and show off your uniqueness. With a solid brand strategy, we’ll expertly craft an authentic and magnetic brand identity that feels like you.

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