Running a marketing agency focused on small business means each day brings a mix of excitement, fulfillment and, sometimes, head-slapping infuriation.
Lots of small businesses can’t—or don’t—have a dedicated marketing professional, which is understandable. However, doing things that actively destroy or deteriorate your brand is not.
Here are 12 things to avoid:
1. Not having a logo.
Do you think I’m making this one up? I’m not. I regularly run into businesses that have never committed to a logo. Last year I had a client who has been in business for 40 years, and its biggest problem is that it had no market recognition. For 40 years the client squandered the opportunity to build an identity because it never wanted to pay for a logo.
2. Changing your logo too much.
Changing your logo every so many years is just as bad as having no logo. Yes, it’s OK to refresh your logo if it’s so 1980s you can’t stand it, but frequent changes mean you never earn recognizable status.
3. Not having any brand imaging.
You should have a company font and a standard layout for important documents and publications. Then you should hold all of your employees to these standards. It will prevent one of your “artistic” employees from going Comic Sans crazy.
4. Lacking a corporate voice.
It’s an absolute must to have a company directive that outlines your company’s personality. Your employees need to grasp that personality and speak with that voice whenever they interact with customers.
5. Not providing customer service training.
Once you figure out No. 4, you must implement a training program so all employees understand who your company is and what its standards are. Don’t direct this solely at your customer service representatives. Each of your employees is in sales; no one gets a pass from this training.
6. Not having a crisis plan.
I see this again and again, and not only from small businesses. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, PR disasters can occur. Just because you’ve never had one doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Who will respond to your PR disaster? What will the approach be? Will you call in an outside agency to help?
7. Lacking a good email signature.
Not listing your contact information with your logo is a mistake. Having every phone number and address you’ve ever owned is worse. Use a small, stylish logo and your pertinent information in your signature so people can quickly connect with you. Don’t make it a chore for people to find what they’re looking for.
8. Neglecting signage.
Unless you own a hair club for men or some other business that requires a discreet location, your signage needs to attract eyes. Once attracted, those eyes should not see worn and tired signage that says, “We’re not doing so well,” or “We just don’t care anymore.” People want to do business with successful people-success is contagious.
9. Having a tired website.
It is not difficult to convince a small business that a website is absolutely necessary, but your commitment to an online presence has to go much further than that. Your website needs to be a living, breathing, updated part of your branding. Make your website part of your regular branding reviews to ensure it doesn’t have stale or missing information.
10. Not having a social media voice.
Social media is a time suck if you don’t have a clear plan. If you are not the voice of your company on social media, someone else will be. Just because you don’t like Facebook doesn’t mean you can avoid it.
[FREE GUIDE: 3 helpful tips for your crisis comms prep]
11. Having no idea what your customers think.
When was the last time you asked how current customers see your brand? If the answer is “never” or “a really long time ago,” you’re letting a gold mine of information go to waste. Use online surveys, or even pick up the phone to ask your customers what you’re doing right or wrong.
12. Lacking a marketing plan.
If you’ve taken the trouble to develop a consistent plan for both the long and short term, it is unlikely that you’ve missed No. 1-11. The devil is in the details, and without a plan, many of them will drop by the wayside.
Of course this list could be much longer. Each week brings a new guffaw made by even the biggest brand, but if you tackle each of these (starting with No. 12) it will go a long way to protect your brand.
What is the biggest brand-damning move you’ve witnessed?
This article is republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most.