6 Most Common Brand Identity Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Author: Stella Mares Sarmiento

Stella Mares Sarmiento

Stella Mares Sarmiento

6 min. read

Updated May 10, 2024

Brand identity is the visual component of a company’s character. This includes logos, typography, colors, website design, and other assets. Each brand identity element is a brick to build the foundation of a brand.

Nike is an athletic wear brand with one of the best brand identity examples today. It’s not uncommon to be familiar with its Just Do It slogan and its recognizable Swoosh logo design. The elements in its brand identity reinforce its unique qualities and let it stay on top of the sportswear market. 

It is easy to confuse how brand identity and image differ. When comparing brand identity versus brand image, it helps to see identity as the way you present your brand to the market and influence consumers to see you. On the other hand, brand image is how the consumers perceive you. 

What mistakes do companies make with brand identity?

There are a couple of missteps that you can avoid to establish a better brand faster. This article will tackle some of the most common oversights and show you how you can avoid them. Discover how you can minimize the risk of branding slips below.

1. Not having a brand purpose

Businesses need depth. This is crucial today as consumers look for brands that have more significant goals aside from making money. A study by Zeno Group found that consumers were more inclined to support a brand with a clear purpose by four to six times compared to businesses who don’t.

Brand purpose is about defining what motivates your company to exist and what problems you are trying to solve. It lets you become more intentional and be more relatable to the audience. Launching a brand without a purpose may have you miss out on opportunities to engage your consumers further.

There are a couple of questions that you can ask yourself to find your purpose. Here are some of the questions.

  • What change do you want to make? 
  • What makes you unique? 
  • Why should you be trusted?

You can use the questions above as a starting point to start defining the “whys” in your business.

2. Being inconsistent

Making sure that your brand is recognizable also enables you to cement your brand and drive authenticity. It gives consumers a sign that you care about how they perceive your brand.

Failing to present your business the same way will negatively affect your brand. You don’t want this to happen for the brand identity that you’ve worked so hard for. It may be more challenging for your consumers to verify if your brand is you. 

An example of brand consistency in big brands is Gap’s 2010 logo. The new logo was kept for only seven days and earned the audience’s ire as it was completely different and not aligned with the brand’s identity. Some publications even called the project a disaster because of the backlash it received. Yikes.

Here's the different Gap logos and why they switched back

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3. Forgetting about style guideline

One factor that helps drive inconsistency is the lack of a style guideline. It is a document that stands as a rulebook on what design elements comprise your identity.

Having a guide on your brand’s identity is a handy tool. It helps you make sure that the designer you are working with, whether in-house or freelance, will know what design elements are on-brand and which ones aren’t.

Without this, you may have a hard time finding the right design or struggle with revisions. For starters, you can create a brand style guideline by having the following.

  • Logo and design variations
  • Typography
  • Colors (RGB and CMYK)
  • Social media assets
  • Document letterheads

4. Not checking for originality

Don’t be a copycat. You want to make sure that your logo design and other brand assets do not resemble other brands. It is normal to take inspiration from others, but this doesn’t mean that you can make a brand identity that looks exactly like another company.

Your brand may suffer as it may confuse the audience. Plus, it may put you at risk for trademark and copyright infringement.

One way you can avoid this is by researching. You can reverse search an image using Google. To do this, you must go to Google Images, and in the search bar, you will see a camera icon. Press the icon, and you will have the option to use either a URL of your logo or upload the file directly. Start browning the results to see if there is an identical version of your logo out there. 

Alternatively, you can go to business directory websites and look at the brands in your industry. It also helps to check your direct and local competitors for extra measure. 

In the event that you see a similar design, you want to make adjustments to your brand identity to appear more original.

5. Not having a target audience

As rough as it may be to hear this, not everyone will pay attention to you. That’s why there is no point in trying to please everyone. A brand must identify the audience they want and change how they communicate and present themselves to appeal to their target. 

For example, if your business is focused on Baby Boomers, your brand identity must consist of elements they like. You want to keep the design simple and easy to read. Otherwise, they may feel alienated and choose not to learn more about your brand.

Begin narrowing down your audience by evaluating their demographics such as age, gender, and education level. Afterward, you can create a buyer persona which is a semi-fictional representation of them. This will help you find common ground you share and discover how you can get your message across.

Conducting market research also allows you to spot the audience’s needs, demands, and possible changes. It shines a light on their interests, likes, and dislikes. You also have the option to conduct surveys to get more salient answers. This is great for brands that are having a hard time finding a particular piece of data.

When done right, you can use this to make your audience pay more attention to you.

6. Sticking with a lousy logo 

First impressions last. Your business logo is the face of your brand. That’s why you want to make sure that it is as memorable and eye-catching as it can be. 

It isn’t all just for looks, too. Logos also represent your traits and business goals. Audiences use your logo to get information as to what your brand offers or specializes in. 

Brands often struggle to find a design that excels in both form and function. Small businesses often sacrifice their design so as not to go over budget. They either have a design that is too complicated and oversaturated. 

Settling for a poor design may make you appear unprofessional and make it seem that you don’t care about how your customers see you. These issues may lead to the dampening of your brand’s impact and make your logo hard to remember.

When designing your brand mark, be it with a logo maker or graphics software, it is best to keep the design simple. You want to balance the design elements and veer away from detailed illustrations. However, if you have the budget, you can work with freelance graphic designers or design firms for a more comprehensive approach. 

Don’t worry about perfection

No one gets it right the first time. Even the most prominent brands still have their fair share of blunders. But it helps to be informed on possible issues that may arise in your brand’s life cycle. 

Knowing how and what issues to avoid for your brand is essential in creating a distinct and profitable business. It also helps you save time and money solving avoidable problems. This list of common branding mistakes can stand as a guide for you to avoid making the same mistakes. 

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Content Author: Stella Mares Sarmiento

Stella is a content writer for DesignCrowd and BrandCrowd. She writes about branding, tech, eCommerce, design, and everything in between.