Starting up in business is a big move for anybody. There are so many considerations, mostly finance related. One thing that small businesses and startups seem to neglect most often is their branding. Here are five brand mistakes that plenty of new businesses make.

1. Forgetting to Research

Just like a window fitter has to measure, draw diagrams and size up the job, you must must must remember to do your research. Look at your competitors, look at other successful businesses in the same area as your own, check what's working, check what's not. Without a solid base of research you will find yourself making snap decisions without rationale behind them. Decision making is a key skill when starting up a business; make sure you have something to base them on.

2. Not Defining Beliefs and Goals

Researching and analysing your competitors (if done correctly) should give you a good idea of where and how you want to pitch your business. Are you standing for green recycled energy? Are you proud to be using UK only suppliers? Whatever it is that you're going to do, you need to set it out as early possible. Having business beliefs and goals will focus your branding and marketing efforts, costing you less in the long run.

3. "Branding" on the Cheap

Professional branding is not a cheap process, but it's also something you shouldn't skimp on. If you look at the most successful businesses in the world, you'll see that they have professional branding, look great across a variety of media and manage to stick closely to their beliefs and goals. Working with a professional branding and design agency will benefit you in the long run. You need to look at branding and design as an investment for the future, rather than an inconvenient expense. Good branding will make you more money than it cost you.

4. Handling "Branding" Yourself

Further to branding on the cheap, unless you're in the business, you're not going to know how to do it. It's no good cobbling together a "logo" in Photoshop. A logo itself does not make a brand. A brand is everything that your company encompasses, brought to life through a variety of design elements, brand touch points and media. Just like you wouldn't build your own house (unless you're a builder) then you shouldn't handle branding your own company. Leave it to the professionals.

5. Designing For You, Instead of Your Customers

When you do end up working with a design or branding agency, listen to them. Don't think "I know best, I like this, so I'll choose this." You have to listen to the reasoning. What's more important is "Will my clients/customer base like this?" Asking better questions is vital. Don't discard suggestions because of personal taste. Keep an open mind, and let the agency you've hired do their job.

Article by Tony Hardy of Canny Creative.

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