The 10 biggest Brand Identity Mistakes

The Power of brand Image
Whilst brands do not live or die by the success of their brand identity, a well designed image is a valuable asset for every business. An effective brand identity will provide cues to your market about your business, what it does, what it stands for and it’s competitive position in the market. Many organisations underestimate the importance of brand identity, choosing to invest their time and money in other aspects of their business. By failing to make informed and conscious decisions about the brand image they present to their market, these businesses inadvertently send mixed and generally negative messages.

A Poorly Designed Brand Identity is a cost to business

Never underestimate the opportunity cost of going to market with a poorly designed brand identity

01. Putting the Horse Before the Cart
Few organisations invest the time in developing their brand definition before embarking on the design of their brand identity. The first step of any brand identity project must be to gain clarity around your brand’s personality and its go-to-market proposition.

02. Paying Peanuts and Wondering why you’re Getting Monkeys
Not all businesses can afford the cost of a top shelf brand consultant to design their identity. But not all good consultants are expensive, and not all expensive consultants are good. Use your business network to gain recommendations and use the internet to research brand agencies whose work is both smart and aesthetic. Brand identity projects that start with “I know a guy who owes me a favour…” always end in disaster.

03. Failing to Invest in your Brand’s Identity
The cost of implementing your brand identity in signage, on your web site, uniforms, brochures, retail fit-out, advertising, and all the rest typically overshadows the cost of getting your brand identity design right in the first place. The opportunity cost to your business of going to market with a brand identity that is communicating the wrong messages to your market is even greater. Getting your brand proposition and identity right from the beginning is the greatest investment you can make in the marketing of your business.

04. Navel Gazing
With an internal focus, most businesses assume that their customers know far more about their products and services than they actually do. Your brand identity should provide a customer-based perspective on how you communicate what you do to market.

05. “I Know what I Like”
When it comes to brand identity – everyone has an opinion. The reality is though, that all opinions are not born equal. It is important to remember that the only goal of a brand identity is to communicate the right messages to the right people. Fortunately if you’ve chosen a skilled and experienced brand designer they will understand the visual cues required to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, your personal opinions are of little value.

06. Imitation is the Most Sincere form of Flattery
With all aspects of branding, differentiation is vital. Every business needs to provide its customers with a compelling reason to choose its products or services over those of the competition. Embarking on a brand identity project with the desire to look like the market leader is a strategy that needs to be very carefully considered.

07. “We Can’t Change the Logo
There are thousands of reasons why a business can’t change its brand identity – a few of them are even valid. However, for most businesses this response is reflexive, emotional and rarely based on strategic thought. It is impossible to reposition a business in the marketplace without changing it’s brand identity. Sometimes you just need to break some eggs to bake a better cake.

08. It has to be Blue
Colour is a powerful cultural communicator. The colours you choose to represent you business brand, it’s products and services evoke an emotional response, position your brand relative to the market leaders you compete with and communicate a myriad of cues to your customers from quality to price, from professionalism to environmental credentials. You must ensure your brand identity’s colours are well considered and carefully selected.

09. Not just a Pretty Logo
Your brand identity consists of many layers well beyond the brand mark itself. Every visual expression of your brand through it’s packaging, brochures, web site, staff uniforms, even your Twitter page make up your brand identity and they all need to look the same. Your brand identity will consist of a combination of elements including typefaces, colours, patterns, textures, photos, illustrations, all selected to say the right things about your brand to your market.

10. My Work here is Done
Once you have developed a well designed visual identity for your brand, give yourself a clap on the back… and then get down to the real work. Your brand is the sum of a million gestures – large and small – carried out every day by you and your organisation. Looking the part is a critical starting-point, but bringing your brand proposition to life in everything you do and say will play a powerful role in achieving the goals you have for your business.

Here’s an example of a brand identity project we did for Gelati Sky.
From strategic brand definition and brand personality to the design of differentiated visual language that looks as delicious as the gelato tastes, the Gelati Sky brand identity is a great example of a client and project that ticks all the boxes. As Paul Scalisi (owner and Gelato Chef) relayed to us: “Whenever we meet with a new stockist, we open the box, they see the product and say ‘Wow!'”. Like it says on the pack: ‘Gelati Sky, it’s what dreams taste like’.

Gelati Sky brand identity

If you’d like to ensure your new brand identity has the necessary consideration to avoid these pitfalls, give us a buzz – we’ll be only too happy to share our experience and expertise with you.

David Ansett


  1. Reg, great question – I should have posted a good example as well as the ordinary ones. I’ll get onto that. In the mean-time, have a look at the Gelati Sky brand identity and packaging we have in ‘Our Projects’ section of the web site – from the menu at the top of this page.

  2. Everyday there seems to be more and more brands out in the marketplace. The majority of them badly designed. Do you think that the decision-makers in these organisations are responsible for this lack of awareness of the power of the brand? Will they ever become educated?

  3. Sarah, You’re right about the ever increasing number of businesses and other organisations who are launching their presence into the market. I’m not sure that there has been much of a proportional increase in the percentage who are doing it well. As a tool for business success, I’m remain constantly surprised by how few businesses take advantage of the opportunity to brand themselves better than their competition. I’m not sure if the reason is ignorance, apathy, a belief that ‘they know what looks good’, or most likely a combination of the above.

  4. Dave, that Pocatello logo always brings a smile to my face.

    This is a terrific articulation of how and why we need to get it right. I find the trickiest step is often that described by you in point 5 – this is where educating customers is key and emotions can run high. To mitigate this, my approach is to discuss this part of the journey at the beginning and not wait until they have creative in front of them. Perhaps I’ll try just quoting you next time…..”Unfortunately, your personal opinions are of little value.” : ) Love it!

  5. Elissa, thanks for the feedback. Client opinion will always show-up at some stage as ID projects tend to be highly charged with emotion. We’ve found the more thorough the strategic thinking component at the front end, the closer the conversation is to achieving the strategic objectives rather than personal opinions.

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