Your brand is your identity, and it's critical to avoid the all-too-common mistakes that have ruined businesses in the past.
While most businesses know that it's important to have a brand, too many entrepreneurs underestimate the amount of effort it takes to build a great one. You can't just throw a logo together and hope that it makes an impression -- you need to spend weeks, if not months, researching your demographics and competition and working closely with professionals who have experience in branding and design.
These seven mistakes are some of the most common I've seen, and you need to do everything you can to avoid them:
1. Misunderstanding what constitutes a "brand." It's more than just a logo and a tagline. Your branding is your identity as a company, including an image, a voice and a style.
2. Putting your branding as a low priority. Focusing on building an audience before you build a brand is like trying to find a job before you have a resume. You won't get very far. Branding is your foundation, so prioritize it!
3. Failing to research your competitors. It's important to understand what others before you have done. You can get inspired, but more importantly, you can figure out how to make your brand stand out.
4. Failing to understand your audience. Imagine your target demographic as a single person, and your brand as a single person. What type of person does your target demographic respect and identify with? Incorporate that personality into your brand.
5. Keeping your brand inconsistent. Consistency is everything; you can't half-ass your branding strategy. Consistency is what builds familiarity and, eventually, loyalty.
6. Treating your brand as a stagnant monument. A brand isn't something you build once and never have to worry about again. You need to constantly revise and refine it, adapting it to changes in your marketing environment.
7. Skimping on the budget. Don't pay $50 for an assembly-line style brand. Go the extra mile by paying a professional to help you brand. Trust me, it's worth the money.
Jose Vasquez is a serial entrepreneur and tech enthusiast dedicated to helping startup technology companies get the direction and momentum they need to succeed. As the founder of Build. Brand. Blast., Jose has established a collective resource for tech entrepreneurs to consult when brainstorming, creating, launching, or expanding a new business. Jose is also the founder and CEO of Quez Media Marketing, a marketing firm that combines technology and creativity to help new and growing companies get the results they need.
Jose graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.