Are you ready to expand your brand? Don’t make these 4 critical mistakes

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So you want to expand your business. This can be a very good thing – it means you are fine. But first determine why you want to grow. It could be to make a higher profit, take the opportunity to diversify your business, expand as a prelude to selling your business, or it could be something else.

Make sure you know why you want to expand, make sure you have the funds to expand—then avoid these four critical mistakes:

1. Failure to create and adhere to brand guidelines

If your brand isn’t easy to understand and you have inconsistent branding, you can confuse consumers. And with confusion comes a breakup with a potential consumer.

Branding relates to the clothing worn or sold within your business, how your business moves and how it speaks. Branding shows your company’s vibe (e.g., cheerful, energetic, thoughtful), your company’s style (e.g., calm, dignified, silly, or funny), and your company’s identity (what your brand represents).

Brand guidelines determine how your brand lives in the world. Guidelines can include color schemes, writing styles, use of the logo, visuals, and images. They are designed to protect and preserve the uniqueness, integrity and intellectual (and intrinsic) value of your brand and include how those elements are used, where they are used and what kind of feelings it evokes in the minds of your customers.

The more disjointed your branding is, seen in incongruous contexts, or viewed as pejorative or confusing, the more difficult it becomes for a consumer to relate to what your brand offers. If you don’t have the ability to tell your existing brand story in a consistent and compelling way, it would be even harder to make a case for why your brand is expanding.

See also: Branding is more than an accessory: it is the foundation of every business

2. Compromising authenticity and originality

Remember who you are as a company, why you started and what your original mission and vision are, and stick to your unique selling proposition.

Consumers believe that authentic brands: are honest about their products and services; are not only interested in making money above all else; are transparent about ingredients, materials and country of origin; are socially and environmentally responsible; and have a cool, intriguing, or relevant brand story.

Don’t just be true, be clear and simple. Stay away from jargon and buzzwords, and avoid being overly scientific or technical. Complexity does not equal authority. Copywriting gurus typically use Microsoft Word’s built-in Flesch-Kincaid grade index when developing texts. This index measures how much education a person needs to understand a text.

These experts tell us that when an opportunity presents itself to deliver a message, remember the adage that if a fourth grader can understand it, you’re probably on the right track. Why? Because every time you communicate about your brand, you’re competing with the hundreds or thousands or even millions of other stories on a page or display – don’t make your writing seem like homework.

See Also: It’s Not You, It’s Your Story: Why Branding Matters

3. Neglecting the customer experience

You can have the prettiest website and the most incredible social media posts, but if the user experience with your brand seems shallow and sparkly (without substance), you will lose more than you gain.

Implementing systems that resolve customer service issues promptly, ensuring the buying experience is enjoyable, and ensuring the post-sales experience is even better are ways to ensure your expansion is successful. Ultimately, if a consumer enjoys doing business with a brand, they are more likely to remain engaged.

A bad customer experience can mean not only losing a customer, but also the five people that that person tells about it, or the thousands of people that look at that person’s reviews on Google, Yelp, Trustpilot, Amazon and elsewhere.

See also: How to optimize your branding

Don’t walk customers through your changes

Change may be necessary for your business, but properly curating how this is communicated to your customers will reduce confusion and a disconnect from your brand. If you are proactive and thoughtful about your extension and how it is perceived, you can also ask your customers for their opinion. Ask for their help in choosing a new logo, name, slogan, packaging, etc.

Social media is great for getting your customers and potential customers involved, engaging them and making them feel included. Avoiding these pitfalls essentially boils down to smart branding, being true to yourself and showing appreciation to your customers, which is great advice for all businesses, whether you’re expanding or not. Are you ready to expand your brand? Don’t make these 4 critical mistakes

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