Design Mistakes Can
Wreck a Brand’s Image. Here’s Why.

Knowing how appealing forms affect consumers’ attitudes toward products, services, and in extension, their providers, it’s no surprise that a brand’s visual identity represents one of the determining factors of a company’s success or failure on the market. This is the reason why there’s almost no venture today that doesn’t consider brand identity one of its top priorities.

Still, mistakes can happen even to the best, and in a competitive arena that is today’s marketplace, every misstep can turn a potential customer away and send them straight into the hands of the competition that’s ready and waiting.

If you’re looking to recognize and avoid design mistakes that can hurt the way your brand appeals to its target audience, here are the most important aspects to pay attention to.

Logo design mistakes

A logo is the first point of contact between a business and its audience, so it should be a flawless reflection of the brand itself. It must be appealing and unique, serving as a memorable visual representation of the brand’s identity and purpose.

This may sound reasonable and straightforward enough, but the process of designing a perfect logo is far from a walk in the park. This task is in fact so challenging, that even esteemed brands sometimes miss the mark and alienate their audiences by redesigning their logos inappropriately.

Stages of the Gap logo redesign process. The solution shown in the middle was rejected by consumers
and labeled as “nameless and faceless” by marketers and designer community.

Although each business is specific and there is no official rulebook on how to (and how not to) design a logo, here are a few examples of fundamental mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Logo complexity issues

A logo that’s too “crowded” with different elements or carrying too many colors will most likely distract and confuse your audience, making it difficult to grasp what your brand is all about.

A minimalist logo, on the other hand, can look dull and inconspicuous if created by an amateur rather than an experienced design professional (once again, mind the Gap example). Finding the solution that’s “just right” always requires research, skill, and time.

Adapting overused cliches

Take a few moments to try and remember all business logos you’ve seen that feature forms such as a light bulb, rocket, arrow, planet, or a puzzle piece. Although these symbols were great ideas once, it’s hard not to notice them everywhere you turn these days.

Creating a company logo from a symbol that’s an overused cliche sends a clear message to your audience: There’s nothing innovative or creative about this brand. Blending in instead of standing out is something no business should ever want to accomplish.

Logo design plagiarism

Stealing or creating a logo based on an already existing solution is the number one transgression in the world of branding. It might pass unnoticed while your business is still young, but as the awareness of your brand rises, chances are you’re going to be exposed very quickly, and the backlash will be fierce and immediate.

The controversial 2020 Olympics logo scrapped after allegations of plagiarism,
next to the Théâtre de Liège theater house logo designed two years prior.

Raster vs. vector files

No matter how original and appealing your company logo is, if it looks grainy and pixelated, there’s no observer who won’t think that your branding is either severely outdated or, even worse, you simply don’t care about it in the first place.

Trends and adaptability

A logo created in response to the current design trends might be a good idea this year, but how will it serve its purpose in about five or ten years? Can it be easily adapted when it’s time for a rebrand?

When designing a logo for your business, always put your brand’s values and purpose before fashionability and design tendencies popular at the time. Create something genuine, it might even become timeless.

Inadequate color palettes

Designing your brand’s visual identity usually begins with creating a logo, but it doesn’t end there. There’s a whole range of other elements to keep an eye on, including a suitable color palette, professional or custom-made typography, and a variety of supporting graphics (such as icons, photographs, and other design assets). They must all be shaped in a way that reflects your brand’s DNA and character clearly, appropriately, and consistently.

Choosing an inappropriate color palette can present your brand in an entirely different light than desired or make weaker impressions of your brand when compared to the competition. Since the colors you choose for your brand will be used across the board (within your logo, on company documents, and on your brand’s social media accounts) it’s vital to take this aspect of your brand’s visual identity very seriously.

Unattractive, poorly visible, or unsuitable fonts

Typography is one of the most important aspects of a brand’s identity, as the clarity of a brand’s voice depends on it. The choice of fonts determines not only the readability of text, but also the mood and overall feel a reader is going to experience while skimming through your brand’s written content, both in digital form and in print.

A chosen typeface should correspond to a brand’s message and purpose, and must always be suitable and readable. Poor combinations of fonts, fonts that are missing some of the necessary symbols, and typefaces with bad kerning are only a few striking examples of design mistakes that can make a brand appear inadequate and unattractive to its target audience.

Avoid poor font combinations and typefaces that are difficult to read.
Notice the unfinished look of the letters in the headline (especially W, N, and V).

Overused stock photography

The last decades of the 21st century represent a time of staggering content hyperproduction. One of the negative results of such a state of digital affairs is the fact that producing only original, tailor-made content is no longer an option for many businesses.

To make sure they always have something new to share, a lot of brands turn to stock content websites for help. This way, business owners save on the resources they would otherwise spend on professional photographers, equipment, and shooting venues, and choose to buy appropriate stock photographs online instead.

Still, cheap-looking or overused stock photography on your company website or social media accounts is always a red flag for potential customers. It clearly indicates a lack of care and dedication to make the brand appear unique in the marketplace.

Visual identity inconsistency

Last but not least (and we already mentioned this critical aspect of building a strong brand image a few paragraphs before), inconsistencies in color choices, styles of design assets, and typography can wreck your brand’s image in seconds. As that’s just enough time to make a first impression, your brand’s visual identity must be seriously well prepared not to let your leads leave unimpressed.

Brand identity discrepancies can often speak louder than words. If your company has a website, a Facebook page, and Instagram and Twitter profiles, you’ve only done half of the work. All these “boards” need to be connected, both in terms of visual presentation and tone of addressing.

Leave your audience perplexed by your brand’s style and tone inconsistencies, and they’ll often leave to put their trust in your competitors instead.

Treat the branding process as a strategy, rather than an afterthought

Neville Brody, a renowned graphic designer, art director, and typographer, once said: “Design is more than just a few tricks to the eye. It’s a few tricks to the brain.” A good design solution acts as a “trigger” that engages a digital passer-by’s attention, keeping them interested enough to stick around and find out what your business is all about.

Design solutions are, therefore, far from mere embellishments that make your brand look modern and fashionable. They must always be created with two crucial purposes in mind: To attract the target audience in question, and to help your brand stand out among hundreds of similar ones on the market.

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