As I’ve discussed numerous times before, your brand is an extension of your vision. It’s not just a logo, a pamphlet, your labeling or your website. It’s not just your social media activity or recruiting; it’s everything about you and your company that represents what you stand for. It’s your value system, and it’s your company culture. Your brand is the one thing that shows the world what you are all about. Your brand is a multi-faceted beast that can be undermined at any point by easily avoidable mistakes.

We all strive to create a brand image that stands out from the crowd. I know that I want my brand to be the best and someday be the most recognizable. I also know that this growth must be organic and in-line with a consistent brand image, rather than full of gimmicks and tricks. Often, we get so caught up in creating a brand image that resonates in the marketplace; we get lost along the way adding in things that only serve to muddle the overall brand image. Here are four common mistakes brands tend to make when cultivating their brand image that only serves to undermine it.

The what and how of it

At the core of it all, I sell water. That’s what this brand is. But focusing on just what I do would be a disservice to the overall brand. Instead, I focus on how we do that. How do we bring our product to the marketplace? How do we work internally as a company? How do we create a lively culture of teamwork and passion? Focusing on what you do rather than how you do it doesn’t tell consumers and competitors what your brand is all about. It’s a fact; it’s a flat piece of statistical information that turns your brand into a name on a piece of paper, not a living, breathing entity that you worked hard to create. Focus on the how, not the what.

Much more than a logo

This one should be obvious, but so many companies hire a great designer, create a fantastic logo and believe that they have built a brand. But there is nothing behind the picture. There is no brand story, no brand vision. There is just a vector design with some eye-catching colors and perhaps a trendy phrase. This immediately creates a dearth of information about your brand, which is nothing more than a logo. Of course, your brand needs a logo; it needs marketing material. But first it needs a story, it needs your vision, and it needs to engage consumers on its own merit. Your brand logo and brand visuals should be an extension of your brand, not your brand itself.

The price of branding

Branding doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to hop on every current trend or spend money on every fad in the marketplace. Overspending on branding can do your business more harm than good because, at that point, you are simply buying your position in the marketplace instead of organically growing your reputation. If your brand message is consistent and worth paying attention to, you don’t need to spend a ton of cash expressing it to anyone who will listen.

Who are you

Who are you as a brand? What does your vision say about you and your brand? Considering the answers to these questions are the beginning of creating a brand message that is more than just a logo, more than just an extension of what you do and what you sell. This will help you create your brand story, how your brand does what it does and build a strong brand personality. From this, your customers will know who you are, how your brand stands out from the rest and how your brand story should be something they are interested in. Not knowing your brand personality or who you are is the most common mistake made by brands.

The power of branding is more than just presenting an image along with a what. It’s the how, it’s the why, and it is you. Your brand is a personality, it’s a story, and it’s something that you want consumers to engage with and believe in right alongside you and your team. Creating a brand image that is more than just the what and a logo will build a brand that is undeniably unforgettable.