Building, maintaining, and protecting a brand can be a company’s most important investment. Branding efforts can be as simple as designing a logo, or as complex as developing a complete content strategy. Regardless of scope, branding initiatives shape the face of your company and make it relatable to your customers.

Whether you’re creating a new brand from scratch or refreshing a brand that’s been around for decades, there are a few simple branding do’s and don’ts that all marketers need to know.

DO: Look at the competition

No brand exists in a vacuum - understanding the existing landscape is critical to branding success. Take a look at other companies in your industry and get a feel for how they’re positioning themselves. If all of the competition is focused on the wide variety of products they offer, positioning your own brand to instead highlight quality or service attributes could set you apart (and ahead) of the pack.

DON’T: Think too small

A good brand should withstand the test of time. For new businesses, it can be tempting to base a brand on the particular product, service, or location you’re initially launching. But naming your company “King Street Web Design” today can present serious problems if you decide to expand geographically or offer new products in the future. While some brands have overcome this limitation, it’s preferable to build a brand from the start that can grow and adapt with your business over time.

DO: Keep it simple

When it comes to branding elements like logos, taglines, and messaging, simplicity cannot be beat. Few people are going to save up for a family vacation to “A kingdom with rides, characters, and toys,” but with more than 50 million annual visitors, Walt Disney World has truly established itself as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” This is just one example (of many) where simplifying a tagline to hone in on one key benefit makes the brand that much more desirable and long-lasting.

DON’T: Change on a whim

Topping the list of the world’s most recognisable brands, Nike, Coca-Cola, and Ford all have brands that have remained largely unchanged through the decades. The entire purpose of a brand is to provide a consistent face for your company to the public. Brands who change direction too frequently don’t have enough time to build recognition among their consumers. Taking the time to create a solid brand should ensure that only small tweaks are needed to keep your brand fresh and relevant over time.

DO: Eat, sleep, and breathe the brand

Once your brand is in place, it should serve as the cornerstone for nearly every other marketing decision that’s made within the company. From collateral, to packaging, to content, to social media, all spokes of the marketing wheel need to be rooted in the same brand values and attributes. The reason Nike is synonymous with “Just Do It” and McDonald’s with “I’m Lovin’ It” is because these messages are repeated consistently and persistently everywhere consumers encounter the brand.

Using these basic Do’s and Don’ts of branding will help you build and nurture a successful brand for years to come. Do you have other golden rules that help to define your brand? Share in the comments below!