50 Signs That Your Brand Identity is a Shocking Failure

Every business has a brand, whether they want one or not. Some businesses never address the issue at all, happy to plod along with a generic logo and a workaday mentality, blissfully unburdened by ambition or meaningful customer engagement. Others are aware of the value of brand identity, but struggle to get to grips with the concept, or are unwilling to invest time and resources in executing it properly. Still others will throw vast resources behind the development of a unique and comprehensive brand strategy, but even this is no guarantee of success.

The law of averages suggests that there are far more failed brands in the annals of history than there are successful ones. Here are 50 telltale signs that your brand identity is destined for failure on a spectacular scale (but still, keep your chin up, eh?):

  1. Nobody knows who you are.
  2. Your logo looks like clipart.
  3. The name of your business is just a description of what you do (possibly prefaced by the name of your town).
  4. Your business name is unpronounceable by humans.
  5. You're unsure how you should decorate your premises.
  6. Your logo features a poorly-drawn character acting out your core business activity.
  7. Your logo is heavily influenced by a design trend that was all the rage for 6 months, 5 years ago.
  8. Your logo can't be scaled up without loss of quality.
  9. Your brand's colours look different in every format they appear.
  10. Your logo is so complex or detailed that it's undecipherable at smaller sizes.
  11. Your 'logo' is just plain sans-serif text, 'designed' by a sign production company.
  12. Your brand mascot is a cartoon version of yourself.
  13. You have nothing unique to say that sets you apart from your competitors.
  14. Your employees aren't enthusiastic about the brand.
  15. The name of your business is deeply meaningful to the founder - but completely meaningless to everyone else.
  16. Your logo was created in Microsoft Paint.
  17. Your brand mascot is an anthropomorphic version of a work-related object such as a spanner or paperclip (extra failure marks if it has googly eyes and white gloves).
  18. Your logo uses fonts that are included with Microsoft Office by default (especially Comic Sans or Papyrus).
  19. You're premises look just like everyone else's.
  20. You don't know the Pantone or CMYK colour codes for your brand colours.
  21. Your logo appears either squashed or stretched, anywhere, ever.
  22. Your solution to the challenge of engaging customers is to write all your brand communications as if you're the customer's bestest buddy ever.
  23. You feel the need to claim that you're 'passionate' about something completely mundane and self-evidently devoid of passion, just because everyone else says it.
  24. Your customers don't have any reason to talk about their experience with your product or service.
  25. You have difficulty getting customers to understand and share your enthusiasm for what you do.
  26. The business' doesn't actively pursue any objectives other than profit.
  27. Your marketing communications don't have a consistent underlying message.
  28. Your business name or mascot relies on leveraging someone else's intellectual property to be effective (Lilo's on City Road, Cardiff - I'm looking at you).
  29. You don't have a compelling explanation for why your logo looks the way it does.
  30. Your written and/or verbal marketing communications each sound like they were written by completely different people with completely different personalities.
  31. You don't have a carefully selected set of fonts that are used consistently for everything you do.
  32. You refuse to positively engage with the subject of brand identity, because you suspect that brands are evil.
  33. Your entire brand identity is copy/pasted from an existing brand or organisation that you particularly admire.
  34. Your logo design accidentally looks like something it shouldn't.
  35. All of your products and/or services are developed and marketed separately, with no sense of how they support (or are supported by) the parent brand.
  36. Your logo is difficult to adapt for presentation in different formats and dimensions.
  37. You don't have vector versions of your logo (either EPS or AI format).
  38. Your logo features an elaborate script font that looks pretty but is basically impossible to read unless you already know what it says.
  39. Your identity isn't adding any value to your business, product or service.
  40. People look at your logo, shake their heads sadly, and walk away.
  41. Your brand colours clash so badly that they cause uncomfortable optical effects.
  42. Nothing about your storefront is unique or enticing, and you're unsure how to fix that.
  43. Customers don't get any sense of what your values are.
  44. The person who designed your logo used stock images with non-exclusive rights.
  45. The person who designed your logo used images to which they had no rights whatsoever.
  46. Your identity doesn't help you to develop compelling brand stories.
  47. The customer experience doesn't match the brand positioning.
  48. You talk about your brand values instead of demonstrating them.
  49. The name of your business has existing connotations that undermine your brand identity instead of supporting it.
  50. Nobody, not even the business founder, can convincingly describe what the brand's identity is.


If you're brave you can post your score out of 50 in the comments section below - if you scored more than zero you should probably get in touch with Brandsworth.