When bad design makes your brand look like a scam
22 January 2018 | By Brooke Geller
We’re not going to lie: Bad brand design definitely makes us cringe. But poor design can do a lot more harm than provoking a few eye rolls. In some cases, it can actually drive away potential customers and cause irreparable damage to your brand’s reputation.
We’re living in a digital age where there’s no shortage of dodgy online stores and scams. This also means consumers are far more paranoid and wary of who they entrust with their personal information, let alone their money.
“We understand the costs of launching or rebranding can seem overwhelming, so we’re not here to suggest you take out a second mortgage to pay for brand design.”
When a consumer looks at your brand design, they’re not just thinking about the aesthetics. They’re thinking, “Are the people who run this brand professional? Are they adults? Can I actually trust them?”
Which is exactly why you can’t afford to take shortcuts with your brand design.
Red flag #1: DIY design
We look at beautiful design every day, but we’ve also seen our share of terrible work.
Many of these brands simply aren’t aware that their design choices bear some striking similarities to illegitimate businesses. You probably don’t need us to explain why that’s a bad thing.
Some of the worst offenders include:
- Home job collateral designed in Canva— or worse. Yes, we’re talking about Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (which are not design programs)
- Badly edited brand marks that are stretched, pixellated or off-centre
- Generic, outdated, or childish design that doesn’t speak to the brand’s personality and sophistication
- Overuse of stock photos that makes the customer wonder if the business is as “fake” as the imagery. This is especially common across websites.
- Misuse of brand marks through inconsistent logo variations
- Inconsistent variations of logos across brand collateral and communications
- Branding that’s far too similar to a competitor. Ever heard of copyright?
We understand the costs of launching or rebranding can seem overwhelming, so we’re not here to suggest you take out a second mortgage to pay for brand design. It’s totally understandable if you don’t splash out on the heavier card stock for your business cards, or can’t justify branded stationery just yet.
But getting your 15-year-old nephew to design your brand’s logo? That’s an unforgivable sin.
Red flag #2: Branding gone AWOL
Another huge red flag is failing to incorporate your branding on your product packaging. Suspicious online stores often utilise drop shipping services, which means their packaging is generally very plain and unbranded.
Because of this increasingly common tactic, delivering your products in unbranded packaging can cause your customers to wonder if you’re a real business or another online rip-off.
It’s also equally important to make sure everything you have an established domain that contains your business name, especially for your emails.
You might think you’re saving money, but a lack of official website will only set off alarm bells for today’s understandably wary consumers.
Red flag #3: Rebranding all wrong
It’s no secret that we love a good rebrand.
And by “good”, we mean a rebrand that’s both amazing and justified.
Rebranding too frequently can be interpreted as a sign that the brand is in trouble. Companies have been known to rebrand after a PR disaster in an attempt to deceive critics into thinking they’re a different company. Hence why hasty rebrands can look a little suspicious.
A rebrand isn’t just a revamp. Taking too much of a departure from your former branding can come across as trying to cut all ties from your brand’s past. It’s about striking the right balance between the old and the new.