Good Branding vs. Bad Branding: How to Spot the Difference?

Why do some brands achieve massive success while others quickly dissipate into the digital void? A big part of it has to do with branding. Good branding vs. bad branding can make a huge difference in how a brand is perceived.  

It’s no secret that companies with solid branding tend to attract more customers and higher revenue than those without a recognizable brand. Although most businesses know that branding is important, 60% of them don’t follow the branding guidelines they have in place. 

In this article, we will explore the key differences between good branding vs. bad branding to help you understand why some brands are extremely successful while others inevitably fail. 

What Is Branding?

Branding isn’t just the visual identity of a brand, although many people still think so. The most common misconception about branding is the belief that a brand is defined solely by its logo and colors. 

Sure, the visual identity of your business is important, but branding is much more than that. It is anything that defines your business’s “personality” – from its logo and colors to your messaging and tone of voice. 

Still, good branding goes beyond the visual and verbal identity of a business. It’s also about its purpose, values, mission, and vision – all of which will manifest in its marketing and ad campaigns. These are the key elements that make people connect with brands. 

Take the LEGO brand, for example. We love LEGO because of the sense of playfulness it brings to our lives. Even though the company primarily targets children, adults also love the brand because it brings them back to their childhood. LEGO’s brand values are all about creativity, imagination, fun, and learning through play.

Good Branding vs. Bad Branding: 4 Key Differences 

Branding is an inherent component of running a business. Whether you are intentionally building your brand or not, you’ll still end up with one – and one you might not like.

In the words of Jeff Bezos,  “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things well.” That’s exactly what makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful brands. 

Good branding intentionally gives your business a carefully curated identity. It helps you communicate a coherent message and maintain consistency across all touchpoints – from your website and social media platform to your customer support. 

Bad branding, on the other hand, lacks intention. It’s vague, unclear, confusing, and fails to convey your business’s identity.

Branding can make or break your business because it’s the foundation of everything you do. It doesn’t matter how brilliant your marketing is or how groundbreaking your products are. If you lack a clear and strong brand, you’ll struggle to convince people to buy from you. 

Here are the main differences between good branding vs. bad branding. 

Good Branding Gives You an Identity. Bad Branding Doesn’t.

A brand is to a company what a personality is to a person. In other words, good branding gives your business a clear identity. 

Take successful brands like Coca-Cola or Apple. When you see a MacBook, you likely think, “innovation, sleek design, status.” When you see a can of Coca-Cola, you likely think, “friends, fun, happy moments.” That’s because these brands have a strong identity reflected in everything they do. Because of that, they have managed to create strong associations in people’s minds. 

If these brands were people, we’d think of Apple as a visionary tech genius and trendsetter who always thinks outside the box, and we’d think of Coca-Cola as the charismatic friend who’s the soul of the party. That’s the power behind good branding.

Bad branding, on the other hand, is the opposite. It fails to convey the business’s personality and lacks intentionality, which makes it hardly memorable and impossible to stand out. 

Good Branding Is Cohesive. Bad Branding Is Not. 

Good branding helps a business achieve a cohesive image by ensuring consistency in its visual identity and verbal messaging across all platforms. 

This means that whenever customers come across the brand, whether through a billboard, a Facebook ad, or a TikTok video, they will experience the same colors, design style, and brand voice every time. This sense of cohesiveness is what makes brands stick in our minds. 

On the other hand, bad branding will lack consistency and cohesiveness, making many brands go unnoticed and become completely forgotten. The absence of a consistent identity, vision, or message can seriously compromise your brand’s impact and undermine its ability to stand out. 

A poorly thought-out strategy may also affect your brand’s credibility and professionalism. For instance, erratic and inconsistent visuals, design styles, and voices may be perceived as chaotic and unclear, in turn compromising the perception of your brand. 

At the end of the day, what you really want is to make sure your target audience perceives you as an authority in your field.

Good Branding Is Clear. Bad Branding Is Confusing. 

Good branding is also shaped by clarity in messaging through both visual and verbal means. Confusing messages, on the other hand, deter consumers and compromise their trust in your brand. 

Before you can convey a cohesive message, you first need to get crystal clear about your brand’s vision and objectives. Only once you have achieved such clarity will you be able to communicate your brand’s values and articulate what sets you apart from the competition.

Plus, having a strong sense of purpose and a clear set of values makes your brand more meaningful to consumers. People connect with brands that share the values they believe in. Successful brands know this. They’re clear about their mission and take consistent action that aligns with it, which helps them build stronger emotional connections with their audiences. 

A great example of a brand aligned with its vision and purpose is IKEA. Renowned for its core value of sustainability, IKEA makes it a point of consistently showing this commitment in its actions. For example, in 2021 alone, over half of the materials used by IKEA were renewable, and nearly 20% were recycled.

Bad branding that results from a lack of internal clarity can lead to confusing and inconsistent messages. If you haven’t clearly defined your brand’s purpose and what makes it different from competitors, you’ll find it hard to be relatable to consumers. 

Good Branding Is Timeless. Bad Branding Is Not.

Many brands succumb to the pressure of new design trends and changing standards. But in reality, good branding stands the test of time. Not for nothing, successful brands such as Chanel still adhere to their initial mission with minimal to no change to their simple and elegant logo design. 

Conversely, bad branding gives in to the pressure of short-lived design trends and fleeing consumer preferences. That’s why it often tends to lack substance. 

Even big brands often succumb to changing design trends and opt for a logo redesign. But many of those logo redesigns have been met with criticism from the public – not because the new logos were bad but because their old logos are so ingrained in people’s minds that a redesign wasn’t welcomed. 

While even well-known brands occasionally need to adjust to change, the ones we truly love and have a deep connection with are often those that have maintained the same identity over a long period of time.

Build a Meaningful Brand with Dorothy House

A brand is more than slick visuals and flashy fonts. It’s your entire identity – from the visual and verbal side to the most intimate elements, like your purpose, mission, and values. 

Ultimately, branding is what makes a difference between extremely successful brands and those that are quickly forgotten. Because no matter how brilliant your marketing campaigns are and how good your products or services are, if you lack proper branding, you’ll struggle to make sales. 

So, as you lay out your brand strategy, your focus should be on creating a strong identity, cohesive presence, and clear messaging that appears consistently across all of your channels.

At Dorothy House, we can help you do that. We’re here to help you build a brand that truly represents you. If you’re looking to build a brand that connects with your audience, get in touch with us. 


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