Whether you're a startup or a well-established brand, marketing is the most important tool you can use to elevate your brand and increase visibility and, as a result, profitability for your company.

But far too many brands are frankly, doing it all wrong, making common marketing mistakes from inconsistent social media strategies to downright horrible ad placement and content. Be in the minority of competent brands and follow these guidelines for marketing success.

First Impression is Everything

Even if you can't afford to hire a large agency to create your brand book, making sure that you are consistent and have a style guide to follow across all platforms is critical to building a consistent and strong brand.

Having guidelines regarding things like your font choice, brand color, and even image quality will ensure that your brand makes the best first impression.

In "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, he states, "People make their decisions based on their 30 second first impression."  That's why branding is such a critical component to building equity and value with your target market.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that you can turn off a consumer just as quickly by faltering on the aforementioned brand guidelines.  When consumers are confused, they have an immediate and negative reaction.

This split second reaction, whether it was caused by inconsistencies in color, font, spelling errors or even punctuation can have a huge influence on purchase decisions, so make sure you take control over that which you can change and instill strong brand guidelines for your company.

Cringe-Worthy Content

Just because you can afford a commercial doesn't mean you should have one. Everyone has seen those public access-esque commercials for the local furniture store or salon.  And while some have become iconic over the years, the bad ones make you shrink back in your seat in abject horror. 

What's even more horrific is that those commercials can cost upwards of $25,000 when you factor in production cost, ad placement and the planning behind them.

Other cringe-worthy ads are ones that ruin your credibility.  Have you ever called a lawyer whose face was on that billboard or on the back of the bus?  I didn't think so.  When using the wrong marketing medium, brands can severely damage their trustworthiness.  1-800-IFAILED.

No Contact Information

You would think this would be a no-brainer at this point, but unfortunately brands make this mistake all the time.  It really just makes me sad when you see a brilliant campaign and no call to action, or even worse, when you're on a site or receive a piece of collateral and there is no contact info.

Even though the company has spent massive amounts trying to get your attention, they lost the opportunity to sell to you because they epically failed in providing a way to contact them.  Even if they do have contact information, if it's severely hidden it's the same mistake (silent single tear trickling down face). What a sheer waste of energy and most certainly, money.

Not Another Newsletter

Consumers are smart, so if you call your monthly newsletter a "newsletter," it's one of the dumbest things you can do.  If you asked a room of people if they want to receive a newsletter from a brand they just came across, I would be shocked if you even got one single hand raised. 

What does that mean for the future of newsletters?  They are still definitely relevant but, just like with everything else, having more attuned consumers means that brands have to work harder to be more clever and witty than the brand next to them competing for the same eyeballs. 

Alliterations are always welcome for newsletter titles, but more than anything, make sure that they aren't too content heavy and are actually useful; otherwise don't bother.

Who...R....U?

Another Duh moment.  If you are trying to build personal or brand presence online and don't have a picture, I will not add you.  Come on, you're better than that.

In a world full of frauds and catfishing ploys, having a profile page with no original pictures just makes you or your brand seem like it's a fake. Building trust takes time like any relationship, so make sure you have a consistent look and feel.

It's unfortunate that there are so many preventable brand fails out there like these, but now that you've seen this list, you have no excuses.  And if you're having a hard time getting "brand traction," maybe it's time for a brand audit.