Brands can be a challenge to manage. The modern brand is so much more than a logo and a set of colors. There’s a personality involved. When executed effectively, it’s reflected in every part of a business, internally and externally, offline and online.

Branding can make or break an entire business. It’s why so many companies have brand guidelines to ensure consistency. But those guidelines don’t always get followed to the letter, and mistakes are bound to happen at one point or another.

With that said, here’s four brand mistakes to be aware of.

You don’t have (or follow) brand guidelines. Let’s start off with a quick discussion on the aforementioned brand guidelines. As noted by Inc., 95% of organizations have brand guidelines. Yet at the same time, only a fourth of those organizations are following them consistently. Guidelines help ensure that your brand stays on message. They prevent customer confusion and improve visibility.

Make sure employees at every level are not only aware of brand guidelines, but actively carrying them out. And if by some chance, you’re part of the 5% that doesn’t have brand guidelines at all, I think you know what to do.

You haven’t established trustworthiness. Brand personality exists because brands are sort of like people in the minds of many. We identify values and traits that these brands exhibit, and we identify with them. Because there’s a very human element to effective branding, trustworthiness is essential. You wouldn’t want to be friends with someone you couldn’t trust, right? The same goes with brands.

Transparency – being honest with your audience – is a key component of building trust between brand and consumer. According to a study from Label Insight, 94% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands that are offering total transparency. Build transparency and be rewarded.

You’re not building loyalty. Brands that aren’t focused on building loyalty are making a critical mistake. Loyalty is the cornerstone of long-term customer retention. Your brand needs to be presented so that your target audience can easily identify what it has to offer.

Loyalty starts at the first purchase. As noted by the MaCorr Research Blog, nearly half of customers (48%) find that the most important moment for loyalty development occurs at that very point. While loyalty does develop over a longer period of time, that first moment is crucial. First impressions matter. It’s imperative that your brand is constantly focused on building loyal customers.

Your customer service doesn’t reflect your brand. If you’ve ever had a negative customer service experience with a brand you considered yourself loyal to, you know exactly what I’m referring to here. One of the larger mistakes brands can make is adopting customer service practices that don’t align with their values. If you’ve got a brand that does a lot of community outreach, donates to charity, and projects an extremely positive image, negative customer service can go a long way toward damaging that image.

According to a report from RightNow, 73% of consumers will fall in love with a brand because of friendly customer service representatives and employees. People remember those positive experiences. As I mentioned, there’s a human element to brands, and customer service is a reflection of that. These are the people that represent your brand.

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Are you avoiding these brand mistakes? What branding pitfalls do you try to avoid? Sound off in the comments!