By Emily Suess

It takes a lot of work to build a strong brand, so it’s important to avoid any actions that might inadvertently dilute the perception others have of your small business. Look out for these seven common pitfalls to keep your brand strong and maintain a favorable image with current and prospective customers.

1. Be Flaky and Inconsistent

Your business’s brand essentially boils down to what others think about your products or your company. If your message is different from format to format or from day to day, you’re watering down your brand. Inconsistent messages will either make extremely difficult to remember or give consumers the impression of instability.

2. Think Only of the Short-Term Message

If you’re not building your brand and unique message based on long-term goals, your brand won’t stick. A brand needs to be consistent, but still customizable so that when you incorporate new products or expand into new forms of media you’re small business is still recognizable.

3. Go for Mix-and-Match or DIY Design Elements

Logos, marketing collateral, website design, blog graphics—all of these thing should be branded to reinforce the things you want your brand to communicate. Without a professional and cohesive design, your visual elements will be as distinguishable as a sweater rack at Goodwill and sweater rack at Salvation Army.

4. Shamelessly Self-Promote

Whether you’re creating your personal brand or a business brand, talking too much about yourself can become a problem. List only the most important accomplishments or you’ll draw the focus away from the brand itself and put the spotlight on your arrogance and pettiness. Make sure you frame your accomplishments in a way that consumers can easily understand the benefits for them.

5. Keep to Yourself

Another way to weaken your business’s brand is to isolate it from the outside world. Unless you take part in social media, connect and network with other business in your community, and involve yourself in local issues that are important to your consumers, your business will remain unseen. With a strong brand, people will not only know what you do by why you do it.

6. Skip Quality Control on Messages

Each and every piece of communication you distribute is an opportunity to reinforce your brand. Press releases, newsletters, promotion announcements, advertisements, blog posts—everything—should be proofread for spelling and grammar as well as overall message. Sending communication out but skipping this step is a wasted opportunity.

7. Extend Your Brand Too Soon

If you haven’t established a solid brand to begin with, stretching your brand to cover new products, services, or markets can backfire. When you are ready to extend your brand, stay close to the original brand’s voice and look, and test it out with your customers. Use that feedback to determine whether you’ve hit the mark or your need to do a little more work.

Whether you’re launching your brand for the first time or looking for new ways to breathe life to your existing brand, remember to avoid these common mistakes that water down your message.