Let’s face it: We are a society that judges. We judge businesses based on the elements of their brand the same way an interviewer judges an applicant on their appearance. Whether it is right or wrong doesn’t matter because everyone does it.

There are several ways you could be sabotaging your own business with your branding, and today I want to highlight 5 of those ways and talk about how to fix it. These are ranked from least damaging to most damaging.

  1. Business name
  2. Logo and brand elements
  3. Website
  4. Email address
  5. Business card

Business name. So many people pick a business name before they really think about what they want to do. They think that as long as it has the word “travel” in it they are OK. Does your business name explain what you do? Or do you find yourself explaining a lot? Our motto is, “Be clear, not cute” when it comes to naming a business! If you find that your name isn’t working, you can change it.

Logo and brand elements. Please, please, please pay a professional designer to come up with a logo that is inspiring and speaks to your target audience. It does not need a globe, plane, cruise ship, or palm tree in it! Seriously. NO MORE CLIP ART! If you DIY your logo, you will attract DIY clients. Have that same designer pick you colors and fonts and use them consistently. It matters!

Website. I can’t tell you how many websites I have seen where there is no way to tell who the person is behind the website. Many times there isn’t even a way to contact someone other than the contact form. That is definitely not customer-friendly. I don’t know why people think that being an anonymous corporation is an asset, but it isn’t. Make sure the website is focused on you and it is easy to get in touch with you! Have your phone number and/or email address easy to find.

Email address. And speaking of email, if you have a website you should use the same domain name for your email. DO NOT use Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or other personal email companies! Using a personal email address for a business screams, “I’m not serious about what I do”. If you have a website, you can have a business email. Your web hosting company can help you get it set up. It’s not that complicated.

Business card. If you have ordered a business card from Vistaprint or some other online retailer using a template, I want you to encourage you to make a commitment to take your business more seriously. I did an event a few months ago and there were at least a dozen cards in the bowl with the EXACT SAME TEMPLATE. What do you think that says? Here is how I (and many others) interpret it: “I am not serious about my business and can’t be bothered to create a brand”. Combine that with a personal email address (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) and you are going to be dismissed as a “hobbyist” and not a real travel professional by many of the industry people you meet.

The good news is that all of these things are fixable and can be done at relatively low cost. But you have to make the time and investment to make it happen. If you are thinking, “I need to wait until I make some money to invest in my business”, you aren’t ever going to make a lot of money because you aren’t really committed to the business. To have a successful business you have to invest in the tools and resources you need. Stop sabotaging yourself and put your best foot forward!