Adobe Creative Cloud

The 6 Biggest Design Mistakes Brands are Making Today

Design mistakes can be as simple as a bad font choice or as serious as a poorly crafted UX.  Whether you’re following a trend that’s not right for your brand or failing to ask the critical questions about the user experience, design mistakes can cost you sales and customer relationships. We reached out to our community of creative and design thinkers to get fresh insights on the biggest mistakes brands are making in 2016 – and how to avoid them.


Choosing Flash Over Authenticity
“So many brands want to look and feel like Apple or other big names when they have nothing in common with those brands. The result is inauthenticity and a feeling of bait and switch. It’s kind of like angsty teenagers who spend hours getting the best angle for their selfie. It looks nothing like them in real life. Just like in real relationships, brands should value honesty and the ability to be real.” – Kristin Arbuckle, Art Director at 11Web

Marc Ferrino_GSD&M

Too Many Priorities Cause Brands to Lose Their Way
“At the foundation of every brand there is purpose, an ideology, a rally cry or a rich history. It is important to break these philosophies down to their most simple visual form. I see so many incredible brands that are quite frankly either forgetting who they are or just being too complicated in their message. As designers, it’s our job to show our clients the way.” Marc Ferrino, Design Director, GSD&M

Bill Albert_Square

Over-Design without a Focus on the UX
“The biggest mistake I see is over-design. Far too many companies design their digital products to be visually stunning, yet completely unusable. The best way to correct this mistake is to think about why and how customers will use their digital product.” -Bill Albert, Executive Director, Bentley University User Experience Center

Suzanne Pellican Intuit_Square

Radical Redesigns That Lose Brand Equity
“It’s awesome to see the rise of world-class design within companies and how they’re taking on more and more of the work that was handled by agencies. But, those agencies know well that brands are built over time and equity in your brand identity is not fungible. So, even if you’re not in love with your identity, be careful on how radically you change it and what it’ll cost you to build that equity back up again.”  – Suzanne Pellican VP, Design Fellow at Intuit

Bryon Lomas Headshot

Falling Into the Template Trap
“A templated website may seem awesome, but it likely fails to account for the consumer journey, important features for functionality, or decision-making steps. Even if a company offers “web services” dedicated to specific verticals, you may end up with a website which looks and functions just like your competitor’s – losing your chance to stand out and show your company’s voice. -Bryon Lomas, VP, Creative at Garfield Group

Adam O Leary_Square

Not Adapting Creative to Different Channels
“One of the biggest mistakes we see brands making in design is not evolving their creative to fit changing marketing channels. With most businesses using social media as a marketing strategy, they are still sticking with design fundamentals that state a visual identity (for example) needs to be seen the same way whenever a consumer views it. Brands need to (carefully) break this rule. They need to design artwork that still is recognizable as the brand but simplified.” – Adam O’Leary, President, Encite Marketing

What are the biggest brand mistakes you’re seeing in 2016, and what solutions do you recommend to designers tackling these issues? Let us know in the comments below.

UX/UI Design

Join the discussion

  • By Michael W. Perry - 8:22 AM on March 21, 2016  

    I’d add another, one that Detroit’s Big Three automakers missed in the early 1970s. That’s forgetting that a brand name isn’t everything. In the end your products have to do what they’re purchased to do. When gas prices began to rise rapidly in the 1970s, American automakers didn’t have quality cars that got good gas mileage. That left the door open for Asian automakers to move into the U.S. market and establish their brands. Detroit has never recovered.

    Apple’s making that mistake. It’s leaving huge gaps that competitors can use to steal away customers. Their high-end desktop in over-priced and years out of date. That kills them with many gamers and graphic pros. Their only component desktop, the Mac mini, is becoming little more than an overpriced version of the Apple TV. Apple simply doesn’t offer a computer that makes sense for business either. Why, for instance, don’t they make a desktop that combines the features of a Drobo with those of an easily upgraded and fixed desktop? They’d one-up the rest of the market. Instead, they expect everyone to want a pricey toy like the iMac.

    Apple’s laptops are also becoming a joke, particularly the anorexic MacBook Air. Laptops used to have three advantages over tablets: 1. More powerful software, 2. Keyboards, 3. More I/O features.

    That’s changing. The software gap is ending for all but the most high-end applications. Bluetooth keyboards are easily added to provide that keyboard. Other laptop makers are clever enough to continue to give their laptops more I/O ports than a tablet. Not so Apple. It’s gutting the ports on its laptops for reasons that defy sense (i.e. thinness). Travelers who use Mac laptops are forced to carry a host of adapters to make it as functional and anyone else’s laptop. And why should users pay twice as much for a Mac laptop when all the advantages of a laptop no longer exist with Macs?

    No brand name, however functional, can rescue a company from products that fail to deliver value. For an illustration, look at what’s happen to the Cadillac brand. It used to bestow status. Then it became synonymous with gas guzzler. Now it’s almost invisible.

  • By Sasha Brant - 10:24 AM on March 22, 2016  

    This is a great piece! Falling into the template trap is something that I’m seeing all too often, especially at the small business level. The bigger discussion point is how do you get a business owner focused on the fact that they need to balance trade offs like cost with the impact of design? Really good design should pay off in the long run. I’m not sure that a template website really has that same power though.

  • By scanf solutions - 2:17 AM on March 31, 2016  

    This is quality piece of content. I am owner of web design company, but i have no idea about these mistakes. I will see this post to my web designer team. Thanks for this information.