You think you are ... but are you?
So, you're about to set up a new small business and you have someone lined up for a logo design. That's all you need on the branding front for now, right? You are only just getting started after all.
It's fair to say that you shouldn't over complicate things and pay out more than necessary in design agency fees, but it's worth thinking about the following brand basics to ensure you set out on the right foot to enable your business to grow in the future without having to reinvent the wheel. Think about;
what your company and your brand really stands for. The back story which provides the inspiration for your vision; a short punchy sentence which reflects what you want your company to do and be.
some key words which truly reflect your company, its personality and your vision. Those words may be fleshed out to become your brand pillars which should always be reflected in your future marketing. This will keep your company true to its ethos.
the company name, its logo/icon and/or wordmark. While a name is important, it's probably less important than you think. Unattractive names can become iconic. If odd names made bad brands then Sweaty Betty, Fat Face or Weird Fish may have never made the shelves! But you need to do your research and risk assessment. Available names at Companies House, web URLs and social media handles teamed with competitor copyright and, if you're planning to go International, language translations, can cause endless amounts of toing, froing and general pain to get everything to knit together neatly. Think about how the logo will look across the different executions you'll need it on; website, letterheads, embroidered uniforms, large window graphics etc. You'll probably need different variants - full colour, one colour, reversed out etc and some designs are simply too fussy once they are shrunk to smaller proportions. That might lead you to thinking about an icon which can be used independently of your wordmark. Favicons for example are the tiny wee icons used on a webpage tab that help identify your brand.
your tone of voice, which is really just how you want to talk to your audience. It reflects your brand personality. Depending on your product or service, you'll need to think about what's most appropriate to connect with your customers but still remain true to your brand ethos. While a catchy tagline isn't imperative, these are often used in conjunction with a logo and on brand campaigns to assist with a brand's positioning and its promise.
a set of brand guidelines? Surely you don't need this if you're only getting started? Perhaps just consider the basics. In addition to those things we've talked about above, there's your colour palette, your typography, your imagery principles, your copy style, some basic layout designs for some key promo items, and obviously more the larger the company is. Having consistency across these areas will help build up recognition for your brand as you start to reach out to your audience.
Then, when you've got this far on the basics, consider your brand launch strategy.
When should you launch? The answer to this is simply when your customers are likely to be the most receptive. You might want to equate it to timing an ebay auction. Don't end it at 2am on a Monday morning! Think about what other noise is going on out there and how you are going to grab the attention.
How will you launch? You may choose to soft launch with the intention of building up over time or maybe you're in need of the 'big bang' approach? Either way you'll need to plan your marketing promotions and brand campaigns so that you start creating a buzz.
Then, going forwards it's critical that you consider the 'brand experience' your clients and customers receive when doing business with you. Think about the brand imprint you leave behind every time someone interacts with your company. That's literally every touchpoint from your website to your physical premises to how you answer the phone. Don't underestimate how much all of this counts towards word- of-mouth recommendations and future business.
Think BIGGER. Think BROADER. Think BRAND!
Photo credit: Andrew Adams