If you want a modern, professional & future-proofed business, you need a BRAND, not a logo.
When you're starting out, or in the early stages of creating a business, it can be easy to just think 'I need a logo!' - what you are saying is that you want a graphic representation of your business to put on your website and business cards.
But what you need is a memorable overall 'brand' that will attract customers to your business.
You can hire people to design a cheap, basic logo for as little as $5. Heck, you can even buy pre-made logo templates cheaper than that. I don't mind tell you this because I don't offer 'logo design' services; I offer 'brand design' - something that cannot be condensed into 15 minutes' work (which is what $5 will get you, by the way - how else do you think people can make a living from offering that?).
What is a brand?
There are approximately 859,000,000 explanations of what a 'brand' actually is (and that's just on Google!), but here are some simple ways I like to explain it:
- Your brand is your business' personality/identity
- Your brand is the experience customers receive when they interact with your business
- Your brand is how your business looks, sounds, feels and acts
- Your brand is your business' reputation ("what people say about you behind your back")
Example: Lush Cosmetics
Chances are you've heard of this cruelty free bath & beauty brand, and perhaps have even been into a shop and purchased from them. Their branding always inspires me because at every touchpoint (be it their website, their newspaper/catalogue, their shops or their employees) their business personality (aka their branding!) shines through without fail.
As a customer, I see their brand as:
- Happy, fun and friendly
- Strong moral values for the environment & animal rights
- Quirky, creative and enthusiastic
- Caring; about using quality ingredients that are good for your skin
The experience for customers is always consistent with this branding; the shops smell amazing (okay - not for everyone, I get that!), their staff are always friendly & enthusiastic, their design is bold, quirky, and displays their values clearly, and even the product descriptions on their labels & on the website are creative, fun and personal.
Fun fact: I once tried to apply for a job at Lush and they made us create A1 collage moodboards of our life rather than handing in CVs - just one of the ways they make sure all employees have the right attitude and are aligned with their brand.
What goes into creating a brand?
As I mentioned above, a logo is simply one graphical representation of your brand/business. There are a whole host of other things that are important elements of an overall brand, and an important thought process/strategy behind it all too:
- Knowing your brand values and aspirations (ie. your 'why')
Why did you start your business in the first place? What problems are you trying to solve and what are you passionate about? Where do you want to be in 2, 5 or 10 years? These things are what creates the very core of your brand.
*BONUS: Learn how to create an 'Onliness Statement' to work out your 'why'
- Understanding your target customer
Who do you want to appeal to? Don't just say 'everyone'! There needs to be a way you can narrow down your targeting even slightly, otherwise your marketing efforts will be extremely difficult and expensive.
Eg. My target customers aren't just businesses, they are creative freelancers (usually female) who have a vision for their business but lack the technical knowledge to bring that design to life. Yes, I work with other types of people too, but I specifically target these people.
*BONUS: Read more about how to create a customer profile.
- Working on your brand's personality
Envision your business as a person; what do they look like? What do they sound like? How do they dress? What are they like to be around? Get to the bottom of what your business' personality is so that you can let that shine through your words, design & actions.
* BONUS: Read more on how to foster an open, personal brand personality.
- Having brand copy/voice guidelines
How will your business interact with customers? Are you informal and chatty or professional and helpful? Will you ever use slang words, text speak or *gulp* swear words? How might you respond to bad reviews/'hate comments' online - with a witty comeback or a helpful, patient response?
- Creating a brand design concept & guidelines
This is where us brand designers come in. We will use all your branding 'homework' to create a full design concept for you, including not just a logo, but a kit of logo variations, submarks, patterns, colours and fonts that you can use to make your whole brand LOOK consistent.
*BONUS: Find out 5 ways that inconsistent branding could damage your business
- Bringing cohesion to your 'touchpoints'
On that note, once you have your design concept and copy/voice guidelines in place, you need to make sure all your touchpoints (eg. your website, social media, business cards, storefront, van, adverts... whatever it may be) as consistently worded and designed. This helps your brand to become more memorable - like Lush!
*BONUS: Here's a helpful infographic to see what your touchpoints are!
- Acting the part & upholding reputation
Now you've talked the talk, you need to walk the walk, and make sure your actions (your next product release, events you attend, announcements you make, strategic business moves) are all consistent with the personality you've created. Your customers have to truly believe in your brand and what you say you are, otherwise there is no point in doing it at all!
So, why a brand & not just a logo?
After all that, you might still be thinking 'yeah but I'm only small, I don't really need all that!'. This is an extremely common mindset, and one that I really want people look beyond. Below are just a few reasons why having an overall brand is so important (even for small businesses & freelancers!):
- Future-proof your business for growth
You say you're small now, but what if you want to grow and scale your business? Sure you may not care about that now, but in 2 years you can't know what you will want. Growing from a solid foundation of a well-thought-out brand is much easier than getting several years down the line and having to do a complete overhaul, starting from scratch.
- Pave the way & stay ahead of the competition
In this day and age, it's simply not enough just to have one logo slapped on your website, business cards and letterheads. That is not a 'brand', and your customers are getting increasingly savvy about that. If they have to choose between you and your competitor, who has a modern, cohesive brand that they resonate with, they're going to choose them.
- Gain customers who truly love your business
Yes, you can probably get by with customers who buy from you once and that's that, but the real money is in gaining customers who are loyal advocates of your business. They understand what you're about and it resonates with them, they stay local to you but not only that - they recommend you to others like there's no tomorrow! It's hard to get customers like this if you don't have a clear brand/personality because they can't see what you're about.