A brand is everything your company does

A brand created from consideration, skill and expertise will give you strong foundations to grow your business.

In the early days of business there is a temptation to save money and pay a friends of a friends-uncle (or something like that) that does ‘logo design’ on the side, to create them a logo. This is a false sense of economy, as it is unlikely that the overall brand strategy will have been considered, meaning it will not last. Also, is it professional? Have your ambitions and goals been considered? Will it stand the test when it comes to wanting to grow your business internationally and gain recognition with high flying organisations? How will it look on a huge billboard, or on a tiny app screen?

Starting this way will keep costs low, but you will more than likely come up against problems and have to go back to the drawing board a year or two down the line, and commission a professional. This is not only more money for the brand (and reprinting everything), it is more time, and more energy.

Sometimes, start up logos make us in the design world wince…and sometimes, we find start ups have already grown fond of ‘that’ logo that was ‘thrown together’, because of familiarity (and sometimes plain stubbornness). What we often find as designers, is that this makes a difficult conversation to have with a startup.

We can see clear potential with your business, product and goals, but we know that this logo is going to hold you back, and, really, you don’t have a brand. Sometimes it is a blunt meeting, where we say ‘let’s just start from the beginning’. But know that we only have your interests and potential opportunities at heart.

What is a brand?

Brand is a term that is very loosely used and is often confused with ‘logo’. At Sail, we use the terms Brand, and Brand Identity.

A brand is about how a company, product or service makes their customers feel – it is not just about the visuals. Brand is the verbal strategy, the companies values and ethos, that underpins the visuals. Detailed strategy includes brand positioning, industry research, target audience definition, ambitions and goals. Having these foundations before crafting the visuals will ensure the Brand Identity created has meaning and understanding.

Brand Identity is how your Brand looks. This is the next step. This is your physical image that consumers instantly recognise when walking down the high street, your logo, colour palette, graphic elements, photography, style and tone of voice.

What is so important about a brand, over a logo?

A brand is your identity
Creating a brand allows a business to express who they are, what they do and why, which is more than what just one image alone could convey.

Attract and maintain customer loyalty
When a customer talks about their dealings with a company they are referring to much more than just an image. A familiar icon may be what helps identify a business on a crowded shelf or online store, but it’s a customer’s experience of that company, product or service that will keep them coming back for more.

Future-proof your business for growth
If you are just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey it may be difficult to know where you see the business in 2 or 5 years time. However, it’s essential that you develop your brand from day one as it will be easier to grow from a well thought out, solid foundation than have to start from scratch with a total overhaul several years down the line.

What elements go into creating a brand?

If your brand is your company’s identity, how do you go about creating a brand for your business? Here’s a few tips to get you started:

Know your ‘why’
Understanding your ‘why’ influences everything that sits behind your business. Being able to explain what it is you do are and why you do it will be a fundamental of your brand. A company’s skills and experience coupled with their passion – or their ‘why’ – will not only shape their products and services but their approach to delivering them too.

Clarity of your audience
Once you are clear on what you do and why will lead into this next step: figuring out who your ideal customer is. There’s no point in feeling magnanimous and declaring “everybody!” in answer to this question. Based on the problems you are trying to solve and the expertise you have to solve them, think about who needs your service the most and build a brand around them. There are many customer persona templates you can use to establish this.

Consistency
After first interaction, every time a customer comes into contact with your brand it should be familiar and consistent: from the colours and fonts used in signage, to the culture, to the tone of voice in publicity materials. Consistency builds familiarity and helps your customer set apart your business from the competition, knowing what they can expect.

How much should you invest?

At pre start, or start up, we know every penny counts and it is critical to time and budget to think carefully about where your money should be invested.

Industry advice to start ups of client facing brands (because in industries such as clothing, food, beauty products etc, brand is everything), is to use between 10-15% as a rough scale of investment into the brand. Advice to start ups of B2B can be less, at 5-10%. Obviously this all depends on your start up budget. A well-positioned, beautifully visualised brand with a compelling story can give a startup a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. But be aware that spending too much, too early can drain the business of the financial resources it needs for growth. Invest too little, too late, and the startup might under perform its true potential or disappear in a crowded field.

For further inspiration on how to create a brand identity for your business, take a look at our other blog posts:

choosing a business name

how to avoid common branding mistakes

how to refine your company’s vision

 If you’d like to learn more about how Sail Creative can help you in this process, drop us an email with any questions you may have.

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