It can be hard to know where to start with branding for a start-up or SME business owner who is trying to create something from scratch. It makes sense that you’d probably need to hire a designer in this situation, but if you don’t know what you want out of your brand, it’s going to be difficult to offer up a brief that gives you the results you want.
If you think putting a brief together could be daunting, here are a few things for you to consider:
KEY BRANDING QUESTIONS
When we start initial conversations with a client to discuss creating their brand, there are some key questions that allow us to understand what is being envisioned for the business as a whole. This allows us to guide the client on what’s possible, what will work (or not work!) and also what’s going to be achievable within budget when it comes to developing their brand. This last point is especially true for businesses that are in the very early stages where money will be tight!
We’re not going to give you all of our key questions, but before you start to talk to a designer, here are three questions you can use to start to shape a brief that can be used to create your brand:
- What brands are out there that you like? Think about colours you like/dislike, which would you like to try, and which are real no-nos? You can also look at your likes/dislikes in terms of fonts.
- Who is your target audience? Are you looking to speak to a corporate market, or if it’s consumers you’re after, what do you know about them and their buying habits?
- How do you want to be perceived? This is one of the critical questions! Perhaps you want to be seen as high-level professionals or maybe something a little more relaxed. Perhaps you have clear values you want to express through the brand.
Is there is a story to your brand
If you can answer the questions above in reasonable detail, then you have a good head start on creating a brief a designer can work with. The only thing I’d mention at this point is that if there is a story to your brand, whether it’s the story of how you chose your name or just how the business came into being – let your designer know this too. It’s amazing how a creative designer can weave something magical from a story!
One Of The Biggest Branding Mistakes
It can be tempting when you’re looking at branding to get caught up in a fleeting trend. Be wary of not getting too attached to any one idea before speaking with a designer – remember, they’re the expert in this stuff! A designer is looking to create a brand that will last the ages. Yes, of course, over time, the brand will develop, but what we want to avoid is something that looks tired within a year or two.
Equally, that design trend might just not sit right in your market! When looking at design trends, think about what will fit in with how you want to be seen. Most law firms wouldn’t go for something crazy and vibrant, for example, unless they were specifically wanting to incorporate some ‘edginess’ into their brand!
So shouldn’t I jump on a trend design-wise?
A strong brand will allow you to play with the trends as they come and go. Try not to lose sight of who you are. If you are anything like us, there are certain brand fundamentals that you are recognised for by your peers – hold on to those. Once you have an established brand, the answer shifts from a “No” to a “No, but”! Don’t jump on a trend simply to keep up with the “cool stuff”, BUT do take a look at what the trends are and if it fits your business and what you are about it, it sits with your values, and you’re confident your audience will respond… go for it!
Develop your brand AS YOUR BUSINESS GROWS and MATURES
Please remember that the brand you create is a starting block. It isn’t where your brand story ends, and I would encourage you to be mindful of that. To give you an example, let’s look at our own brand. When we think back to the GU brand when the business first started vs the brand you see today, you can see the journey we’ve been on over the years. To begin with, Julia, Green Umbrella’s founder, was on everything, then that changed to George (the giraffe, for those of you who don’t know) featuring everywhere. You don’t see him now as often as you used to, we’ll take him to events, and it’s a great way for us to stand out, but he’s very much in the background these days. As a business, we have moved on from that, and so has our branding, the feel is very different, but we haven’t lost the roots of the brand. The green to orange fade is still there as it has been for years, but we’ve adapted it to keep it current. We’ve also added a panelling detail, which is inspired by the building we’ve grown in over the last 11 of our 12 years in business; this keeps our brand personal to us. We’ve remained a people business, but the team has grown, and so we’ve also tried to make the brand more team-centric.
My final piece of advice
It is essential that you love your brand. So, when you’re working on creating it, don’t make compromises just to stay on-trend. Your business is unique, and therefore your brand will be too; your passion for what you do, your values; they’ll be a big part of your brand, and so will you.