I recently wrote this article based on the following question:
You have your business idea and a product or service that is viable. But how do you find a market and create a brand that’s trusted, visible and – above all – attractive to consumers?
Building and selling a product is pretty easy in this day and age. Global markets are only a click away, and access to customers is relatively cheap and easy with Facebook and Google adverts.
However when these customers arrive on your virtual doorstep, what are they going to see?
Will it be your office in disarray? Or will you have a slick well thought-out process that makes your customers feel confident about handing over their money?
I have a few golden rules about branding, which I often talk about, and even though I’m a graphic designer, these come before any branding.
Branding golden rules
- Your brand is only as good as the product/service you sell. So no matter how much money you spend on branding, you will never achieve trust, or become a cult brand if you let your customers down.
- The brand is everything, and everything you do is your brand. It is the way you reply to emails, the way you answer the phone, how your clothes look, how your packaging looks, how you treat your staff, contractors and suppliers – these are all your brand. The logo is only a visual representation of that brand, so even a well-crafted logo could be representing a terrible brand.
- The visual look of your brand has to be relevant to your chosen sector/market. For example, using comic sans in the logo for an accountancy product or service might not send the right signals. Even if you are friendly.
There are visual conventions for industries. To find them, search online for your competitors. If you go outside those conventions be prepared to work harder. The upside of defying conventions is you stand out.
Give thought to your name and how using it on the internet might affect this. For example, if you chose a simple name you can bet that all the good web domains are gone. Or for that matter, you will probably not be able to get your brand name as a username on social media. Getting as short a domain as possible, and having your social media usernames consistent, all help your customers remember who you are.
Also, you might want to think about the logo with social media in mind too. Most social media icons are square or circular, so creating a brand which is long and thin, might impact legibility online.
My last advice is to remove as many roadblocks as possible for your customers.
Getting customers to fill out a giant online form before you’ll quote them, may be a roadblock. Having no website for customers to research your product, is a roadblock. Not answering your phone because you’re in meetings, is a roadblock. You probably can’t change the meetings, but can you forward the calls to an answering service? Can you get a website built, even a small one? Can you save that giant form until you have at least got the client hooked on your product first?
All of these things and are crucial to make a great brand, if you get it right you might even create a cult brand.