It begins with an idea. The idea leads to a vision. The vision leads to a concept. The concept leads to a name. And the name leads to an identity. From an abstract idea to a concrete visual, a brand is born.
You are excited about your new business. However, this new service or product needs an identity that is more than just a great name. You want it to have a look that will leave a lasting impression in the minds of your customers and business associates. Most people think this means they need a logo. However, there is more to a company’s brand than just a logo. Branding is in everything you present to the public. It is your business name, your tag line, the way you answer the phone, what you wear to work, your marketing material including the colour scheme, your packaging, your website… everything! And consistency is crucial.
Below is our 4 step guide to set you off on the right foot in creating a strong brand for your business.
Step 1 – Getting organised
When naming your business:
- Check if there are businesses with similar name. www.asic.gov.au
- Check if the domain name available. www.whois.ausregistry.net.au
- Search online to see what else might be similar if someone was looking for your possible new domain name
- Try to keep the name short and easy to pronounce.
Your business name is the foundation of your brand and company image. It is the label on which you pin your branding. The branding helps to provide a visual identity so that people will recognise and remember your business.
Clear business definition
A graphic designer will need to understand your business. Make sure you are able to clarify the following questions so your designer knows the full purpose of the branding:
- What does your business do? What are the benefits and features of your business? What is your promise to your customers?
- Who is your idea customer – target market? How will they find you?
- Who else does what you do? How are you different?
A brand toolkit is all the elements used to visually represent your brand. These are the elements that you will work together with your designer to lock in and then use consistently to market your business. This will include:
Your primary identifier and the most visible part of your brand system
Colour choice should resonate with your target market. It should represent the emotions that your brand intends to provoke.
Brand typefaces do more than spell word. They vary in style and weight and need to be selected for the following purposes:
- Logo font
- Secondary font – used for headlines, special text such as captions and quotes
- Tertiary font – this is a highly legible font for used for passages of text
- Website font – the key here is readability of website content
Images add immediacy, power and clarity to communications. They add life to your marketing material and website and help to connect your brand to your target market. To make it simpler, consider these five aspects when making your image selection:
- Purpose – what is the image for?
- Tone – how do you say it?
- Relevance – is the image relevant to the audience?
- Timeliness – how new is the image?
- Uniqueness – is your image one of a kind?
Once you have consider all the above elements, contact a graphic designer to help put this all together with a professionally designed logo and branding that reflects the essence of your business philosophy.
Step 2 – Selecting a designer
Here are some things to check for when considering a graphic designer:
- Their portfolio. This is one way to measure a designer’s skills. Does their work communicate successfully? Is it diverse?
- Do they have experience? What type of companies have they worked for and for how long.
- Do they have references or testimonials? Check their online profiles, reviews, and their own website for testimonials or press.
- What’s their education like? Many will have degrees from art and design colleges. Use your judgment. Remember you want someone who can think creatively, not just someone who can use software. Graphic design is about communicating ideas.
- What is their creative process like? If the designer was referred, ask the referrer about the designer’s process. How does he or she work?
- Business skills. How do they invoice? How are they with deadlines? Have the designer walk you through the process so expectations on both sides are set correctly from the start.
- Rate is certainly an issue, especially if you’re a new business looking to keep costs low. This will vary depending on both the designer and how much you have budgeted. Do they provide a flat fee or an hourly rate?
- Time is important. If you’re like most clients of graphic designers, you wanted that logo done last week. Obviously, that’s unreasonable, so be sure to start your search early enough to give your designer time to research, organise, and be creative while still making your deadline. The project timeline is a matter between you and your designer, so make sure to discuss when each phase of the project is due when.
- Personal demeanour. Whether your project is a one-time deal or a long-term one, you want to work with a graphic designer who is personable — good listener, easy to talk to, understands what you’re saying, etc.
So, you’ve got a project, you’ve found your designer and are happy with the rates and timelines. What next? GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! What are you getting, how much will it cost and how long will it take? Also, be prepared to pay 50% of the estimated cost up front.
Step 3 – Providing information to your designer
Getting the most out of your graphic designer and feeling satisfied with the work they create for you is reliant on you being a good communicator. To get started, many designers have a questionnaire for you to fill out before commencing design work. This gives you a chance to carefully consider the information you provide so it really sums up what your business is all about. The better your information, the more prepared your designer will be to best visually represent your business in all the design work you require. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is your business name? Why did you choose it?
- Describe your business. What do you do? It helps to inform your designer about your business goals, the culture and values of your organisation. Give the designer a look into the way your company operates and what helps it thrive.
- Your unique selling point. What sets you apart from your competition. What are your unique features or services you offer.
- Have you got a tag line? Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
- Brand personality. Have you got a preferred colour scheme? If people were to describe your business using 5 adjectives, which ones would you want them to use?
- Where will you source images from? Will you take photos yourself. Draw or create digital illustrations? If you want to use images that you have found online, have you for permission to use those images? Consider purchasing royalty free images from sites such as istockphoto.com.
Collecting examples of inspirational material such as logos, colour schemes, patterns, imagery, marketing material, websites will help your designer get a feel for your taste and direction. These could be gathered as printed material in a folder or sketchbook and/or online digital inspiration. A perfect way to share online inspiration is through something such as a Pinterest board. This inspiration is a great starting point for discussions with your designer.
Step 4 – Working with a designer
Keep your mind open to ideas though the design process.Your designer will have recommendations and suggestions. This is why you employed their service. Use the following list as a guide to ensure your logo and branding effectively reflects your business:
- Does it represent your product or business?
- Does it convey your message?
- Is the design simple enough?
- Does the design have sufficient contrast to stand out?
- Will it work without colour?
- Will it work when it’s small?
- Does it look too much like any other logos?
- Will it be relevant five years or ten years down the road?
Communicate your feedback to your designer as clearly as possible. A simple one sentence brief or response during the design development does not convey enough information. Giving clear direction is essintial but try not to become the designer yourself.
Existing and prospective clients should immediately see your company’s colours, logo or other graphics that identify your business in every piece of your communication. This includes emails, parcels, letters, invoices and quotes. Don’t miss the chance to connect your customers to your brand’s visual identity.
Branding isn’t just about a pretty logo. The best brands have thought behind them. There is research and a clear process to get the brand right so that your business has the right foundation for success. Contact us at Black Mouse Design to discuss how we can work with you to create a look and feel for your business or product to reflect the direction of your business today.