Let’s take a look at where you might be today:
You’ve started a business. You made a big decision and took the steps to tell all of your friends and take it serious, but now what? It plays in the back of your mind at night, all of the things that you know you know you need. You search the internet and see the millions of pages dedicated to a successful beginning. So you gather some paper and begin to take notes. You need to market and promote, and you wonder what the differences really are. You know you want to invest in yourself, and your excitement has you pumped to do everything at one time. But where do you begin?
You have a great idea, a great product, and an even bigger vision. You know you are one of millions, but knowing 9 out of 10 startups fail, you vow not to be one of those. So, now the question remains: “How do I attract people to buy into me? And what are my first focuses?”
You hear terms like email lists, and look into google ads and start to feel overwhelmed. Here you are with a great idea, great product, and you just want to spread the word. You want to have your business make you money. So you begin where most people do. You try to promote on instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Yet, it isn’t doing as much as you would like to and for the life of you, you just can’t figure out why.
The ideal definition is hard to peg. When you do what most of us do, and google “brand”, you get the wordy definition of it being a type of product, manufactured by a particular company, under a particular name. Or you get a reference to branding on skin or animals. These definitions can leave your head clouded, and even as you being to watch Youtube video after video, it sometimes is still unclear what a brand really us.
So, let’s dive deeper. Looking at those same definitions and grabbing the essence of the words may shed some light into the actual process of branding, which takes time within itself. Comparing branding to the origins of the word itself. “Brandr” which means “to burn ”. It stemmed from using a heated piece or iron to make your mark into your property. This is so that when others would see your cow wandering down the bridge, they would know the tit belonged to you, and if they were neighborly, they could return your property to you. Usually brands were the initials of the family, or a symbol that was known to that family. Yet, branding also stems from the term “loyalty. And when you are creating a brand, a burning loyalty is exactly what you are going for. Your goal with branding is the idea of "burning” your company’s identity into a *trusted* resource for your type of product, into the mind of your customer.
Close your eyes, and picture the following brands: Netflix, NBC, Google, Verizon, Samsung, Chevrolet, Walmart, Cheerios. No matter the industry, popular brands come with great branding. A good brand not only leaves the image of that company’s logo in your mind, but their products, mission, customer experience, quality, and overall customer experience come into play. As a new business, your goal is to create a brand that will illicit the same level of trust in your product. With a high level of quality, paired with a consistency of caring for your customer experience, your brand can be a memorable landmark for your industry, like the ones above.
Well first, you need a marketable name for your company. Now while you have probably passed this step, let’s look at this briefly.
Your business name first and foremost, should have meaning to you personally. This is the name that represents your company, your vision, and you. But how to pick a name? You want to pick a name that is sort enough to be memorable, and embodies your products and mission in a few words. Keep in mind that your website will have this name as well. Part of branding overall is a clear pattern of repetition. Your logo, .com name, and product memorabilia will have this name imprinted on them. Test the name out. Make sure it is available as a website. Check your name availability through DBA through your local and state name databases. You want a name that is unique to you. You don’t want there to be someone else in the world with the same name as you. You also don’t want there to be a name so long that people can’t remember it. Most of your favorite brands are either letters, a unique phrase, or a two-three word synopsis of a product, or a theme associated with that product. So when choosing a name, you want to keep these things in mind.
However, let’s assume you are as far as having a unique name for your company.
A logo will shape the way your company looks. It can be an iconic picture, a mascot, or even just a set of words in a certain typeset. Let's revisit the companies we’ve already discussed. One of the most popular companies around to date is Netflix. Seeing the word typed out here, you can already picture the website. Black background, Bright red straight typeface, which gives a dynamic but commanding attention not to the logo, but to the many different movie screen titles that appear on their website. Google also is familiar with it’s rainbow letters, and doodles that change on their home page several days of the year. Yet, not all logo’s are letters. NBC’s logo is a set of peacock feathers, and though it has changed and evolved over the years, it is still true that the multi-colored logo could be recognized, even if you were watching television overseas. Yet, moving forward, Verizon’s logo is a red checkmark. Chevrolet’s logo is a cross ( which unknowingly attracts your trust on a psychological level, due to it’s Judeo-Christian element), Cheerios has a the cheery bee, and the O of the cereal itself, which they use interchangeably, depending on who they are marketing to.
When choosing a logo, and looking at iconic logos, most companies that last, have a simplistic, yet memorable logo, that they are able to imprint across many products, in order to create a universal appeal for their products. Yet, logo’s should also be representative of your company’s industry. A car manufacturer may want a logo that Is a symbol of what they believe their quality vehicle embodies. A media platform may want a logo that will be easily remembered for their mobile app users, or a logo that does not distract from the content that is provided. While a toy company may want to have a friendly mascot or colorful logo that emphasizes that it is a family friendly product.
There is a psychological element that plays into branding. There are entire marketing firms who have a team of psychologists analyze trends of customers, and how what they see plays into what they buy. The color of your logo may create a calm in your buyer. Your logo is the repetitive symbol that you will use on everything. Email signatures, letterhead, products, and of course your website. So whether you design your own logo, or hire a designer, make sure that you are sure of the message that you want to convey, and that your designer understands this as well. From there, simply trust your designer to help bring a simplistic but bold statement to life to help embody the sense of your company.
Once the logo is done, and your products are ready, you need a place to showcase your work to the world. You may be asking yourself if that is really necessary. The answer, for so many different reasons is yes. But, let’s take a look at the naysayers:
You’re not the only person who is skeptical. In fact many people believe they don’t need a website, and in fact run businesses without them. According to a survey in 2018 by Glassdoor, 40% of businesses still don’t have as much as a website.
Why is this the case? Well, diving into the data, most of these businesses are a little more old school. They have clients at a brick-and-mortar location. They are those small cornerstone shops in a local community. They get repetitive clients from word of mouth. They have been around for years. So even if they are not making money to their fullest potential, they are well known, and making money. That is to say, they can hang on to the ideal of not having a website. Yet, in a world where everything is digital, and going green, the new generations of customers won’t know who they are in a few years, and their businesses are already experiencing a slow but steady decline.
So for a new business, who does not have a online presence, no physical store, and trying to create an outlet, where do you begin? You start with web designer. Most people do not possess the skill to build out a website on their own. Not only is it a challenge to build a website, but understanding what it takes to not just paste a logo together on a website, but to implement the things that it will take to elevate your brand are something that your designer or marketing firm must possess. While you may have the do it yourself attitude, without a little knowledge or know how, even a Wix or Squarespace website can leave you feeling underwhelmed after a while of checking out your competition. There is still the task of either having a theme in order to look professional, or the website limiting your abilities to create, or manage your clients.
There is a psychological element to design structure, picture placement, along with knowing the things that your business may need, whether it is an e-commerce store setup, or a simple static website to just get the message across. Understanding these things, along with understanding that websites, just like businesses, can evolve and have stages of development, so that a business may move to a more sophisticated e-commerce, after having a static page for a while to test run a few products. Your design developer must be a part of your team, integrating not only a design, but your needs, into the place where your customers will hang out any time they need important details about your company.
In addition to this, your website needs to be an extension of your logo and your brand, as well as prepare for the needs of your company. A web developer may be able to solve those dilemmas for you. Developers often times are able to solve problems that simple systems are not, and can give you a professional and custom look, so that your website does not mirror the blueprint of a million others, and get lost based on that alone. Your website should not only be professional, but scaleable. You need to be able to have it professional on both a computer and your mobile phone, as most people view websites from their phones. It needs to convey your dream in a simple easy to use way for your customer, as you don't want them to get aggravated by it loading slowly and never come back. These are the essentials that your developer has these things in perspective when launching a new way for the world to access your company at the click of a button.
Your website will be a place where you connect. Websites filter serious customers out from the average window shoppers. They not only are a place for information about your company, but it is where YOU control how your company is perceived by the world. It is not filled with distracting ads, which can take the focus away from your business ideas or product, and to a dress on sale, or a cute kitten. With your website, you control any and all ads that may appear. The focus is on your product or vision.
Yet not only will your website be a powerhouse by itself. It will be the hub of all of your data collection. You will be able to find out who your customers are. You have a centralized location to send your customers at 3 in the morning, when you are unavailable by phone. Rather than take incoming messages on social media, you can command a look of professionalism by sending customers through your website, and show that you truly mean business. Each and every visitor can then begin building that trust with you, with the content that you provide, and provide you their name, email address, phone number and other information that allows them to be contacted repeatedly for more of your company's offerings (sales, discounts, new products, exclusive access, etc).
Then with that centralized website, you can begin integrating your social media into the picture. You can remain active on social media but filter those interested customers to your website for more information, instead of messaging clients back. You can quickly receive messages from interested customers, and get sales on products from interested buyers. You can then begin a mailing list to contact all of your loyal customers, and interact with them directly, in order to make a bigger impact. And your logo and website will be the home of it all, as you begin to branch out connecting everyone back to your company's home.
Though there is so much more to building a successful brand, it does start at the very beginning. You have a business that needs a marketable name. From there you . need a logo that becomes the identity for your company. Finally, you need a centralized home, free from distractions, where your information about your product and vision can live. From there, you can integrate social media platforms, mailing lists, and so much more into your company, rather than using other companies to promote you, only to get lost in the shuffle.
Stay tuned as we will dive deeper into the world of branding very soon!