You’ve had a big idea and you’ve taken the first step to make it happen – congratulations! So what comes next?
Plenty – from branding to bookkeeping and product development, the list is long. And the learning curve you’re on? It’s pretty steep as a new business owner.
So even though branding is an important part of setting up your new business, we don’t expect you to be an expert in this area. That’s why we have put together a simple five-step guide on how the process works, so you know what to expect (hint: it’s actually lots of fun). By understanding how the process works, you can give your designer better information, which will lead to better results.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about why creating a brand is an important first step in setting up your new business – because you can’t put your all into something you don’t fully understand, right?
What’s in a logo?
Your brand is more than a logo. It’s the language you use to communicate, the values you stand for and the many moving pieces that a customer sees (think signage, your website, brochures, etc.). But your logo is at the heart of it all, and that’s why it’s an important piece of your business puzzle.
As you work with your designer to develop your logo, you will discuss what your business stands for, what makes you different and what’s important to your future customers. This process helps you to gain clarity and focus. Then you can use that focus to make smart marketing decisions from day one.
There are many other reasons why branding is a key priority for new businesses:
- If you are opening a physical space, the design and colours of your logo can be incorporated throughout for brand consistency.
- When planning your website, social media and other marketing materials, you can use your logo as a visual guide of how it should look and feel.
- Your logo is essential if you will require shop signage, business cards, car stickers, uniforms or branded stationery.
So, yes, your logo and brand materials are important – here’s how to turn your idea into a brand that makes you both proud and excited about the business you’re building.
This is the fun part. Jump online and snoop around for businesses that you like the look and feel of (Pinterest is a good place to start). They could be your competitors, your favourite restaurants, online stores – inspiration can come from anywhere. And when you are out and about, take photos of signs that turn your head, pick up business cards and start collecting flyers.
Once you’ve started to understand what you like and don’t like, ask yourself why certain brands appeal to you. Then narrow your focus again by asking yourself what’s relevant for your business. This process will reduce your teetering stack of business cards, photos, screenshots, brochures and flyers down to a tidy pile of inspiration that you can share with your graphic designer.
A good designer will use these materials as a starting point only (which takes the pressure off you to unearth the holy grail of brands). Rather than replicating what another business has already done, we use these materials to develop a brand with all the elements that are important to you, and then we take the design a step further to ensure your logo is unique.
Find a graphic designer
Richard Branson – founder of too many successful brands to list here – says this: “To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” So when you are looking for a graphic designer, it’s important to find someone who will focus on your ideas and what you want for your business.
To start with, ask other business owners for referrals or search online for graphic designers in your area. As you are going through your options, explore the portfolio of each designer and ask yourself this question: Do I like their style? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself this: Does this style align with the direction I want to take my business in?
The next step is to look for testimonials and then speak with the designer to ensure they understand your vision and will fit within your budget.
Once you have found a designer, it’s time to talk budget, strategy and how to get the most bang for your buck.
For example, when starting a cafe, you need well-designed menus and signage. So if your budget is limited, it would be wise to invest here rather than building a website (you can use social media instead while you get up and running). If you are a service-based business, however, you may not need signage, but you will need to budget for extras like business cards, stationery and a website or landing page to get you ready to launch.
Given that we are a small business that started from a home office (and one that has now worked with hundreds of other small businesses *humble brag*), we understand the reality of limited budgets and the need to prioritise. But it’s also important to be strategic so you get a return on your investment.
Brief your graphic designer
Once you have found a designer and agreed on the top-level strategy elements, it’s time to dive really deep. The creative briefing process is where you share your inspiration and discuss what makes your brand distinctive. The brief should be thorough so that your designer has a good grasp of what you need to communicate.
After that, you can put the brakes on and let the designer get to work. As we said before, a good brand is one that represents your business rather than what’s in vogue at the moment. When you receive your logo concept from your graphic designer, ask them to explain the design rationale to you. Branding is about more than just looking good – there must be some commercial thinking behind the work too.
Keep that rationale in mind as you are going through the revision process. Be selective about who you get additional feedback from and think about what your market will respond to.
Launch your new brand
This is the fun part – you get to share your excitement for your new business and new brand with the world. If you need printed materials or signage, ask your graphic designer to either manage this for you or pass along their recommendations. They’ll be able to help you find reliable suppliers that will give you quality results.