Don’t hire us to create your logo. Not us, nor anyone else therefor. Sure, we could create a great logo for you. It would look timeless, be very well designed (I believe we are one of the best, and many agree), it would work across platforms and for years to come, and everybody would be telling you how much they love it. So why shouldn’t you hire us to create this important piece of branding for you?
Chances are you don’t need a logo designed. Not yet.
Chances are you need a brand built, and your logo is just a part of it. By creating a logo in a vacuum, and out of sync, you will likely fail. I don’t want you to fail. Nor be part of failure. I think we share this belief as entrepreneurs.
It’s the cart before the horse idiom: Why put the horse in place if we don’t know the message by the messenger yet?
Below are 4 key elements you have to have in place prior to embarking on your logo design; they are the bare minimum requirements, the wheels of your cart so to speak:
1. You have a positioning statement in place that focuses on the ‘why’ and you stand tall behind it
2. You created 3 target audience personas that stand for who you are actually talking to/with
3. You know your brand personality and its associated keywords and are ready to act upon it
4. You have created a meaningful name that responds successfully to all of the above
If you don’t have these in place, creating a logo would be wasting your money, and (y)our time. It’s a lose-lose situation. How would any designer know what to design without these in place; how would the logo convey what it needed to convey; and finally, how could it connect with your audience? I don’t know, but I see it happen every day on the client’s expense.
Contact us if you need help getting there, as we love to assist and contribute, while speeding up that journey to your brand image.
It’s not quite as harsh as it sounds, but yes, I would like for you to imagine your new venture’s death. Here is why.
Not a proprietary exercise to my consultancy, writing a memorial speech for your brand during the Brand Foundation stage is a cruel, yet crucial step in defining your brand’s lasting values, and has been a staple in early brand development for many brand strategists. Given that those speeches are short, to the point, and always focus on only the best one has to say about the deceased, it is a great opportunity to dig deeper (did not mean for this pun to happen) into the soul and its bigger, social purpose. A brand can only leave a lasting positive impact if it cared to make a difference in people’s lives.
This is why a memorial speech is an extremely fruitful, imaginative, and most of the times rather entertaining exercise to be doing at the very onset of your brand development; and you can rarely say that about a memorial speech.
Over time we uncovered a secondary, but equally important finding during the exercise: The realization that you need to ponder about how your venture will die. And that uncovers the real long term vision for your brand: Will it be bought by Costco, improved upon and distributed to the masses? Will it become part of Marissa Mayer’s tech portfolio, giving you a nice financial push (and we don’t quite know what Yahoo! might do with it)? What is your dream, way past your 5 or 10 year business plan? If it has to end, how would you want it to end? That insight will help shape the overall business and brand strategy.
And here you thought I wanted to harm your newborn venture, while I want to do the exact opposite – watch it grow through planned retirement towards a happy ending.
Ask yourself: Am I about to launch a product/service, or a brand?
How would you know?
You may not have a direct competitor yet, but you soon will. When the innovative, new and unique wears off, competitors will offer your product at a lower cost. How will you keep your customers from choosing their product instead? What will it be that will make your offering stick? Too many startups have to re-invent, re-brand and re-connect once they find traction – at a high cost.
If you have a unique offering combined with ‘the stick’ – the set of true differentiators, the emotional connectors that deliver from the inside out, consistently on message (visually and verbally) and on target – you know you have a brand. Having that foundational special ingredient is like a survival formula for your startup, it will make customers come sooner, faster and stay around even if they could save a few bucks elsewhere later on.
@i_mdoughboy tweeted the following last week about my consultancy’s process chart (see below): Guess where the value is? Here’s a hint – the graphic is eerily similar to a bullseye.
Imagine you are a gifted craftsman that has mastered a unique design that you developed over the course of years just to sell very few and at a high price as you don’t have the audience nor infrastructure. You created something truly unique that only you offer. After years of work, but only a few units sold, you see your design offered at a fraction of the cost at a large retail chain. It happens daily. Examples are too many to give, from apps to shoes to frozen yogurts, and all across B2B services. The only real life insurance you can have, besides a unique product/service to start out with, and its correlating trademarks, is to have that ‘stick’, those emotional brand differentiators that spread across product, service and your Brand Atmosphere. Those are hard to replicate.
If they like your product/service, they might come and purchase it.
If they love your brand, they will come and purchase it, return to it, and stay with it.
(Only read further if this hits home and you are an entrepreneur that is looking for their offering’s ‘stick’)
Avoiding the trap is hard to do for startups, being strapped thin on time and money, hence they often launch blindly, solely focusing on the uniqueness of their offering and not that of their brand. We saw this as a huge issue facing early stage entrepreneurs. Over the course of the last 6 months (based on our 12 years of experience running a branding and design agency, and with the help of writing a book on the subject) we were able to create an affordable ‘overnight’ remedy to avoid that trap. This is a huge reveal for us, which I am thrilled to share with you via this post: Meet our Resonaid™ Brand Foundation workshop, where I spend a full day with you, one-on-one working through a proven, proprietary process to find the path for your new brand to emotionally connect with your customers from the get-go and for the long term. I have one date left available this month and a few in April. Contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about this customized workshop to find the brand ‘stick’ for your startup.
PS: Yes, there is a great book entitled ‘Made To Stick.’ You should pick it up, it discusses why some ideas thrive while others die. Rather appropriate in this context.
“The word ‘brand’ needs a re-branding – due to its brand longevity the brand legacy is not brand-correct anymore,” I heard myself say unexpectedly in an interview earlier this week. It has been on my mind for a while. To no surprise, running a brand consultancy I am using the word a hundred times a day. Furthermore I just published a book titled ‘How to Launch a Brand’. The word gets tiring, especially since it leaves a bad aftertaste and I feel the need to first convince people that it is not a bad term before I start talking about it any further. Brand is not a four letter word.
Despite the negative connotations with the term, branding is more important today than it has ever been before and it is not only consumed, but furthermore created and curated by the masses through their very own personal (public/social media) brand. Brand is alive and kicking and we will not be able to change the term, but one can change the perception away from luxury good logos (Gucci, Chanel) and larger-than-life corporations seen as evil-doers (Exxon, Walmart) to a modern necessity, which, if created and nurtured in an honest and authentic way, turns ‘brand’ into a holistic ‘aura’ of a product/service provider (or person) that we are allowed to have admiration for (From an iPhone to a Celebrity), aspiration towards (From a Nonprofit to a highly ranked University) and sometimes draw inspiration from (From Ted Talk to Oprah).
To me, a brand is a service, product, company, or person with soul, that is attractive and smart.
1. Soul is the beating heart, the reason a company should exist and why your initial attraction matures into love. You put your trust in brands with a soul and most often your money follows soon thereafter. Not much different than with human relationships, soul is the reason why we care for each other, or a particular brand.
2. Attractive is the brand aura that allows for the gut instinct emotional connection you feel when getting in contact with the brand. It is the design and the voice that is carefully created and curated over time in a particularly consistent manner. Attraction is not to be mistaken by shallow beauty.
3. Smart is its usability. How easy is it to engage with the company/product/service/person? In the tech industry it is User Interface and User Experience, with consumer products it is the product and packaging design and with services it is often the design of key offerings combined with its delivery.
Now that we ‘talked’ about the complex strategy that creates the beautiful simplicity that makes a brand, maybe we should give the word another chance?
I have a ritual where I take a bath Wednesday nights (there may be a glass of wine involved, yes) to ponder what I will write about in the New Brand Post the following day. I have a flexible editorial calendar I work with, but it has holes and can be arranged to my liking or to encompass spontaneous thoughts. Last night I realized how insane and equally wonderful it is to write what hundreds of people expect in their mailboxes every Friday morning (sign up if you haven’t) just the day before. As daring as it may sound, strangely I never encounter “writer’s block.”
When a dear friend of mine first convinced me to start using Twitter, I told him that I was not sure I had enough brand-related content to share with the world. 3,654 tweets later (follow our new account) I realize I have a lot to share. If you create a brand that has soul, it will have a voice. If you are passionate about the subject, you will always have something to say. If you create a new brand and feel like you might not have enough content, analyze your Brand Platform and go soul searching again. If you can not find the soul of your new brand, don’t launch it. It’s that simple. Today’s consumer listens, absorbs, and responds. You will be part of an open conversation and as a new brand you need to be the one starting it.
Arrogant Bastard Ale found its soul, reflected it in its name and hence has no problem voicing and monetizing on it. The highly controversial cover design of the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine is a timely example of the power of brand and consumer voice. You can sometimes push it and might at times abuse it (as I see it being the case in RS magazine). As a new brand you need to clearly establish what you will focus your conversation on and how you will speak not only to, but more importantly with your audience. Use your Brand Platform as your brand launch manifesto and brand voice guide. Share a synopsis of it with your extended team, and refer back to it religiously. Pin it to your wall and stare at it every time you (or your content manager) start writing content or engaging with your audience. As much as consumers will buy into your new product or service, they will just as much buy into your brand voice. If Arrogant Bastard suddenly writes a cute statement or Rolling Stone Magazine publishes a boring cover, the brand voice fails the brand’s soul and the brand as a whole will subsequently, over time, lose its power. Make sure your new brand’s voice is consistent. Consistent with your brand’s soul, and hopefully consistently engaging.