When we think of brand we first think of logo (even though we know a brand is much more than its logo). The logo is the key point of visual interaction with a brand, hence we are likely to recall it every time we think (or talk) of – or write about – a brand.
During the brand identity (‘logo‘) design process entrepreneurs often forget that there are 2 other elements that help tell the company or product’s story. They interact and bring value to the brand identity as a whole. Do not repeat the same message, but instead ensure to leverage these 3 core components to create a stronger, deeper brand message:
If your name describes your business, do not focus on showing the same message in your logo; instead use your logo to talk about other key elements that describe and differentiate your business. If you are in the cloud storage business and your name includes the two words cloud and storage (A bad company name, yet good example: Cloud Storage Ninjas), have your logo visualize security and stability, if those are key components of your brand’s message. Contrary, if your name is nondescript, either fabricated or an acronym, ensure that the associated brand identity design visualizes what you are in business for (EG: “Cloud Storage“).
Often forgotten during the brand identity design process (and beyond) is…the tagline. There are many factors to blame for the slowly occurring extinction of the tagline (mainly of digital nature, as tag lines are hard to squeeze into apps and templated web sites), but the power of a great tagline is still immense (Just do it, I say!). The tagline should be alive and kicking even though its placement has changed (from the traditional place below the brand identity design). It can now be used as the first header users see on a brand’s web site, the descriptor below the company name in an email signature, in place of yet another step-and-repeat icon pattern on a back of a business card, or in the often underestimated – yet early – brand touch point, the lobby of a business. The tag line is a powerful tool, that, together with the name and brand identity design, tells a stronger, deeper and more actionable initial brand story. It is a leading actor and you can write the script.
Keep the bigger picture in mind when embarking on your identity design project and use your Brand Platform to ensure these 3 core elements touch on more than just one or two of your core values and differentiators (while keeping it visually simple).
Next week I will talk about why our identity design looks the way it does. Are we not following our own rules, are we lazy, or is there a different strategy at play? Hint: It’s the latter.
I spend my days talking about early stage branding with startups and I learn a lot about their behaviors, struggles, fears, and of course their amazing energy and innovative mindset that I thrive off. At times I will use the New Brand Post platform to discuss startup culture and give entrepreneurial advice. It will save you from getting brandexia (a sudden sensation of anxiety caused by the over consumption of the word ‘brand’ by entrepreneurs, often leading to serious cases of brand self-awareness), while still gaining actionable insights and advice for your early stage startup.
As the holidays are approaching (Happy Thanksgiving to my US-based readers), so are company parties, chatter about Q1 goals, and speculations about holiday bonuses. Let me start off by saying that cash-based holiday bonus incentives are a wonderful thing, no doubt about it. I always love giving as well as receiving them thoroughly. Employees appreciate the gesture of appreciation and the fact that they may be able to plan a trip or buy some gifts they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to afford easily. But people investing their time and talent into a new venture understand that cash flow is one of the keys to the survival of the venture, that cash needs to be put to work in small chunks and in strategically calculated places that will directly impact the company’s growth (and yes, brand). Most early stage startup employees are very aware that they made a commitment to give up some traditional monetary perks for being part of the startup tribe, for investing into their future.
As a founder of a new cash-strapped venture, the most cost-effective and best gift for hardworking employees is the gift of empowerment. Create public awareness of staff by talking about their valuable insights and specific contributions they made to the company, publicly via a blog post or newsletter with the title ‘The Season Of Giving Back To Those Who Gave (Your Company Name) Their Best in 2013‘. Mention each and every one of them with specific insights they provided, or actions they took that moved your company forward, full names and photos included. If you have more than 8 employees, spread it out through the month of December. Share it via Social Media and tag them so the article shows up in their networks signifying that this is not out of self-interest, but pure thanksgiving.
Instead of giving a low (= insulting) cash bonus, or a gift that may or may not resonate with your staff, try honest public praise and let me know how it is being perceived. I bet they will thank you, sincerely.