Before you can really get into the importance of branding you need to have a better understanding of what a brand is. First and foremost - it is not a logo. A logo is an important aspect of your brand (that we will get into more later) but it is not the brand in and of itself. So what is a brand then? A brand is an idea and a perception. And just like most ideas, brands can change and shift subtly over time. That is why the Nordstrom you shop at today is barely recognizable as the company it started out as: a dedicated shoe store in Seattle, Washington called Wallin & Nordstrom.
Just as ideas convey feelings, constructs and thoughts to a person your brand will also represent a set of emotions and thoughts to your consumers. It is your job to craft a brand that conveys positive thoughts and feelings like trust, professionalism, and fun - to name a few. The feelings you want your brand to convey will also depend on the product you are offering. If you make sunglasses, for instance, you will want your brand to represent fun, adventure, and popularity. However, if you own a real estate firm you may want your brand to evoke "The Future", prosperity, and trustworthiness. Think of sunglass brand you know of that evokes those ideas. That company is doing a good job communicating their branding to the consumer populace. That is your job - to correctly categorize the product you sell, identify the customers that will want it and what thoughts and feelings that will best encompass your product, values, customers, and goals. Below is an example of a collection of images that we feel accurately evoke the thoughts and feelings associated with our leather goods brand. We use ideas of hand-crafting, travel, the Pacific NW and our roots in leather-crafting in the Middle East to communicate our values and background to our customers.
Most importantly your branding should convey your personality and values to help separate you from the crowd. Think about what your strongest values are, what you love about your product and what kind of person your friends would describe you as. Try to work these themes and ideas into your brand. Most customers are brand loyal not because there isn’t any good competition for the product but because a certain brand is more relatable to them than the rest.
A good logo will encompass the ideals and associated feelings of a brand. This does not happen overnight. First, you need to establish your company and products and stay as consistent as possible with your messaging about who you are. These things will naturally shift and change somewhat but make an effort to be as consistent as you can. As you build a customer base and following, your fans will naturally start to attribute these ideas with your logo. Think about some of the best-known logos. Nike’s swoosh, the Starbucks’ siren, Apple’s… apple. For each of these companies, it took years of branding, messaging and evolving for these logos to evoke the feelings they do today. These logos underwent micro changes over time but for the most part, they maintain the same look. It is vastly important that you develop a logo for the launch of your business and use it everywhere. On your website, products, workspaces, packaging, social media accounts, delivery vans, whatever applies. Your earliest customers need to synonymize your logo with your products from the get-go, so don’t begin until you have one.
Now that you are building your brand and getting your story out there you will probably be tempted from time to time to sell out on your brand. Many small makers and other start-ups struggle with cash flow in the beginning. Very few companies are successful right off the bat, you will probably go through rough months, dry spells where you hardly sell anything. During these tough times, it will be especially difficult to resist offers to sell from competing businesses looking to cut down the competition before it gets started. If you believe in your brand and are looking for more than a quick buck then muscle past these tough times and persist. Another issue you might run into before your brand really takes off could be requests from resellers and customers to remove your logo from your products. This is especially an issue for makers. The motivation for these requests can differ. Sometimes resellers are looking to sell your goods as their own (very harmful for your brand) to customers looking for a brandless look for their personal image (marginally harmful to your brand but very harmful for word of mouth.) Whatever the motivation is behind these requests, you should stick to your brand and never remove your logo from your products. This is your work, blood, sweat, and tears, there is no compelling reason for you to take your name off it. Imagine if someone walked into Nike and said, “I love the shoes but not the swoosh - can you remove it first?” That would never happen because people are buying the brand, they respect the brand. By sticking to your guns when you are small you build the respect and recognition your brand needs to grow and thrive.
One last note before we end here. If you have been in business for a while and the requests to remove your logo and concerns about your branding keep coming up you may want to have a fresh look at your branding. Consider refreshing your logo if this is a common and increasing request. It could signal that your branding/logo is way out of date, clunky, or your customers intrinsically feel that it is out of line with your values and products. If you are getting this request all the time… feel free to ask the customer why and use it as an honest check-in of whether you need a brand refresh or not.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Like what you see here? Sign up for our newsletter for discounts, the latest news and a glimpse behind the scenes at Hand and Hide