Many start-up businesses make branding mistakes that cost them money and business. Starting on a shoestring in many cases, new business owners try to save money on one of the most important areas of their business, their brand.
I’ve worked with numerous start-up business who never bothered to spend the time or money working out a brand or definition of who they are. I’ve also worked with many established medium sized businesses who could not identify their Pantone colors nor had the appropriate file types needed for sign making and printing projects.
There is a very funny video on YouTube depicting a robot style graphic designer trying to work with a client who needed marketing materials in a hurry. The client didn’t know what he wanted, but he had an idea for a logo that his nephew made in Microsoft Word. Word is definitely not an ideal software for logo or any graphic design.
The video depicts the graphic designer’s frustration with trying to help this client get his project done when the client himself had no clue about his business identity, tagline, or market audience. I laugh hysterically every time I see this video, but, it definitely shows the frustration faced by printers, sign makers, and marketing staff when presented with marketing project with no direction.
Here are some important steps for you to take now whether your business is a start-up or existing business. It’s critical to your business success in virtually every industry to understand your business, it’s marketing message and audience.
Importance of a logo and defined branding
Your logo is the face of your business. It’s on all of the materials your clients or customers see from you even before they know who you are. A shabbily put together logo printed in the wrong resolution or with the wrong file type puts the wrong foot forward to your potential customers. Logos should be well thought out. They should say who you are and why you do what you do. Check out your industry and competitors. Look for good examples of professional logos and decide what you want.
Hire a professional company to design the logo for you. They can provide you with the needed file types (.jpg, .eps, .ai, .pdf) for producing virtually any type of marketing collateral from signs to business cards. They can also provide you with a work up of your Brand Guidelines that list font styles, Pantone colors and branding usage. This will ensure that your message is always consistent. The Brand Guidelines for Oracle show a very detailed example of what I mean. Yours can be less complicated but contain everything you need to maintain a professional image at all times.
Develop consistent brand messaging
For too many new businesses, the marketing message is not explored, explained and worked out before they begin marketing their business or selling their product. It’s very important to spend the time defining your branding and messaging before you go to market. Everything the world sees about your company from newspaper advertising to vehicle lettering should carry a consistent look and feel to create your “brand”. Remember, “A brand is the image, idea and set of emotions people associate with a specific product. Branding is the collection of activities used to construct, support or alter those perceptions or feelings of a brand.”
A professional marketing company or even your local printer or sign company needs to understand your value propositions, tone and messaging prior to designing your collateral, ads and signs. A strong theme between your letterhead, brochures, signs, banners and website will assure that your customers know it’s you the minute they see these materials. Insist that your sign company, printer and advertising outlets know and work within your Brand Guidelines.
Taglines or Mottos
Not every business needs or should have a tagline, but it is a good way to explain your unique selling point versus the competitor. Your tagline should explain why you do what you do, what your uniqueness is, or what the customer should experience with your product. Nikes “Just Do It” campaign is known worldwide and gives you the feeling with Nike products that you can conquer the world. Make your product and business stand out with a great tagline.
Need help with creating the perfect logo or tagline? There are many freelance websites online where you can hire a professional designer by the hour. Try 99designs.com, upwork.com, fiverr.com. Or, try your sign company. Most sign designers are marketing and design professionals and have a unique understanding of creating logos and designs that work in any media.
Just be sure that you get any logo designs in the file types noted above and that they are vector graphics. Many online logo design websites give you a low-resolution file or foreign designers don’t give you a usable file. Be sure you understand what you are getting and make sure to use a reputable designer. Check references.
Know Who Your Customers Are
It’s critical to understand who your customers are. Age, location, likes and dislikes of your target customers help you design your logo and marketing materials to your audience. You wouldn’t want to depict an older couple in your marketing materials if you were trying to attract 20 year olds to an outdoor mountain climbing school for example. Take the time to put together a persona for your customers so you create advertising that is geared toward them.
A professional sign company like Express Sign & Graphics with over 20 years of experience can help you with many aspects of your marketing plan. Our experienced staff knows how to help you design a logo, create the right file types and chose colors that work for your business.
Ann Durso, CEO of Express Sign & Graphics, Inc. has been working in the sign industry since 2000. Her experience includes all facets of sign design, manufacturing and installation. In addition, Ann previously owned Advanced Accounting & Administrative Solutions which provided small business owners with assistance in all areas of their business including; accounting, administration, marketing and organization.[/author_info] [/author]