For most start-up businesses, the very first thing you are likely to think of is your brand name, as well as a logo and building a website. There are a lot of agencies and services available to help you with these elements. However, I have created a checklist below to help relieve the stress of trying to remember everything when you come to set up your new business.
1. Before you build your brand identity
First, you need to understand the goals of your business, the mission and vision for your business, and how to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You need to fully understand your customers. Therefore, make a list of your brand attributes and categorise these - please see my previous posts for the best way to do this.
2. Decide on your brand name
There are a lot of online tips available, the links below list some useful guide I would use myself:
How to name your business
Choosing a great small business name
Choosing the perfect name for your business
My tips for choosing a business name:
My advice would be to make sure your name represents who you are as a business – for example, what is the nature of your business? Are you a creating a consulting firm? Or starting an automobile company? Or, maybe you’re a fashion designer? Perhaps, you produce food or drink products? What is the character of your business? Think about Virgin = fun and vibrant.
Choose a name that is easy to remember by your audience.
Check that your chosen name is not already registered, i.e. see Companies House.
Ask your audience (potential customers) for feedback, but always return to Step 1 to decide if your chosen name really represents your brand.
Make sure your business name is a popular keyword on search engines like Google. This will help people to easily find you or your website - even if you don’t run an online business, always check this.
If you are starting a company for a Chinese market, always make sure you have an easy to read, understandable, catchy English name, as this is likely to prove very popular in China.
3. Create a logo
Unless you happen to be a graphic designer, more than likely you will either brief a designer to create your logo and related brand identity materials, or you could use free online services. I have added a few helpful websites below:
Free Logo Services
Free Logo Design
The popular website Enterpreneur.com also has some good tips on creating a logo for your business – read this article.
My tips for creating a logo:
Whichever way you choose to create your logo, you need to make sure your design brief reflects your brand attributes - see point 1 above.
Your logo design is a type of visual communication. Make sure the shape, colour and the content of your design reflects your brand personality:
professional (usually associated with navy)
luxurious (usually associated with black)
fun and creative (usually associated with orange)
fresh (usually associated with green)
warm (usually associated with red)
This article gives some good indications on colour meanings and symbolism...
Similar to creating your business name, your logo needs to be simple, recognisable and memorable - and timeless. Jacob Cass shares some very useful tips from his logo design experience.
Always check for feedback from your customers or potential customers – this can be very helpful indeed - then check any feedback against your initial mission, vision and brand attributes. This will enable you to align your brand identity.
4. Create your visual identity and set your tone of voice
Now you can start creating a set of visual identity collateral, such as a business card, letterheads, merchandise, etc. all based on the colour palette of your logo. Think about the tone of voice you wish to use - this is the tone in which you communicate with others, especially your customers. For example, lawyers tend to use a very formal tone of voice whereas businesses in the service industries prefer a more personal tone. In the food and drink industry, you can use those words and tone which create a mental image of the taste and aroma of the food, etc. The key thing here is to speak the same language as your customers.
I highly recommend that you consult a good copywriter, such as Bright Owl Copywriting, to help you set the right tone of voice when you are creating communication materials. Remember, if you want to be able to attract and engage with your customers, you need to speak the same language. Always check whether this matches your brand attributes.
5. Create a website
Everyone has a website nowadays. However, don’t create one just for the sake of it. What is your website for? Is the purpose solely to show information? Do you want to interact with your audience? Do you want to attract potential customers and inspire them to contact you? Or, is your website going to be used to sell products online?
A website is a platform with multiple purposes. In this article, I am not going to discuss the details of how to build a website - however, in terms of brand identity, your website will give people an impression of your brand. Therefore, your message needs to be clear, the visual design needs to be consistent with your visual identity, and the content must reflect your tone of voice.
Often, people tend to add as much information on a website as possible, especially on Chinese websites. This is not always a good thing - visitors usually spend very little time browsing your website (2-3 secs) and they don’t like to use a lot of clicks (no more than 2 clicks to be able to contact you is ideal). So, try to ask yourself these two questions: “Is this what my customers want to see?” and “Can I reduce the number of clicks for my customers?”. Simple, clear and consistent messages (in words and in graphics) is the key to creating a strong identity on your website.
To conclude, there is a great deal to discuss when you are building a brand identity. In this post, I have only touched the surface, exploring a few essential elements. Always remember that building a brand identity does not mean it’s the image perceived in your customers’ minds; this is your brand image. Therefore, when you work on creating your brand identity, you need to understand what your customers’ want and need, and how your business mission and vision can meet those wants and needs. Make sure your brand attributes are correctly determined. Your business name, logo, visual identity and website are all visual communications of your brand attributes.
If you have found this article interesting, please visit our All About Branding pages.
If you want to know more about how to build your brand identity, or you would like to discuss your business branding, please feel free to contact me.