First impressions count.
It’s your opportunity to show, not just tell, people what you’re all about without having to say or do too much in those first few minutes.
It’s no different for new businesses seeking to expose their wares to potential customers. In fact, it’s probably even more crucial, as a strong, authoritative, trustworthy and correctly positioned brand can be the difference between a call back or radio silence.
The most interesting thing for new businesses is this – whether or not you choose to invest in branding, you still have a brand (like it or not). Customers will still form a perception of you, talk about you with their colleagues and friends, and pass judgment on your products or services.
Investing in a fully-formed and well-positioned brand gives you the opportunity to actually control all of those things, and turn them into opportunities. As a new business, that’s as valuable as gold.
For new businesses seeking to create a brand, the power of a suite of assets – a logo, a tone of voice, a group of colours and fonts, a unique position, a certain feel and perception around what you do; not to mention the signage and branded assets your business has – will help communicate what you’re all about in an instant.
It also lets your business find the space between your competitors and build a position that is unique in the market. Trying to do that without a strong brand is nightmare material, leaving you in a sea of sameness in your category.
And with customers who receive a barrage of content on social media, TV, email, the internet and from friends and family, being recognisable and memorable has never been more valuable.
Take this logo from TrussCorp, for example. It tells you and shows you exactly what the business does straight away. It paints a picture in your mind of their products and services through visuals, and becomes an instantly recognisable mark that triggers feelings and thoughts about their company.
But more than that, it makes them look a certain way – an established, trustworthy and reliable company that can deliver what you need them to.
And it does it all in an instant.
When you invest in a new brand, and use that brand repeatedly to deliver useful, high-quality products and services, you create tangible value (‘I got exactly what I wanted from that company’) and intangible value (‘that brand makes me feel something, and because of that I’m confident they could deliver good things again’).
Not to just pull out the big guns, but if you stripped the Apple logo off Apple’s range of products, things would take a downward turn very quickly. They’re the same products we all know and love, but there’s something about that brand – the intangible value – that just makes us go back again and again.
And that value is important for businesses of any size, not just multinational technology behemoths named after the most common fruit.
It’s from that equity in the brand that your business can start to tell its stories. Having a new brand allows you to frame things emotionally for your potential customers. There’s a saying in marketing that brands have to appeal to the head and the heart. But research shows companies that appeal to the heart the majority of the time have far more success when they do push for more sales.
Take Nike, for example. Their brand aligns itself with athletes and weekend warriors, and tells those stories about sweating it out, no matter your skill level or athletic ability. Just Do It, so to say. They use that emotional storytelling so well that it’s rare to even see them advertise a price for their products. Consumers just pick them up off the shelves, check the price, and vote with their wallets.
The same happens with small businesses that establish their brand early – they become far easier purchase decisions for potential customers to make.
When you have a new business, you probably have a small team (or even a few contractors) who need to buy into what you’re trying to achieve.
Creating a brand, positioning it and giving your team a northstar to follow can be an absolute game changer, especially in the early days. It can become the centre of your culture, help guide your staff on making good decisions without you (the dream), and it can attract new, well-aligned talent to the company as you grow.
When your team and business move in the same direction, it delivers business results. And when your customers buy into that vision and values for your brand, you have a united front on all sides of the ledger.
Companies such as Afterpay and Lululemon – which have almost cult-like followings – understand how a great position and brand can bring everyone along for the ride.
If you’re building a new company, we’ll assume you’re keen to be in it for the long haul. It’s often said that brands can be immortal, while categories can die tomorrow. Having a strong brand early on can allow you to build a strong emotional connection with consumers, even if your products, services and audiences need to change as time moves on.
Nokia started as a paper mill in the late-1800s. Allied Manufacturing and Trade Industries Limited (you may know them as beverage giant Coca-Cola Amatil) started as a tobacco company in 1904. Nintendo started out making playing cards in 1889.
But a strong brand builds you a foundation for the years ahead. It lets you leverage the equity you already have to launch new products and services, or entire new businesses. It enables growth in a really structured and effective way, letting you focus on what needs to be delivered for customers.
We get it. It can feel like an expensive operation. If you don’t have the budget to lock in a brand strategy and all of the things that go along with it, the one thing you shouldn’t do is just get a logo designed ad hoc. Taking this approach can make things far more complex and difficult as things move on.
It’s important to know your business, market, audience and point of difference in order to set you up for the best chance of success. Investing in a brand strategy is worth the short term expense to avoid costly mistakes.
If your budget is limited, at least find someone who can take a strategic approach to how your business is branded as they develop your brand assets.
Your business, your staff and your customers will thank you for it.
Chris brings over a decade of industry experience to Red Kite working at design agencies in both the UK and Australia. Over the years he has accumulated a wealth of graphic design, strategic identity design and marketing experience. Chris is a hugely passionate identity designer endeavouring to offer the highest quality branding and logo design Brisbane and Australia wide. Chat to Chris about your branding.