So you’ve decided to take the plunge: you’re starting your own company. Every business leader knows that running a company takes more than just a good idea. Eventually, you’ll need employees, an office, and of course, a logo.
Yep, there comes a time when every business needs to represent themselves. It usually comes at an inopportune time, out of nowhere, when you are least prepared. Quick! We need business cards for the conference next week. Crap! The investor wants us to pitch tomorrow. In these situations the first thought that comes to mind is usually, “we need a logo”. And while this is true, what you really need is a brand.
Brand is perception.
A brand is different than a logo. Your brand is the perception that customers have of your company in their minds. It is made up of hundreds of touchpoints with your audience—from the first time they hear your company name, to the moment they see your logo at a conference, to the experience they have with your customer service rep. This perception is precious and can in most cases be the determining factor in whether or not they choose to do business with you. Can you be trusted? Are you worthy of investment? Do you have your shit together? Can your customers easily understand what your company does?
Your brand is something that can be carefully designed to produce an intended outcome. What do you know about what your customers like and how can we optimize that in your brand? What is the competition doing and how can we stand out? What is wholly unique about your offering and how can we put that out front?
You don’t ever want to start a brand from a place of urgency. It’s a careful, deliberate process that requires research, digging deep, marination, and strategic decision-making. People often liken it to therapy because it can be mentally taxing yet bring to light truths about your company that you didn’t even know existed.
If you rush into choosing a company name, creating a logo, website, or other brand asset without considering the big picture, you’re missing an opportunity to be in control over how people view your company. Or worse yet, you could create a logo indistinguishable from the competition that doesn’t accurately represent your offering—and you’d either be stuck with that forever or have to rebrand down the line when large-scale change is most difficult.
So, while you’re here at the beginning, get ahead of the headache and start considering your brand. Take the time to go through a proper branding process so that as you move forward, these foundational decisions are already made. With a dial brand in place, as you grow you’ll maintain a consistent, deliberate perception in the mind of you customer and will never have to scramble for a quick logo the night before.