Building A Brand From Scratch: From Logo to Language
When most people think of branding, they usually think of a logo or slogan but building a high quality brand involves so much more than that.
We all know great brands when we see them. Apple, Nike, Starbucks, Amazon, etc… but what is it that makes them truly great? What makes so many people want to do business with these companies rather than their competition? More importantly, can their success be reproduced, and if so, what is the magic recipe? Building a brand from scratch in today’s competitive marketplace is challenging, however, there is a simple formula to make your company stand out. Here is how to build your brand the right way.
To build a brand from scratch, you need a few key items such as a logo, a website, and things like UI components that ultimately end up in your brand guide. What is even more important than these assets, is the way you use them. The simple formula for branding your company has three major steps. Strategy, Message, and Language. Below, you will learn how to do these 3 things correctly, what your brand guide should look like, and how Carbon Web can help accelerate your brand growth quickly.
The Art of Brand Strategy
Aesthetic considerations are far from the beginning of any successful brand building process. Looking cool and sounding great is important but without achieving strategic goals, they do little to serve your company in any meaningful way.
Now that we have the whole cart before the horse thing out of the way, let’s get down to business. Your brand strategy is entirely dependent on two key questions.
1. What is your unique value proposition in the marketplace?
2. How do you convey that objective value to potential customers effectively?
In the case of a company like Apple, their unique value proposition is a technological ecosystem of tools that feeds a growing customer culture and establishes new trends in the marketplace.
How do they convey this value proposition? By streamlining future trends, product development, and advertising campaigns, using a simple and powerful set of proven experience designs, principles, and aesthetic choices. This keeps the above market value price point viable to the customer who appreciates the simplicity of the system.
Accomplishing such a grand vision for your startup or small business is a rather tall order but this guiding principle can be applied to any business. If Joe runs a recruiting company specializing in the software industry, he could serve small SaaS companies or he could serve large enterprise projects for major corporations. This niche is half of Joe’s value proposition, the “unique” part is Joe’s competitive advantage or practical solution to a major demand in the market. Say for example, that Joe can staff projects in half the time of the majority of his competitors. Now we are cooking with gas.
Joe’s recruiting company is the fastest most practical staffing option in his market. How the heck can he convey this through building a brand? Some of the more intuitive options would include, slogans like “press button, staff project.” He might also design his website in a way that makes the customer journey as short and effective as possible. If he can get what he needs from the customer in a few clicks that adds to his brand and increases his conversion rate. Once the unique value proposition is concrete and the strategic elements have been mapped out on paper, it’s time to pair them with a strong brand message.
Crafting Your Brand Message
Your brand message tells a consumer or business whether they are your customer or not. It is the why. Why does your company do what it does? What needs are you solving in the world? Why is your company right or wrong for a certain type of person or company?
Great brands already know who their customer is, why their product is needed, and how to effectively communicate the latter to the former.
A very bold example of this is Nike’s relationship with Colin Kaepernick. Nike customers obviously love the athletic market. Colin was trying to differentiate himself from his traditional role as a player. Nike wants its customers to believe that they are different than a traditional sports apparel company. The “Believe in Something” campaign was Nike’s way of trying to humanize its image and identify with its customers at a deeper level. We have seen failed attempts to emulate this by competitors, which often come across shallow and tacky. The combination of timing, audience, and track record makes it work for Nike.
You may not be playing on a major social-political stage and your message may be more simple but it has to actually mean something to be effective. It’s not quite enough to say “We are here for you and we care about your problem or need.” Even though some major brands incessantly repeat this sort of lazy message to this day, it doesn’t work most of the time. How the customer feels about your company is the level at which their final decision is ultimately made.
Going back to the example of Joe’s recruiting company. He understands the value of speedy service on paper but what is the emotional and psychological benefit of his service? You can do more tomorrow when you have the right people today. This message communicates speed and efficiency but it also has a combination of stress relief, ambition, and optimism embedded in its simple language. Speaking of language…
How Customers Experience Your Brand. (Brand Language)
Often referred to as “Brand Language”, your customers’ experience of your brand is the intricate, yet elegant way that all of your branding materials create a unique and meaningful experience for your clients.
By this point, you know how to strategically position your company in the market place. You have stockpiled tactics for promotions, the customer journey, and your web/social media presence.You also know how to connect with customers on the emotional level where decisions are ultimately made and you are one step away from building a brand from scratch and watching it thrive.
Everything from the words you use, to the items in your office or storefront window transmits your brand message.
To solve the equation you must partner with a skilled team of experienced programmers and creatives who know how to use imagery, language, and code to create the assets needed to execute your strategy and convey your message. This creates complete continuity at every step of your customer’s experience. Some of the key items include your logo, the fonts, and colors on your website and stationary, the layout of your ads, UI components on your website. It also includes the tone of voice in your emails and sales collateral, the way you decorate brick and mortar locations, and ultimately a visual and philosophical expression of your company’s culture. To try to create any of this without a strategy and message is usually a major waste of time.
Everything about Amazon screams “Maximum Value”. Even the little sublime A to Z smiley face motif in the logo. It takes that level of attention to detail for customers to feel that your company is authentic and something they can trust and predict for years to come.
What should your brand guide look like?
Having a “brand identity” or guidelines makes it much easier to transmit your brand across any platform. Here is a link to our brand guide for reference.
As you will notice, we have incorporated different color schemes for the different divisions of our company. Doing this is also a great way to differentiate products and services while keeping the core elements the same. Attention to detail in things like UI components will set your brand apart and make your customers experience fresh and authentic.